Learning goals
evolve; one added
Replacing the “Six Learning Goals of the Baccalaureate,” starting in 2012, are the updated and expanded “WSU Learning Goals and Outcomes.” They include:
•Critical and Creative Thinking
•Quantitative Reasoning
•Scientific Literacy
•Information Literacy
•Depth, Breadth, and Integration of Learning
Detailed information on the WSU Learning Goals and Outcomes, with examples, is online at
PULLMAN, Wash. – This week, the WSU Board of Regents were informed about a proposal that effectively reshapes undergraduate education at WSU. The Faculty Senate approved the new University Common Requirements with a voice vote on April 14.
The requirements will replace the General Education Requirements (GERs).
“The process to create the University Common Requirements generally went well,” said Tom Tripp, chair of the University Common Requirements Committee (formerly known as the General Education Committee (GEC)) and management professor at WSU Vancouver. “I’m very pleased with the feedback from the faculty, students and staff who helped us write a proposal they could commit to and get it passed in just about one academic year.
“I like the final version of the proposal that passed the senate and goes on to the WSU Regents,” he said. “It makes a number of positive changes to general education. I believe it will lead to an enhanced curriculum, more knowledgeable and skilled undergraduates, and to the assessments that we need to do.”

Faculty Senate Chair Max Kirk, associate professor of construction management, agreed, listing three reasons he approves of the changes.

“First, re-evaluating the general university requirements was long overdue and the new set brings us up to new standards.
“Second, by reducing the total required credits for general education, it helps students to contain their cost of education if they can stick close to 120 credits to graduate. It also helps the university during the current budget situation.
“Third, I just think the new requirements were very well done, very comprehensive. Both the General Education Committee and the members of the senate have my praise for their efforts.
“Ultimately, I think the students will like them,” Kirk said, “as they address issues of looking at education broadly.”
Recent revision of regional accreditation standards requires all curricula and courses (including those for general education) to be based around outcomes; programs and courses must demonstrate that students meet intended learning goals.
Modernizing the requirements
The University Common Requirements are “more efficient” than the GERS, said Tripp. The GERS have been in effect for about three decades and have, thus, impacted dozens of thousands of students.
The new requirements focus on the contemporary concept of using learning goals to drive the creation of curricula. They also are intended to fit the needs of all students (including transfer students), in all majors and on all campuses.
They also provide a coherent first-year experience and culminate in a meaningful integrative and applied capstone experience.
The GERS were organized into three tiers. Courses were given letter designations (A, W, Q, N, C, P, B, S, H, I, G, K, D and T) to identify the type of requirement they fulfilled. GERS made up 40-43 credits (all outside the major) of the 120 required to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.
The University Common Requirements call for 11 courses or 34 credits (with no more than three courses taken within one’s major) to count toward graduation requirements. Instead of tiers, there are course categories:
•“First-Year Experience” (3 credits) consisting of “Roots of Contemporary Issues”
•“Foundational Competencies” (9 credits) made up of written communication, quantitative reasoning and communication courses
•“Ways of Knowing” (16 credits) with courses on inquiry in the natural sciences (7 credits from either set “A” containing physical and biological science courses plus one lab, or set “B” made up of Science 101 and Science 102 courses); inquiry in the social sciences; inquiry in the humanities; and inquiry in the creative and professional arts
•“Integrative and Applied Learning” (6 credits) including a course on diversity and a capstone
Next on the agenda
The University Common Requirements Committee will set up working groups within its membership to determine and work on implementing the new curriculum. Though it has a new name, for now the committee’s membership is the same as the GEC’s, with representation from every college and campus, plus students.
“No course currently in place is automatically approved for the new requirements,” Tripp said. “To be offered as courses fulfilling University Common Requirement criteria as of fall 2012, courses old and new must be approved by the committee.”
To prepare, the committee will set up an efficient process and develop evaluation criteria, specifying what the members will be looking for in a proposal and in the submission process to lead to approval.
Follow the progress as WSU revises general education and works to implement the University Common Requirements at http://UniversityCollege.wsu.edu.