History of the Core Curriculum

The Higher Learning Commission’s May 2010 report of its evaluation visit to Purdue University West Lafayette (PWL) notes that the institution does not have a consistent campus-wide core curriculum or a shared set of general education requirements across all its undergraduate degree programs.

In 2011, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) revises its criteria for accreditation. It mandates that all institutions maintain a minimum requirement for general education . “Through a traditional practice of distributed curricula (15 semester credits for AAS degrees, 24 for AS or AA degrees, and 30 for bachelor’s degrees) or through integrated, embedded, inter-disciplinary, or other accepted models that demonstrate a minimum requirement equivalent to the distributed model. Any variation is explained and justified.”

The Higher Learning Commission also mandates that, “the institution articulates the purposes, content, and intended learning outcomes of its undergraduate general education requirements.  The program of general education is grounded in a philosophy or framework developed by the institution or adopted from an established framework. It imparts broad knowledge and intellectual concepts to students and develops skills and attitudes that the institution believes every college-educated person should possess.” (HLC, Criteria Revision Initiative - Gamma Version - November 9, 2011).

The Purdue West Lafayette (PWL) University Senate approves the establishment of a Core Curriculum Committee to create a Purdue University undergraduate core curriculum (2011).

Indiana Senate Act 182 (2012) requires state educational institutions to create a statewide transfer general education core and implement it by May 15, 2013.

The PWL University Senate approves the Core Curriculum Committee’s plan (University Senate Document 11-7).  University Senate Document 11-7 charges the Undergraduate Curriculum Council (UCC) with the administration and oversight of the core curriculum.

The UCC determined implementation of the new university core curriculum and began reviewing courses nominated for inclusion in the core.

  • In its first two years, the UCC evaluated hundreds of Purdue West Lafayette (PWL) courses for inclusion in the Foundational learning outcomes core.

Purdue University’s undergraduate outcomes-based core curriculum, comprising Foundational and Embedded Outcomes, goes into effect in the Fall semester.

  • Foundational learning outcomes (FLOs) are at the course level and overseen by the UCC. These outcomes are:
    • Written Communication (WC)
    • Oral Communication (OC)
    • Science (SCI)
    • Information Literacy (IL)
    • Human Cultures: Humanities (HUM)
    • Human Cultures: Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS)
    • Quantitative Reasoning (QR)
    • Science, Technology and Society (STS)
  • Students meeting all of these Foundational outcomes with 30 hours of approved courses also meet the Statewide Transfer General Education Core requirement.
  • Eleven Embedded learning outcomes are managed at the program level.

The UCC hears concerns from faculty, staff, and administrators about the embedded outcomes. These include:

  • An inability to operationalize and distinguish among embedded outcomes
  • A large number of embedded outcomes
  • The challenge of assessing eleven embedded outcomes

In response, the UCC merged eleven embedded outcomes into a more manageable and assessable set of three embedded outcomes (Communication; Ways of Thinking; and Interpersonal Skills and Intercultural Knowledge).

The UCC devises assessment plans based on responsibilities laid out in Senate Document 11-7.

  • Foundational learning outcome courses to be reviewed on a five-year cycle
    • Responsibility for Foundational outcome assessment rests with the UCC.
    • Assessment to be coordinated by Institutional Data, Analytics and Assessment (IDA+A; formerly OIRAE).
  • Embedded outcomes to be reviewed on a four-year cycle
    • Oversight and assessment are at the program level.
    • Programs with outside accreditation processes exempted from the cycle.
    • IDA+A to assist with coordination and documentation of Embedded outcomes assessment.

Courses in the SCI (currently 66 courses) and OC (currently 4 courses) Foundational outcomes categories are assessed by the UCC/IDA+A.

The Embedded outcome, Communication, is assessed by programs.

Half of the 270 courses in the HUM Foundational outcome category are due to be assessed by the UCC/IDA+A.

