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Consistency

Assuring Rigor in Undergraduate Courses

 Agenda     Speakers     Discussion Groups     Resources     Report & Recommendations 

Problem statement

Studies of student transfer patterns indicate that “traditional” college students—those who graduate high school and then immediately attend just one institution in order to earn their degree within four years—now represent the minority of those attending higher education. This suggests that transferability—not just of course credits, but also of student outcomes—is more important than ever. Are lower-division transfer courses giving students the knowledge and skills they need to be sufficiently prepared for upper-division courses in their major? Are there disciplines in which state-wide articulation agreements (or other tools to assist the transfer process) need to be developed in order to insure consistent preparation of students at the lower-division level?

Background

The legislation and rules that govern the core curriculum in Texas were passed in 1999, giving us almost a decade of experience with this widely-used curricular transfer tool. It reaches every student in higher education, and serves as the foundation of every academic degree program. How well is the Core Curriculum functioning in Texas? How could it be improved?

CB data show a clear and steady increase for dual credit utilization by high school students. As more and more school districts form partnerships with colleges and universities to serve growing numbers of students, what should the higher education community do to insure that all dual credit courses, including those taught by qualified high school faculty, meet the expected student learning outcomes? What can be done to meet the challenge of overseeing instruction at a high school location which may be many miles from the main campus?

Recommendations: Assuring Rigor

  1. Are lower-division transfer courses giving students the knowledge and skills they need to be sufficiently prepared for upper-division courses in their major?

    Recommend a two-stage process: Using the college readiness standards model, have local faculty groups by discipline talk and come to agreement student learning outcomes. Then representatives from local groups come together at the state to determine course outcomes. Then amend the Academic Course Guide Manual based on those recommendations. (Any process created needs to feed into SACS.)

  2. Are there disciplines in which state-wide articulation agreements or other tools to assist the transfer process need to be developed in order to insure consistent preparation of students at the lower-division level?

    Good advising and good counseling is critical. The indispensable assistance that advisors can give to students is the key.

    A learning skills course that is funded and provides academic credit should be considered for inclusion in the Academic Course Guide Manual.

  3. How well is the Core Curriculum functioning in Texas? Could it be improved?

    The Core Curriculum must be reevaluated for relevance to global conditions, rigor for transfer preparation, and consistency between and among institutions including consideration of statutory 12 hour requirement for Government and History. This reevaluation should include possible revisions of the educational objectives of the Core.

  4. Dual Credit

    What should the higher education community do to insure that all dual credit courses, including those taught by qualified high school faculty, meet the expected student learning outcomes?

    As in issue one above, the first step is to specify learning outcomes for lower-division courses. That will address the issue of dual credit learning outcomes.

    What can be done to meet the challenge of overseeing instruction at a high school location which may be many miles from the main campus?

    A study should be conducted to determine how dual credit students compare in performance to the larger student population. Variables should include location, method of delivery, and type of faculty.


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