2022 General Education Revision FAQ

Last Updated 11.10.2022

The following FAQ addresses questions received by the CCC at our August forums and presentations, as well as the September faculty assembly meeting. There are additional questions that we have not been able to respond to yet. We will update this page regularly as we have answers to existing questions and as we receive new questions from faculty, staff, and students.

Questions about the Design

Will students avoid difficult or challenging courses with this design?
We do not feel that an effective course is necessarily one that is “difficult.” We do, however, think an effective course will always be intellectually challenging. The courses in our current general education program are intellectually challenging and hold students to high standards. These same courses will meet the requirements for the proposed revision.

What are we losing without disciplines? 
The model does not eliminate disciplines or disciplinary thinking. Rather, it is organizing courses and requirements according to the central practices the disciplines teach students. The courses that students take to meet these requirements will be largely the same as in our current model. Disciplinary methods and ways of thinking will still be prioritized.

Questions about the First Year Experience

Does this revision mean all students take FYEP 101 (when only 70% or so do at present)?

No, this revision will not require FYEP 101 of additional students. We will need the same amount of seats for FYEP/Writing 101.

The loss of FYEP 190 presents a challenge to some departments. What opportunities does the revision offer for recruitment to majors? How should departments message to students why they have to take an extra course outside the major (where FYEP 190 would count in the major)?

We imagine that FYEP 101/Writing Seminar and FYEP 102/DJS Seminar will both offer opportunities to recruit students to majors and minors. Both courses may be taught by faculty from any department or program in the university. Both courses will focus on themes and questions relevant to the instructor’s disciplinary expertise and interest. The courses have common learning outcomes and some shared expectations, but generally the instructor will have a great deal of control over course content and methods of instruction. It is true these courses will not “double-dip” with major requirements. However, they can be dynamic recruitment tools and first steps toward introductory courses in the major.

Do we have enough instructors to staff these new FYEP requirements (FYEP 102 and PLUS 100)? Can we manage a scaffolded First Year Experience with three requirements? Can we ensure that all PLUS 100 instructors are paid for their time?

Regarding the addition of a required PLUS 100 course, we are confident we can make this work. For AY 22-23, we are offering PLUS 100 seats to all first year students. The departments, programs, and offices that staff these courses have already been working toward a sustainable staffing model. We will work with the Provost’s Office to ensure all instructors are paid for this work and/or see the course fairly integrated into their core responsibilities.

Regarding the creation of the FYEP 102/DJS course, we are still working on this staffing model. We can say for certain that a smaller general education core will reduce the aggregate number of seats needed to staff general education at PLU. Of course, many courses that count for general education also count for majors, minors, and other programs. This means that, while some seats may not be needed for general education, the courses will still be taught. Our efforts are now focused on determining how many faculty will be interested in making room for 102 in their regular course rotations. Following that we’ll need to work with deans and chairs to determine if these faculty can be made available to teach 102 on a regular basis. We’ll share more information as soon as we have it.

What faculty development opportunities will we provide for faculty who wish to teach FYEP/DJS 102? How do we honor the time it will take to develop this course?

We are currently in discussions about how to support faculty who want to teach the FYEP 102/DJS course. We are considering a stipend support model, as well as a “DJS fellows” program that would recruit cohorts each year to develop the 102 course. Regardless, there will be robust development support offered through the First-Year Experience Program.

The FYEP 102/DJS seminar is currently unclear. How will the course be delivered? What are the learning goals?

The learning goals and specific parameters for the course are still in development, but we do have materials from the  FYEP working group that first designed the course (from 2018 to 2020). The learning outcomes for that course were: Students will learn about diversity, justice, and sustainability, and their intersections, by critically reflecting on individual and collective identity, exploring human systems, and examining power structures. Additionally, students will develop skills for active listening and communicating/collaborating across differences. Common texts and assignments will be made available, but are not required for the course. Ideally, the course will include some component of problem- or place-focused learning that will equip students with skills for exploring DJS in applied contexts.

How will we motivate students who are not interested in DJS to care about the FYEP 102/DJS Seminar?

Many PLU students are seeking additional opportunities to engage with DJS in the curriculum, but there will be some that are less interested. We hope the course will be attractive for these students because it will offer them experience developing skills that are highly valued in the contemporary professional marketplace (NACE 2021). Increasingly, employers want soft skills that prepare students to work in dynamic, diverse, and goal-directed workplaces. Students in FYEP 102/DJS Seminar will develop skills for active listening and communication across differences. They’ll have practice with complex problem solving and collaboration with people from diverse backgrounds. They’ll build on the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills they developed in FYEP 101 and other courses.

How will we motivate students who are not interested in a PLU transitions course to care about the PLUS 100?

For AY 22-23, roughly 95% of the first-year student population is enrolled in PLUS 100. Based on early feedback, we feel confident that students will find value in this course. The PLUS 100 course is part of extended orientation, offering students community and information over the course of their first fall semester. Students have options for how they will take the class. Specific sections are set up by affinity group (SOC, LGBTQIA,FIF) as well as by athletic team and residence/commuter area. Students earn one credit hour and are better equipped to access the support structures created for them.

This requirement is very difficult for large and/or tightly scaffolded majors. How can they fit this course in the first semester?

If PLUS 100  is required, then, unfortunately, something else will have to ‘give.’ We hope programs will look at the entire first year curriculum and rearrange required courses to include J-term opportunities or spring courses so the one credit hour for PLUS 100 is available. Looking at the entire year of the required entering coursework might increase opportunities for the PLUS 100 to fit into fall term.

