Core curriculum is defined in House Bill 2183 of the Texas Legislature as “the curriculum in the liberal arts, humanities, sciences, and political, social, and cultural history that all undergraduates of a particular institution of higher education are required to complete before receiving an associate or baccalaureate degree.” HB 2183 also gave The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board the responsibility for ensuring that each state-supported college and university have a core curriculum. In compliance with state recommendations and in the spirit of improving its educational service to students, Austin Community College requires that all students seeking an Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, or an Associate in General Studies Degree complete the core curriculum. The purpose of the core curriculum is to provide the skills, knowledge, and perspectives that help define the educated person. The courses that are included in the core curriculum will contribute to the acquisition of these skills, perspectives, and to a basic core of knowledge. Educational outcomes have been written so that the College can assess the effectiveness of this program.
Basic Intellectual Competencies in the Core Curriculum
The core curriculum is predicated on a series of basic intellectual competencies-reading, writing, speaking, listening, critical thinking, and computer literacy-that are essential to the learning process in any discipline. Although students can be expected to come to college with some experience in exercising these competencies, they often need further instruction and practice to meet college standards and, later, to succeed in both their major field of academic study and their chosen career or profession. These competencies are:
READING: Reading at the college level means the ability to analyze and interpret a variety of printed materials-books, articles, and documents. A core curriculum should offer students the opportunity to master both general methods of analyzing printed materials and specific methods for analyzing the subject matter of individual disciplines.
WRITING: Competency in writing is the ability to produce clear, correct, and coherent prose adapted to purpose, occasion, and audience. Although correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation are essential in any composition, they do not automatically ensure that the composition itself makes sense or that the writer has much of anything to say. Students need to be familiar with the writing process including how to discover a topic and how to develop and organize it, how to phrase it effectively for their audience. These abilities can be acquired only through practice and reflection.
SPEAKING: Competence in speaking is the ability to communicate orally in clear, coherent, and persuasive language appropriate to purpose, occasion, and audience. Developing this competency includes acquiring poise and developing control of the language through experience in making presentations to small groups, to large groups, and through the media.
LISTENING: Listening at the college level means the ability to analyze and interpret various forms of spoken communication.
CRITICAL THINKING: Critical thinking embraces methods for applying both qualitative and quantitative skills analytically and creatively to subject matter in order to evaluate arguments and to construct alternative strategies. Problem solving is one of the applications of critical thinking, used to address an identified task.
COMPUTER LITERACY: Computer literacy at the college level means the ability to use computer-based technology in communicating, solving problems, and acquiring information. Core-education students should have an understanding of the limits, problems, and possibilities associated with the use of technology, and should have the tools necessary to evaluate and learn new technologies as they become available.
Perspectives in the Core Curriculum
Another imperative of a core curriculum is that it contain courses that help students attain the following:
1. Establish broad and multiple perspectives on the individual in relationship to the larger society and world in which he or she lives, and to understand the responsibility of living in a culturally and ethnically diversified world;
2. Stimulate a capacity to discuss and reflect upon individual, political, economic, and social aspects of life in order to understand ways in which to be a responsible member of society;
3. Recognize the importance of maintaining health and wellness;
4. Develop a capacity to use knowledge of how technology and science affect their lives;
5. Develop personal values for ethical behavior;
6. Develop the ability to make aesthetic judgments;
7. Use logical reasoning in problem solving; and
8. Integrate knowledge and understand the interrelationship of the scholarly disciplines.
Core Components and Related
The following exemplary educational objectives should be used as basic guidelines for selected component areas.
I. COMMUNICATION (composition and speech)
The objective of a communication component of a core curriculum is to enable the student to communicate effectively in clear and correct prose in a style appropriate to the subject, occasion, and audience.
Exemplary Educational Objectives
1. To understand and demonstrate writing and speaking processes through invention, organization, drafting, revision, editing, and presentation.