The new General Education program was approved in May 2014. Click here to view the General Education proposal approved by the University Senate and SACC.
For more information, view Q&A: the New Gen Ed Program.
The Guidelines for Requesting New Course Approval and Course Changes now align with the new General Education program. This version has been updated to include information on Signature Assignments and programmatic assessment.
The Course Proposal "Cover Page" document, Request for Permanent Course Approval or Course Change, was also approved by the Senate and SACC. This is a "fillable" PDF that can be saved. It serves as a "routing slip" as course proposals make their way through the approval process that begins with Department Curriculum Committees. This form must be submitted to the Department Curriculum Committee with the completed Course Proposal. In order to save the "Cover Page" file with your information, you may need to follow these steps:
The General Studies program had a two-part structure of
foundational courses and area courses; it required students to take 66 credits
including a distribution of courses in the six “areas” (A-F). The new General
Education program has a three-tier structure; it requires students to take 44-45
credits including a distribution of courses in four “modes of inquiry.” The
vast majority of courses in the old program were offered at the 100-level and
many were traditional introductions-to-the-major. The new program includes
100-level, 200-level, and 300-level (capstone) courses and students will
progress through the program by progressing through the tiers. General Education
courses will be grounded in a disciplinary or interdisciplinary approach; but
unlike traditional introduction-to-the-major classes, they will focus on themes
or topics of general interest, offering students the opportunity to learn about
subjects with broad implications and applications in the context of an
introduction to ways (“modes”) of investigating the world and thinking about
knowledge. In the old program, each department was limited to offering five
General Studies area courses and each of these was typically offered in a
single area; in the new program, there is no limit on the number of courses a
department may offer, and the courses may be offered the modes of inquiry for
which they meet the criteria. The new program also includes thematically-based course
pairs and clusters to help students appreciate the interconnectedness of the
various academic approaches; and it puts a premium on instruction in, and
assessment of, skills associated with the six University-wide student learning
About 60 Tier 1 course sections and 6 Tier 2 course sections are needed for fall 2015, the first semester of the program. The General Education committee chairs and FYEP coodinator have been in touch with Department Chairs in an effort to coordinate scheduling and meet student need.
Whatever the mode of inquiry—and no matter the topic,
theme, or disciplinary approach—General Education courses will include
instruction in, and assessment of, the skills associated with at least two of the University-wide
student learning goals:
The University-wide student learning goals are the most
important constant of Gen Ed at NJCU. These learning goals are in effect from
the first Tier 1 Seminar to the Capstone, and in every class in between: they
are the goals that students will strive to reach; and they are the skills that Gen
Ed courses are designed to teach.
By taking a range of courses in a variety of topics that
genuinely interest them, students will receive a rich introduction to a diverse
range of disciplinary approaches to knowledge. One way of organizing these
approaches is to group them into collections of related disciplines—the
disciplinary “modes of inquiry.” In order to ensure that they receive broad
exposure to a variety of disciplinary approaches to knowledge, all NJCU students
are required to take at least two courses in each of the four modes of inquiry, whether in Tier 1 or Tier 2, by the time they complete Tier 2.
The four modes of inquiry are:
modes may appear to correspond loosely to the “Areas” of the old General
Studies program, the modes are not tied to the departments of faculty teaching the
courses. Instead, courses will be taught in, and count toward the distribution
requirements for, the modes of inquiry most appropriate to their subject matter
and academic approach. Genuinely interdisciplinary courses may be designated as
“intermodal” if their subject matter and academic approach legitimately meet
the criteria for two modes of inquiry.
An intermodal course meets the criteria for two modes of
inquiry. Seminars that meet strict criteria for intermodal course designation
will satisfy the distribution requirements for two modes of inquiry. All students must have taken at least two courses in each of the four modes of inquiry, whether in Tier 1 or Tier 2, by the time they complete Tier 2.
No. There is no requirement to teach an interdisciplinary
course. However, there are opportunities to do so for those faculty so
No. Inclusion of a course in one of the modes of inquiry
is not tied to the department or program (or faculty member) offering the
course; rather, it is based on whether the course meets the criteria for
inclusion in the mode of inquiry.
Yes. Changing the mode(s) of inquiry of a course that has
been proposed and approved involves more than a few minor adjustments. Courses approved
for inclusion in Gen Ed will need to be taught in the mode or modes for which
they were approved.
The Gen Ed program at NJCU has a tiered structure. That’s
another way of saying that it is divided into three levels. Students begin
their General Education studies in Tier 1, which includes the Tier 1 Seminars
(either one or four, depending on a student’s initial composition course
placement), as well as one English course and one Math course. After Tier 1,
students move into Tier 2, which includes a second English course and either
three or six Tier 2 courses (also depending on initial composition course
placement). After Tier 2, students move into Tier 3, which consists of a single
Capstone course—the culmination of General Education at NJCU.
But what is the difference between the work done in Tier
1 and Tier 2, or Tier 2 and Tier 3?
