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Core Requirement 2.7.3

In each undergraduate degree program, the institution requires the successful completion of a general education component at the collegiate level that (1) is a substantial component of each undergraduate degree, (2) ensures breadth of knowledge, and (3) is based on a coherent rationale. For degree completion in associate programs, the component constitutes a minimum of 15 semester hours or the equivalent; for baccalaureate programs, a minimum of 30 semester hours or the equivalent. These credit hours are to be drawn from and include at least one course from each of the following areas:  humanities/fine arts, social/behavioral sciences, and natural science/mathematics. The courses do not narrowly focus on those skills, techniques, and procedures specific to a particular occupation or profession. If an institution uses a unit other than semester credit hours, it provides an explanation for the equivalency. The institution also provides a justification if it allows for fewer than the required number of semester credit hours or its equivalent unit of general education courses. (General Education)  

Judgement: Compliant

Narrative:  

The University of South Carolina Upstate (USC Upstate) requires the successful completion of a general education component at the collegiate level.  USC Upstate’s general education program has gone through major revisions as noted in the General Education Proposal – Spring 2006 – April 19, 2006 and the Approved Revisions to Gen Ed Program – February 2009.  The current description of the general education program is listed in the 2011-2012 Academic Catalog.  Our competency-based general education program provides students with a breadth of knowledge and common academic experience in line with the mission.

Each graduate from USC Upstate is obligated to finish a collegiate-level general education program that is a substantial component of his/her undergraduate degree program.  USC Upstate’s general education program requires 43-46 credit hours.  The bachelor’s degrees at USC Upstate require 120-130 credit hours.  The Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology Management, which is the only degree program that could call for up to 130 hours, requires a general education program of 45 credit hours.  Hence, for each bachelor’s degree program at USC Upstate, the general education program makes up at least one third of the total credit hours, making our general education program “a substantial component of each undergraduate degree.”

The general education program at USC Upstate “ensures breadth of knowledge.”  Each USC Upstate student must complete a broad range of courses to acquire the wide base of knowledge. A required distribution of courses is drawn from eight general content areas: communication, mathematics and logic, information technology, natural sciences, arts and humanities, foreign language and culture, history, and social and behavioral sciences.  These eight areas cover a wide spectrum of fields guaranteeing breadth of knowledge and a solid foundation for upper level courses.  Students are required to complete courses from each of these areas.  Therefore, students will be exposed to at least one course from humanities/fine arts, social/behavioral sciences, and natural science/mathematics. The General Education Course Distribution lists all the specific courses for each of the eight general content areas.

USC Upstate’s general education program was developed on a competency-based general education model.  According to this model, students demonstrate achievement in a common set of general education competencies rather than demonstrate mastery of individual course content. A competency-based general education model stipulates that competencies should be broad based and serve as the foundational and supporting skills on which the majors can build rather than a collection of course-content-specific knowledge strung together.  Competencies and student learning outcomes were created to collect and evaluate information (acquire knowledge), integrate and draw conclusions (create knowledge), and communicate this knowledge to others. They were also created to focus general education on essential skills and knowledge all students should possess at the end of their USC Upstate learning experience.  The five competencies and nine related student learning outcomes (SLOs), as outlined below, form the framework for the assessment plan.

  • Competency 1: The USC Upstate graduate should demonstrate an ability to communicate in English, both orally and in writing.
    • SLO 1.1:  Students are able to create and deliver coherent, grammatically correct oral presentations.
    • SLO 1.2:  Students are able to create coherent, grammatically correct responses to prompts and questions.
     
  • Competency 2: The USC Upstate graduate should demonstrate an understanding of and an ability to apply scientific investigation and quantitative and logical reasoning.
    • SLO 2.1:  Students demonstrate an ability to apply scientific reasoning by drawing appropriate conclusions from scientific data.
    • SLO 2.2:  Students demonstrate an ability to apply quantitative and logical reasoning by producing solutions to or analyses of appropriate problems.
     
  • Competency 3: The USC Upstate graduate should be able to integrate and critically evaluate information.
    • SLO 3.1:  Students are able to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of varying points of view.
    • SLO 3.2:  Students demonstrate the ability to distinguish between pertinent and irrelevant information.
     
  • Competency 4: The USC Upstate graduate should understand and demonstrate an awareness of distinctive features of language and cultures.
    • SLO 4.1:  Students demonstrate knowledge of linguistic and cultural diversity and contributions of such diversity to society.
     
  • Competency 5: The USC Upstate graduate should demonstrate responsible and appropriate use of information knowledge.
    • SLO 5.1:  Students are able to gather and correctly process information through appropriate use of technological tools.
    • SLO 5.2:  Students demonstrate the ability to use information technologies to communicate information to others.
     

Each course in the general education program supports at least one SLO in two different competencies as outlined in the Course Alignment Matrix. For new courses to be included in the general education program, a rational explanation of how the course satisfies this requirement and contributes to student abilities must be submitted to the General Education Committee for approval using the General Education Competency Alignment form.  The General Education Committee is responsible for reviewing all courses for inclusion in general education curriculum and determining the course contribution to the goals of the program and University. Each degree program lists the general education courses that satisfy the requirements for humanities/fine arts, social/behavioral sciences, natural science/mathematics.

USC Upstate recognizes general education transfer credits from national and international accredited institutions. Articulation agreements support this process. For courses not covered in these agreements, faculty review syllabi, catalog descriptions, catalogs, and other supporting documentation to determine course equivalencies of transfer courses.

Upstate Direct Connect was started in fall 2010 to enhance and streamline the transfer from 2-year institutions.  Students who graduate with an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or select Associate of Applied Science degrees from Greenville Technical College, Spartanburg Community College, Spartanburg Methodist College, or Tri-County Technical College and meet our admission requirements are admitted to USC Upstate.  Joint Resolutions and Collaborative transfer advisement forms aid in this process.

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