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THE CORE CURRICULUM

 

Highlights from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

 

CORE CURRICULUM: ASSUMPTIONS AND DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS

April 1998

Senate Bill (SB)148, enacted in 1997 by the 75th Texas Legislature, requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to adopt rules that include "a statement of the content, component areas, and objectives of the core curriculum," which each institution is to fulfill by its own selection of specific courses. Those rules are included in

Chapter 5, Subchapter S, Sections 5.390 through 5.404. The Coordinating Board has adopted this document in order to provide additional guidance to institutions as they refine their core curricula to comply with SB 148 and the Coordinating Board rules that implement the statute. The Assumptions, Defining Characteristics of Intellectual Competencies, Perspectives, and Exemplary Educational Objectives (listed by component area) contained in this document are derived from the Report of the Advisory Committee on Core Curriculum (1997-98). That Advisory Committee based its work on the 1989 Report of the Subcommittee on Core Curriculum, which the Board received and endorsed in accordance with House Bill 2187 of the 70th Legislature. That legislation required all institutions to adopt, evaluate, and report on an undergraduate core curriculum. Each institution should consider these guiding principles carefully as it proceeds with the revision of its core curriculum.

Defining Characteristics of Basic Intellectual Competencies in the Core Curriculum

Blinn College requires a core curriculum for the Associate in Arts and the Associate in Science degrees.  For the core curriculum in an Associate of Applied Science degree, please consult the appropriate pages within this bulletin that detail the individual degree requirements.
The core curriculum includes a series of basic intellectual competencies—reading, writing, speaking, listening, critical thinking, and computer literacy—essential to the learning process in any discipline, core components and related educational objectives, and perspectives. 
*  Core Curriculum information derived from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Intellectual Competencies
      Although students come to college with some experience in exercising these competencies, they often need further instruction and practice to meet college standards and, later, to succeed in both their major field of academic study and their chosen career or profession.

Reading:  Reading at the college level means the ability to analyze and interpret a variety of printed materials – books, articles, and documents. A core curriculum should offer students the opportunity to master both general methods of analyzing printed materials and specific methods for analyzing the subject matter of individual disciplines.

Writing:  Competency in writing is the ability to produce clear, correct, and coherent prose adapted to purpose, occasion, and audience. Although correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation are essential in any composition, they do not automatically ensure that the composition itself makes sense or that the writer has much of anything to say. Students need to be familiar with the writing process including how to discover a topic and how to develop and organize it, and how to phrase it effectively for their audience. These abilities can be acquired only through practice and reflection.

Speaking:  Competence in speaking is the ability to communicate orally in clear, coherent, and persuasive language appropriate to purpose, occasion, and audience. Developing this competency includes acquiring poise and developing control of the language through experience in making presentations to small groups, to large groups, and through the media.

Listening:  Listening at the college level means the ability to analyze and interpret various forms of spoken communication.

Critical Thinking:  Critical thinking embraces methods for applying both qualitative and quantitative skills analytically and creatively to subject matter in order to evaluate arguments and to construct alternative strategies. Problem solving is one of the applications of critical thinking, used to address an identified task.

Computer Literacy:  Computer literacy at the college level means the ability to use computer-based technology in communicating, solving problems, and acquiring information. Core-educated students should have an understanding of the limits, problems, and possibilities associated with the use of technology, and should have the tools necessary to evaluate and learn new technologies as they become available.

Core Components and Related Educational Objectives

I.    Communication (English composition)
The objective of a communication component of a core curriculum is to enable the student to communicate effectively in clear and correct prose in a style appropriate to the subject, occasion, and audience.

Exemplary Educational Objectives:
1.   To understand and demonstrate writing and speaking processes through invention, organization, drafting, revision, editing, and presentation.
2.   To understand the importance of specifying audience and purpose and to select appropriate communication choices.
3.   To understand and appropriately apply modes of expression, i.e., descriptive, expositive, narrative, scientific, and self-expressive, in written, visual, and oral communication.
4.   To participate effectively in groups with emphasis on listening, critical and reflective thinking, and responding.
5.   To understand and apply basic principles of critical thinking, problem solving, and technical proficiency in the development of exposition and argument.
6.   To develop the ability to research and write a documented paper and/or to give an oral presentation.

II.   Mathematics
The objective of the mathematics component of the core curriculum is to develop a quantitatively literate college graduate. Every college graduate should be able to apply basic mathematical tools in the solution of real-world problems.