Students develop their skills as they progress through
the Tiers, from the introductory (100-level) Math and English courses and Tier
1 Seminars, in which college-level skills associated with at least two of the
University-wide student learning goals are introduced
to students, to the intermediate (200-level) English and Tier 2 Seminars, in
which those skills are reinforced,
and to the more advanced (300-level) Tier 3 Capstone course, in which students
demonstrate that they have mastered
In other words, student will progress through the Tiers
by meeting the University-wide student learning goals skills levels defined for
each Tier. For example, students in Tier 1 will be expected to meet the
learning goal benchmarks defined for Tier 1. Similarly, students in Tier 2 will
be expected to meet the milestone-level outcomes defined for Tier 2. Finally,
students in Tier 3 will be expected to meet the capstone-level outcomes defined
for Tier 3.
Students progress through the Tier structure in
General Education: as students make their way through each of the Tiers, they
simultaneously strengthen their skills and deepen their knowledge through
experiences in a series of courses that address a range of topics through a
variety of approaches.
Two-course pairs and three-course clusters are offered
during the same semester and taken concurrently by a learning community of
students. The thematic or topical focus of Gen Ed courses makes them a natural
fit for inclusion in pairs or clusters of interrelated courses that approach
their shared subject matter—a relatively general topic or theme for each pair
or cluster—from a variety of disciplinary points of view, or even through a
variety of modes of inquiry. (Remember that a “mode” is a collection of related
“disciplinary approaches,” so a cluster of courses that includes “a variety of
modes” is a group of courses that take a variety of disciplinary approaches,
each of which belongs to a different mode.) The inclusion of course pairs and
clusters that focus on a common topic highlights and reinforces, in the
juxtaposition of different approaches to a single shared topic or theme, the
interrelatedness of the various approaches to knowledge—the modes of inquiry—as
well as the important differences among them. The new Gen Ed
program encourages students to understand their various courses as related parts
of a connected and coherent educational experience.
The summer funding application asked faculty to propose
pairs and clusters, but actual course proposals do not require
detailed information about pairs and clusters. The reason for this is that the
Senate Curriculum and Instruction Committee can approve only individual courses.
As a result, whether or not courses are offered as pairs or clusters will be largely a matter
of planning and scheduling. Well-planned course pairs and clusters will make an
important contribution to the Gen Ed curriculum and we anticipate their being
consistently offered in the formats in which they were conceived and developed.
Of course, there is no guarantee that a course will always be offered in a pair
or cluster; likewise, stand-alone courses may be offered in pairs
or clusters not originally planned at the initial stages of course development.
The size and complexity of the program will require careful planning and
The purpose of course pairs and clusters is to provide
students with an integrated learning experience that includes two or three
courses linked by a shared theme or topic. As in the current FYEP learning
communities program, every effort will be made to protect the integrity of the
course pairs and clusters so that students who take one of the linked courses
will concurrently take the other linked courses. In some cases, exceptions may
The new Gen Ed program does not include asynchronous (multi-semester)
course pairs or clusters. All course pairs and clusters will be offered
concurrently on the learning community model. There are advantages to offering a
sequence of courses related by theme; however, such a sequence would not be considered
a pair or cluster. One challenge of running sequences across Tier 1 and Tier 2
involves scheduling and enrollment. The power of the course pair or cluster is
in the learning community it makes possible. Given the intricacies of
scheduling, there is at present no clear way to ensure that all (or even most)
students enrolled in the first course of such a sequence would complete the sequence
in a subsequent semester.
Some Gen Ed courses will have prerequisites; for example,
in order to take English Composition II, student must first pass English
Composition I. There may be other cases in which prerequisites are appropriate
for courses in the Gen Ed program. However, in most cases the Gen Ed courses
will probably not have prerequisites. Instead, students will be required, to
the extent possible, to complete the three Tiers in the intended sequence (Tier 1, then Tier 2, then Tier 3).
The short answer is no. The Senate-approved General Education program proposal includes
the following language:
The Gen Ed Program proposal recommends that courses in the
new program, like the FYE courses in the General Studies program, continue to be
housed, scheduled and staffed by their departments (rather than exist
independently in the dean’s office like the INTD courses in the current
program). Furthermore, the proposal recommends that the catalogue
designations for courses in the program remain department-specific (i.e.
History, Biology, Art, Math, etc.). Courses that involve faculty from multiple departments should be
cross-listed in the relevant departments and carry multiple catalogue
Yes. Courses that involve faculty from multiple
departments will be cross-listed in the relevant departments and carry multiple
Unless there is an existing University policy to the contrary, Gen Ed
courses can be offered the same way other courses are offered.
