In an effort to enhance student learning, the California State University System established new guidelines for general education requirements that provide broad exposure to many disciplines and focus on crucial skill sets needed for the global economy in July 2008. CSU’s faculty and administrators have relied in part on the Liberal Education and American Promise (LEAP) campaign, an initiative of the Association of American Colleges and Universities to develop the new guidelines. Each CSU campus will organize its general education requirements around four main categories of student learning outcomes:
- Knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world that would include study in history, the humanities, and the natural, social and behavioral sciences;
- Intellectual and practical skills that help students think clearly and logically, write and speak effectively, as well as to use quantitative reasoning skills to solve problems;
- Personal and social responsibility including knowledge of issues confronting local or global communities, life skills such as intercultural competency, financial literacy, and engagement in lifelong learning and self-development, and
- Integrative learning where students combine what they learn across different courses and areas to gain a “big picture” of the world.
“Incorporating the LEAP framework into our general education curriculum should help students to more clearly focus on the skills, abilities, and attitudes necessary not only for success in the classroom, but also in their careers, as they engage in lifelong learning, and as they become community leaders,” said John Tarjan, chair of the Academic Senate CSU and former chair of the system’s General Education Advisory Committee. “The current structure of our general education program, which provides students with an exposure to the physical and life sciences, the social sciences and the arts and humanities, is largely unchanged. What has changed is an increasing expectation that we emphasize not only what students know but how they analyze, communicate and integrate knowledge.”
Using the framework of the learning outcomes, each CSU campus will be able to design its general education courses to help students achieve the LEAP outcomes. This will result in greater consistency in course assessment and measures of student learning.