General Education Publications

Why Do I Have to Take This Course? A Student Guide to Making Smart Educational Choices

This practical guide for undergraduate students is intended to take some of the mystery out of curricular requirements and educates students about what really matters in college—the broad learning outcomes developed over the entire course of their undergraduate years. It provides specific information on the aims and purposes of general education courses and programs....

General Education: A Self-Study Guide for Review and Assessment

This practical guide is designed for campuses undertaking a review of their general education programs. Organized as a series of probing questions, it can help the facultyy and academic administration plan a self-study. While not providing answers to the questions posed or recommending particular approaches, the guide presents steps of a process that can be used either for program review of an existing program or for general education redesign.

The Art and Science of Assessing General Education Outcomes: A Practical Guide

This guide offers practical recommendations for individuals involved with the assessment of general education programs and outcomes on campus. It includes a step-by-step assessment checklist, tips for better assessment, and examples of assessment tools, methods, and rubrics for assessing a variety of key outcomes of a quality general education.

General Education and Student Transfer: Fostering Intentionality and Coherence in State Systems

Supported by AAC&U's Greater Expectations for Student Transfer project, this publication examines the challenge of clearly defining and communicating educational purposes at a time when most undergraduates attend multiple institutions. The authors survey state-level general education requirements, arguing that state higher education systems must serve as guarantors of programmatic coherence. Included are essays by Robert Shoenberg and Martin Finkelstein as well as reports from state systems in Utah, Georgia, and Maryland.

General Education and the Assessment Reform Agenda

Author Peter Ewell calls for accountability in higher education by focusing on abilities, alignment, assessment, and action. Drawing on the architecture of AAC&U's 2002 report Greater Expectations, Ewell uses these four "A-words" to reflect on how we can link assessment and general education, while assuming collective responsibility for the academy and its integrity.

Peer Review, Fall 2004
Peer Review, Fall 2004

Peer Review, Fall 2004: Challenging the widespread notion that general education is something to "get out of the way as soon as possible," this issue explores ways that campuses are now working to cultivate important outcomes across the curriculum and, given the growth in student transfer, across institutions.Read more

Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College

This report of the Greater Expectations National Panel calls for a new focus on excellence to better prepare students for the 21st century world. The report recommends the creation of a New Academy characterized by high expectations, a focus on learning, commitment to demonstrated achievement, intentional practices, and an engaged, practical liberal education for all students.

About the Initiative

Greater Expectations, a major initiative of AAC&U from 2000-2006, articulated the aims and purposes of a twenty-first century liberal education, identified innovative models that improve campus practices and learning for all undergraduate students, and advocated for a comprehensive approach to reform. The work of the Greater Expectations initiative laid the foundation for AAC&U's current initiative Liberal Education and America's Promise.

The work was supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Carnegie Corporation of New...

The Status of General Education in the Year 2000: Summary of a National Survey

Summarizes the results of an extensive survey of undergraduate general education in a national sample of AAC&U-member colleges and universities, which was conducted by staff at AAC&U and at the Center for the Study of Higher Education at The Pennsylvania State University. It provides a snapshot of general education practice at the turn-of-the-century, information about significant changes in the past decade, and insight about the challenges of the future.

General Education in an Age of Student Mobility: An Invitation to Discuss Systemic Curricular Planning

Considers the challenge of designing a coherent curriculum for an increasingly mobile student population. Asks how the integrity of individual general education programs can be maintained in the face of public pressures to simplify transfer. Might colleges and universities assess students on the basis of specific learning outcomes, or will they continue to regard a random collection of credit hours as though it amounted to a meaningful education?

General Education: The Changing Agenda

An analysis of the changes in general education over the last two decades, since the reform of general education broke onto the scene in the late 1970s. Also focuses on several new challenges facing curriculum reformers today.

Core Curriculum and Cultural Pluralism: A Guide for Campus Planners

This well-documented report studies more than 50 colleges and universities working to bring world and U.S. cultures into general education. It also provides a guide for academic leaders working to design and implement new general education programs. Includes sample syllabi, core proposals, curriculum profiles, and advice for overcoming potential difficulties related to curriculum change and faculty development.

Integrity in the College Curriculum

This publication is an AAC&U classic. One of the most widely read and influential higher education reports, this volume is the final word on AAC&U's project on Redefining the Meaning and Purpose of Baccalaureate Degrees. The nineteen educators who framed Integrity included Ernest Boyer, Arthur Levine, Charles Muscatine, Frederick Rudolph, Linda B. Salamon, and Jonathon Z. Smith. Drawing on a national analysis of campus practices, the report punctured the prevailing complacency that college majors had remained purposeful and well-structured, even as general education had collapsed.