Approved Gen Ed courses could be designated as required
major courses if a department decided to make such a designation. This was a
feature of the old General Studies program and it continues in the new
program. However, a traditional intro-to-the-major course is not an appropriate
Gen Ed course. Gen Ed courses will be grounded in
a disciplinary or interdisciplinary approach; but unlike traditional
introduction-to-the-major classes, they will focus on themes or topics of
general interest, offering students the opportunity to learn about subjects
with broad implications and applications in the context of an introduction to
ways (“modes”) of inquiry--that is, the ways of investigating the world and thinking about knowledge in the disciplines. An
important criterion for whether a course is appropriate for the Gen Ed curriculum is therefore whether or not its topic or theme could be approached from more than one
discipline or mode of inquiry. If not, then its subject matter is probably too
discipline-specific for a Gen Ed course. For example, the 200-level
“Introduction to Literary Study,” an introductory course required for all
English majors, would not be appropriate for Gen Ed. Its topic is
literally defined by a particular disciplinary approach—it is the introduction to a discipline. Since it fits
exclusively into a single discipline and, as a result, a single mode of
inquiry—Language, Literary, and Cultural Studies—it is not “general”
enough for General Education. However, a course that focuses on a topic like
war or the environment would better meet the criteria described
above. Such a course could be
approached from the perspective of any of the four modes of inquiry and would
thus be appropriate for inclusion in Gen Ed, whether or it were
taught as a stand-alone course or as part of a two-course pair or three-course
NJCU has recently
established two University-wide committees to design and implement a Communications
(Speaking, Writing, and Reading) Across the Curriculum initiative and a
Quantitative Literacy Across the Curriculum initiative. These will be aligned
with the Gen Ed program, in collaboration with the academic departments, to
ensure quality speaking, writing, reading, and quantitative literacy
instruction and skills acquisition across the curriculum. The Com Quant
committees will consult with the departments and the Gen Ed Executive,
Curriculum, and Assessment committees to plan faculty development initiatives
tailored to specific departmental and programmatic needs. The
Gen Ed Curriculum Committee, the Senate Curriculum and Instruction Committee,
and the University Senate must approve curricular changes associated with these
initiatives. Com Quant will
intersect with Gen Ed in that both programs emphasize the University-wide
student learning goals. Com Quant specifically focuses on three of these: effective
writing skills, effective oral communication skills, and effective quantitative
literacy skills. However, the scope of Com Quant is not limited to Gen Ed;
rather, it will work to ensure that these learning goals are effectively addressed
throughout the curriculum in the major and minor programs of all three colleges.
The General Education Assessment Plan was approved by the University Senate and SACC. It can be found on page 8 of the new General Education proposal. A pilot of the proposed programmatic assessment instruments is being run during AY 2014-15 to help ensure an effective implementation in Fall 2015.
The FYEP will, for all intents and purposes, be integrated and expanded into the new Gen
Ed program, which was in part designed to build on its success (and that of its
predecessor, Project 100) as a learning communities program. In a basically unrelated matter, existing FYE courses might make good candidates for revision as Tier 1 Seminars in the new program.
Starting in September 2015, entering students will begin
taking courses in the new Gen Ed program. However, a cohort of students who began
in the old General Studies program will have yet to complete it. At the same time, the number of new General Education courses offered in the first phase of the new program may not accommodate all NJCU students. Therefore, while we expect that fewer existing General Studies (Area A-F) courses will be offered starting in Fall 2015, a number of existing General Studies courses will continue to be offered alongside the new Gen Ed courses until the new program has been ramped up sufficiently to phase out the old courses. All continuing students and new transfer students in Fall 2015 will take General Studies courses in Areas A-F and complete a modified (reduced-credit) version of the existing General Studies program which is detailed on the General Studies Academic Planning Sheet 3-GS. Only new non-transfer students entering NJCU in Fall 2015 will begin the new General Education program. These students will use the new General Education Academic Planning Sheet.
Yes. Effective advisement will be
important in the new program. Some of the requirements may be difficult to administer online, at least at first. One issue is already familiar to advisors: students
who enroll in course pairs or clusters need to be enrolled concurrently in
multiple courses. This obviously affects the enrollment procedure and can be
simplified by assigning each pair or cluster a special enrollment code that enrolls
students in a pair or cluster in a single action. This has been done in the
Another issue involves the different requirements for
students who place into developmental composition and those who place into
college-level composition upon arrival at NJCU. The number of courses students must
take in Tier 1 and Tier 2 depends on whether they place into RWAD or ECI. Students
who place directly into ECI are required to take one Tier 1 Seminar (3 credits)
plus ECI and Math; students who place into developmental composition (RWAD) are
required to take four Tier 1 Seminars (12 credits) plus ECI and Math. Also,
students who place directly into ECI take ECII plus nine courses (27 credits)
in Tier 2; and students who place into RWAD take ECII plus six courses (18
credits) in Tier 2. All students take a single Tier 3 Capstone course; and all
students take a total of 44-45 credits in the General Education Program (Tiers
A third consideration involves the sequencing of courses
in the Tiers. The tiered structure is based on the level of difficulty and
sophistication of the courses offered in teach Tier, including the level of competency in the learning goals expected by the end of the course, so it will be vital to
ensure that students start in the introductory Tier 1 courses, then progress through the more advanced Tier 2 courses, and finally take the most
advanced Tier 3 Capstone course at the end of Gen Ed.
That was the case in an earlier version of the new Gen Ed program. However, the University Senate approved a motion that authorized revisions to the program so that all students must take
at least two seminars in each mode of inquiry, whether in Tier 1 or Tier 2, before completing Tier 2.
Regardless of comp course placement, all students now have the same
distribution requirement; all students must take the same number of
courses in each mode of inquiry.
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