This course is taught by staff and administrators. Does that result in students devaluing it? Are these instructors qualified?

We hope students will value the course because it will provide them with pathways to success at the start of their experience at PLU. The course is built around practical, day-to-day lessons (e.g., how to use Sakai, how to access faculty office hours, etc.) and more purpose-driven questions (e.g., how will your planned major help you achieve your personal, social, and professional goals?). Importantly, our PLUS 100 instructors are all specialists and deeply experienced in supporting students. Most have advanced degrees in student affairs or higher education leadership. All are experts in supporting students adapting to university life and navigating new academic environments. These instructors are already the support system our students use when they have questions about how to access resources on campus. We do not expect that non-faculty status will impact student valuation of the course material. To our knowledge, it has not had this effect in the past.

Questions about the Global Engagement Requirement

The global engagement requirement is unclear at this point. Who will decide which courses count? Who will determine the learning outcomes for the course?

The CCC will determine which courses carry a Global Engagement Element – a practice consistent with our current Gen Ed curriculum. Learning Outcomes will be drafted by the CCC in consultation with relevant stakeholder faculty.

The nature of the “double dip” in this requirement is confusing. Why only here?

The Global Engagement requirement “double-dips” with Ways of Being and Knowing in a similar way that our current diversity requirement may concurrently count for other Gen Ed requirements. This ensures the requirement is flexible and fits into existing curricular plans.

Questions about the Academic Study of Religion Requirement

What will be the focus of this course? What will be taught?

This requirement will be met by existing courses, mostly delivered by the Department of Religion. Students will choose from an array of courses offered by the Religion Department, all of which will meet the same core learning outcomes (as is the case now). There will not be a single “Study of Religion” course that all students are required to take. We feel it is important that students can still choose the subject matter that interests them.

Questions about the Fitness and Wellness Requirement

Do we need FTWL 100 and an activity course? Do we need a FTWL requirement?

The inclusion of the FTWL requirement reflects our commitment to the integration of mind and body, and to teaching the whole human. FTWL 100 encourages students to develop healthy habits for life-long health, wellness, and sustainable activity. The FTWL activity course offers a valuable opportunity to put FTWL 100 principles into practice and to engage in substantive physical activity that complements other forms of learning in the classroom. We view the FTWL requirement as an essential component of our academic identity.

Questions about the Revised Distributional Core: “Ways of Being and Knowing”

Will there be a lab requirement for the “physical and natural world” course?

This course will require some form of applied experience. This may be a traditional lab section, a field experience, or some other application of scientific thinking in the form of data collection and analysis, experimentation, etc.

Questions about the Culminating Experience Requirement

What are the expectations or requirements for the culminating experience?

While there will be broad general education learning outcomes for this requirement (as there are now), the nature of the course content and the details of culminating assignment(s) will be determined by each department or program.

What are the learning objectives (or how will they be determined)?

Learning outcomes for this requirement will be designed by CCC in collaboration with the faculty. The outcomes will be broad enough to encompass a wide variety of culminating experience options, but unified enough that students may understand they are participating in a shared experience.

Questions related to program administration and logistics

What will be the oversight process for the program? Who will “map” the program and ensure the right courses count for the right requirements? Who will ensure we have enough of each requirement? Who will ensure every course is teaching the approved learning outcomes? If CCC, isn’t this a lot more work for them?

Oversight of the Core Curriculum as specified in the Faculty Handbook (Part VII. Section 2.) is the responsibility of the CCC with significant administrative oversight from the Dean of Assessment and Core Curriculum.

Who will define the nature of each element? We must avoid being too broad and too specific.

The Learning Outcomes (LOs) will serve to define the nature of each element. These LOs will be determined by the CCC in communication with relevant faculty stakeholders.

How does the redesign impact transfer students? Are they losing value for what they bring with them?

The revision was created with the commitment that no additional barriers would be placed in front of students who want to come to PLU. This includes transfer students. All transfer equivalencies will need to be updated, but we have every expectation that this process, once completed, will not add new burdens for transfer students. Credits that once transferred will continue to do so. Any acceptable credits that do not count for Gen Ed will still count for progress toward degree. Transfer students will not get less value for the work they’ve done elsewhere.

Will students have a harder time getting to 128 credits with a smaller core?

A smaller core offers students more flexibility in the courses they take. Fewer requirements means that students will have a wider variety of courses available to them as they progress toward 128 credits.

Will faculty have to teach to entirely new LOs?

We are using previously adopted LOs as a starting point in this process. We hope to maximize faculty expertise already present on campus.

Does this revision impact conversations about the 44-hour rule?

No. The 44 hour rule is not part of general education.

Will the smaller core discourage some program from participating (out of a sense they aren’t needed)?

Since Gen Ed elements will be tied to LOs rather than departments and programs, this curriculum actually opens up opportunities for broader program participation in Gen Ed.

Can we mandate next steps for the evolution of the program (e.g., the applied learning requirement, etc)?

In our initial presentations on the proposed revision, we mentioned several design revisions we considered but did not include. They were: 1) a required minor, 2) an applied learning requirement, 3) a second writing-intensive course, and 4) a second DJS-focused course. Additionally, there are many potential core revisions outlined in our synthesis of faculty priorities for general education. While we cannot mandate curricular change, CCC will regularly review the effectiveness of both the core curriculum design and delivery with the goal of integrating thoughtful change to better align the curriculum to faculty priorities and student needs. The Dean of Assessment and Core Curriculum and the CCC are always open to suggestions and feedback for the evolution of the program.