The Embedded outcome, Ways of Thinking, is assessed by programs.

The remaining half of the courses in the HUM Foundational outcome category are due to be assessed by UCC/IDA+A.

The Embedded outcome, Interpersonal Skills and Intercultural Knowledge, is assessed by programs.

The UCC proposes revised language for the QR Foundational outcome that addresses deficits in the ability to assess the outcome as originally written. The PWL University Senate ratifies the revised language.

Courses in the WC (10 courses), IL (22 courses), and STS (81 courses) Foundational outcomes categories are due to be assessed.

A serious breakdown in the process of assessing Foundational outcomes during AY 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 is discovered. The UCC and IDA+A begin working to improve assessment processes.

  • In summer of 2019, faculty members of the UCC, assisted by Margaret Wu from IDA+A, review materials submitted in support of the WC, IL, STS, and HUM Foundational outcomes.
  • Courses are categorized as 1) meets or exceeds expectations with regards to the learning outcome or 2) needs modification in cases where it was not clear that the materials submitted were sufficient to provide evidence that the course meets a particular outcome. Assessment of some courses is deferred when requested by departments.
  • A website is developed to provide templates and examples for submission of assessment materials to improve transparency and clarity of assessments

To complete the 4-year Embedded outcome assessment cycle, programs reflect on the assessment of Embedded outcomes, and describe any planned changes in response to assessment results.

In Fall 2019, results of the UCC review of Foundational outcome assessments of WC, IL, STS and HUM are communicated to colleges.

  • Courses noted to need modification are asked to provide evidence of changes to the course by January 2021 for continued inclusion on the Foundational outcomes core.

In response to review of assessment materials, the UCC prepares drafts of revised language of selected Foundational outcomes (WC, HUM, BSS, IL and STS). The new language is designed to:

  • Clarify what will be assessed for each outcome.
  • Reflect updates in the relevant fields with regard to each outcome.
  • Align PWL outcomes more effectively with state-level outcomes, since the state-level outcomes and PWL outcomes were developed independently and contemporaneously.

The proposed changes are approved by the PWL University Senate (Senate Document 19-13).

Courses in the QR (18 courses) and BSS (58 courses) Foundational categories due to be assessed by UCC/IDA+A. The four-year embedded outcome assessment starts over with program assessment of Communication. The five-year cycle of Foundational outcome assessment will start over with courses in the SCI and OC categories in AY 2020-2021.

Purdue University is reaffirmed in its accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission.

  • In Fall 2020, the council approved moving from a 5-year evaluation cycle to a 3-year evaluation cycle.
  • University Senate approved updates to the language of the key skill of some of our Foundational Learning Outcomes (FLOs) to clarify attainment and ensure currency.
  • Undergraduate Curriculum Council (UCC) approved moving from a 5-year evaluation cycle to a 3-year evaluation cycle.
  • Institutional Data, Analytics, and Assessment (IDA+A) appointed by the Provost to oversee the coordination of all large-scale, longitudinal surveying efforts and, in this way, increase collaboration across our entire university on any large-scale surveying effort to alleviate survey and measurement fatigue. Under this charge, IDA+A formed the Survey Oversight Committee which has implemented a number of standard practices for the university-community to follow (see below).
  • Evidence materials submission for UCC through Brightspace to make the process easier to navigate for all of our instructors of courses tied to the FLOs.
  • Survey Oversight Committee develops two new resources for the Purdue community: the survey calendar and an updated project request form.
  • UCC approved streamlining required FLO evidence materials.
  • UCC approved the application of a rubric to the set of evidence materials collected, in order to improve the feedback loop of this continuous improvement process.
  • University Senate approved the addition of a new Embedded Learning Outcome (ELO) to our core curriculum: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
  • A new UCC evaluation process and standard operating procedures created (p. 16-20).
  • Two new institutional measures on Campus Belonging and Campus Well-Being are developed and validated.

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