Exemplary Educational Objectives:

1.   To apply arithmetic, algebraic, geometric, higher-order thinking, and statistical methods to modeling and solving real-world situations.
2.   To represent and evaluate basic mathematical information verbally, numerically, graphically, and symbolically.
3.   To expand mathematical reasoning skills and formal logic to develop convincing mathematical arguments.
4.  To use appropriate technology to enhance mathematical thinking and understanding and to solve mathematical problems and judge the reasonableness of the results.
5.   To interpret mathematical models such as formulas, graphs, tables and schematics, and draw inferences from them.
6.   To recognize the limitations of mathematical and statistical models.
7.   To develop the view that mathematics is an evolving discipline, interrelated with human culture, and understand its connections to other disciplines.

III. Natural Sciences
The objective of the study of a natural sciences component of a core curriculum is to enable the student to understand, construct, and evaluate relationships in the natural sciences, and to enable the student to understand the bases for building and testing theories.

Exemplary Educational Objectives:
1.   To understand and apply method and appropriate technology to the study of natural sciences.
2.   To recognize scientific and quantitative methods and the differences between these approaches and other methods of inquiry and to communicate findings, analyses, and interpretation both orally and in writing.
3.   To identify and recognize the differences among competing scientific theories.
4.   To demonstrate knowledge of the major issues and problems facing modern science, including issues that touch upon ethics, values, and public policies.
5.   To demonstrate knowledge of the interdependence of science and technology and their influence on, and contribution to, modern culture.

IV. Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts
The objective of the humanities and visual and performing arts in a core curriculum is to expand students’ knowledge of the human condition and human cultures, especially in relation to behaviors, ideas, and values expressed in works of human imagination and thought. Through study in disciplines such as literature, philosophy, and the visual and performing arts, students will engage in critical analysis, form aesthetic judgments, and develop an appreciation of the arts and humanities as fundamental to the health and survival of any society. Students should have experiences in both the arts and humanities.

Exemplary Educational Objectives:
1.   To demonstrate awareness of the scope and variety of works in the arts and humanities.
2.   To understand those works as expressions of individual and human values within an historical and social context.
3.   To respond critically to works in the arts and humanities.
4.   To engage in the creative process or interpretive performance and comprehend the physical and intellectual demands required of the author or visual or performing artist.
5.   To articulate an informed personal reaction to works in the arts and humanities.
6.   To develop an appreciation for the aesthetic principles that guide or govern the humanities and arts.
7.   To demonstrate knowledge of the influence of literature, philosophy, and/or the arts on intercultural experiences.

V.   Social and Behavioral Sciences
The objective of a social and behavioral science component of a core curriculum is to increase students’ knowledge of how social and behavioral scientists discover, describe, and explain the behaviors and interactions among individuals, groups, institutions, events, and ideas. Such knowledge will better equip students to understand themselves and the roles they play in addressing the issues facing humanity.

Exemplary Educational Objectives:
1.   To employ the appropriate methods, technologies, and data that social and behavioral scientists use to investigate the human condition.
2.   To examine social institutions and processes across a range of historical periods, social structures, and cultures.
3.   To use and critique alternative explanatory systems or theories.
4.   To develop and communicate alternative explanations or solutions for contemporary social issues.
5.   To analyze the effects of historical, social, political, economic, cultural, and global forces on the area under study.
6.   To comprehend the origins and evolution of U.S. and Texas political systems, with a focus on the growth of political institutions, the constitutions of the U.S. and Texas, federalism, civil liberties, and civil and human rights.
7.   To understand the evolution and current role of the U.S. in the world.
8.     To differentiate and analyze historical evidence (documentary and statistical) and differing points of view.
9.   To recognize and apply reasonable criteria for the acceptability of historical evidence and social research.
10. To analyze, critically assess, and develop creative solutions to public policy problems.
11. To recognize and assume one’s responsibility as a citizen in a democratic society by learning to think for oneself, by engaging in public discourse, and by obtaining information through the news media and other appropriate information sources about politics and public policy.
12. To identify and understand differences and commonalities within diverse cultures.

Perspectives in the Core Curriculum
Another imperative of a core curriculum is that it contains courses that help students attain the following:
1.   Establish broad and multiple perspectives on the individual in relationship to the larger society and world in which he or she lives, and to understand the responsibilities of living in a culturally and ethnically diversified world;
2.   Stimulate a capacity to discuss and reflect upon individual, political, economic, and social aspects of life in order to understand ways in which to be a responsible member of society;
3.   Recognize the importance of maintaining health and wellness;
4.   Develop a capacity to use knowledge of how technology and science affect their lives;
5.   Develop personal values for ethical behavior;
6.   Develop the ability to make aesthetic judgments;
7.   Use logical reasoning in problem solving; and
8.   Integrate knowledge and understand the interrelationships of the scholarly disciplines.