UNT’s Core Curriculum provides the foundation of undergraduate education, giving students a breadth of knowledge to inform their later development in their chosen area(s) of study. The state of Texas has mandated specific features of the core curriculum, which is administered through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).
THECB has identified six core objectives:
- Critical Thinking: creative thinking; innovation; inquiry; and analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of information
- Communication: effective development, interpretation, and expression of ideas through written, oral, and visual communication
- Empirical and Quantitative Skills: manipulation and analysis of numerical data or observable facts resulting in informed conclusions
- Teamwork: ability to consider different points of view and to work effectively with others to support a shared purpose or goal
- Social Responsibility: intercultural competence, knowledge of civic responsibility, and the ability to engage effectively in regional, national, and global communities
- Personal Responsibility: ability to connect choices, actions, and consequences to ethical decision-making
These objectives are organized into foundational component areas, which can be found in the undergraduate catalog under University Core Curriculum. Students select core courses to meet the state semester credit hour requirements for each foundational component area for a total of 42 hours.
Department responsibilities with regard to the UNT Core Curriculum include stewardship of core courses as well as reporting of student assessment results and department efforts toward increasing student mastery of the core objectives.
The Director of the Core oversees all things core and is here to support faculty efforts by consulting on major or minor issues including, but not limited to:
- talking through the prospect of adding a course to the core
- designing signature assessments and/or rubrics
- helping consider the impact of a change to a core course
- collaborating as you move through any process related to core
- facilitating data analysis and action planning at the faculty or department level
- training for scorers using core rubrics
- leading leveling conversations among faculty to strengthen scoring at the course or department level
Core Curriculum Stewardship
Stewardship of the core curriculum extends in multiple directions. Approval of core additions, modifications, and deletions must be obtained through the usual UNT channels as well as the Director of the Core, the Oversight Committee of the Core Curriculum (OCCC), and ultimately the THECB. To be considered for inclusion in the catalog for the following academic year, new core courses must be heard by the University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UUCC) by its October meeting; core course modifications must be heard by the OCCC by its March meeting.
The development of new courses for the core or the initial inclusion of an existing course as part of the core curriculum focuses on the appropriateness of the course to be in the core. Core courses must fit in one foundational component area or may be placed in Component Area B, which is more open-ended. In general core courses must be open to all students regardless of major, should not have prerequisites (or be limited to other core course), and must include an assessment on which students can demonstrate their level of mastery of the specified core objectives (also known as a signature assessment). Requests for courses to be added to the core should be made through Curriculog and must include a syllabus along with an assessment plan and procedures.
Modification of courses included in the core must also receive core approval through Curriculog including the review of the signature assessment. It is possible that state requirements will have changed since the course was originally designated as part of the core, and those requirements will need to be met when a change is made—no matter how minor the change.
Deletion of core courses altogether or simply removing the course from the UNT core curriculum should also be made through Curriculog.
Finally, maintaining the integrity of core courses is paramount. This includes ensuring that all sections of a core course are deploying the same signature assessment and aligning to the UNT core rubrics when applicable. The UNT core rubrics can be used individually or in combination to assess the core objectives for each foundational area or departments can create their own rubrics that align to the UNT core rubrics:
- Critical Thinking
- Empirical and Quantitative Skills
- Personal Responsibility
- Social Responsibility
Any changes to a core assessment are approved by the Director of the Core and the OCCC to ensure alignment with the core objectives and rubrics.
All departments are responsible for reporting on core courses each semester including student assessment results for each course, an analysis of those results, a discussion of the use of those results, and action plans showing the department’s efforts to support student mastery of relevant core objectives. Departments may opt to report on the core using Canvas or Improve.
Reporting in Canvas involves faculty scoring student-submitted work using the UNT core rubrics appropriate to the foundational area to which the course is assigned. Student data are aggregated at the course and department levels including mean scores and distribution across scoring levels by the Director of the Core and returned to the department after each semester. Departments are then responsible for analyzing the data and determining how to use it for continuous improvement with regard to the core objectives. The analysis and improvement efforts are documented by the department on a Qualtrics survey sent by the Director of the Core along with the student data.
Reporting in Improve involves students submitting work on approved signature assignments using either a UNT core rubric or an approved departmental rubric. Departments aggregate student results and analyze the data and determine how to use it for continuous improvement with regard to the core objectives. While core reporting in Improve is very similar to institutional effectiveness program reporting (IE), core reporting must be submitted at the end of each semester.
Core Resources for Faculty
A collection of resources for faculty and chairs related to the core curriculum including rules and regulations, Curriculog instructions and forms, data reporting processes, guides for setting up courses in Canvas to capture core data. Other resources include slide decks created for UNT focused on developing strong core assessments and rubrics as well as professional development for teaching core skills and using strategies that faculty can implement overnight.