notes from group 4: piloting integrative GE transfer packages

Co-facilitators: Rose Asera (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching)

                          Audrey Green (College of the Canyons)

Recorder: Bettina Huber (CSU Compass Project Steering Committee)


Overview of Group #4 Discussion

(See Appendix for detailed notes on each session.)



Session #1: Brainstorming

       The session began with a review of the CSU’s current GE requirements and consideration of the multiple meanings of the term “Integrative”.  Thereafter, several participants described efforts on their campuses to establish a more outcomes-based approach to GE and there was some discussion of what the “ideal GE” might look like.  These initial considerations were followed by a wide-ranging discussion of how one might proceed to reform GE.  The major proposals put forward included (1) developing integrated series of courses designed to fulfill all GE requirements, (2) adding coherence to the curriculum by limiting GE course choices;  (3) streamlining Title V, and (4) developing a portable portfolio summarizing students’ GE work.  [For additional detail, see Appendix.]


Session #2: Implementation – Feasibility of Initial Proposals

       This second session commenced with a brief review of the topics considered in the first session for the benefit of the newcomers who had joined the group.  This led rather naturally to discussion of a number of definitional issues that continued to prove challenging, with the question of how the multiple meanings of “integration” might relate to GE reform dominating.  The issue of how amenable the CSU’s current GE requirements are to experimentation with outcomes-based approaches received considerable attention during the remainder of this second session, with two opposing views vigorously articulated: the current system does not allow for experimentation or introduction of high impact practices and the current system is flexible enough to accommodate new approaches.  In closing, several people articulated means of building new elements (e.g., outcomes-based learning, the LEAP outcomes, high impact practices) into the CU’s current GE system.  [For additional detail, see Appendix.]


Session #3: Final Vision(s) of Outcomes-Based GE Program

       Once again, this session began with a review of issues discussed in previous sessions, with the newly returned participants in session #1 adding perspectives from the meetings of other groups (e.g., means of assessing e-portfolios).  Thereafter, attention returned, once more, to the CSU’s new Title V Executive Order.  Since previous discussion had indicated that the components of the new order have not been well-communicated to the CCCs, the renewed discussion focused on how to improve CSU-CCC communication around GE issues and how to enhance the flexibility the new order allowed.  Thereafter, participants described both modest and more far-reaching changes that they felt would address weaknesses in the CSU’s current GE system.  The session ended with delineation of several desirable follow-up activities to the current meeting.  [For additional detail, see Appendix.]



Appendix: Detailed Notes on Group #4 Discussions


Session #1: Brainstorming


I. The Nature of the current transfer GE


       – 39 units of course work required


       – are several areas in which students must take courses (Breadth A-E)

               A. English, Critical Thinking, Communication (9 units)

               B. Science & Math (9-12 units)

               C. Arts & Humanities (9 units)

               D. Social & Behavioral Sciences; includes American Institutions & History (9 units)

               E. Lifelong Learning (3 units)


       – usually students are able to choose from multiple, generally unrelated, courses in each category



II. The term “integrative” has multiple meanings


       – should mean integrating across segments (e.g., CCC and CSU) and not just within institutional

               segment.  This could be accomplished with uniform evaluation of content across segments


       – can also think about integrative as operating within a college or across colleges.  Could also involve

               advising across colleges



III. Discussion of Current Practices or Reform Efforts


       – At Chico, GE is being reformed in terms of newly established values and GE goals.


       – At College of the Canyons, some current courses speak to LEAP outcomes (e.g., internships in the

               community), but don’t count for GE.  This is a problem.


       – Current funding patterns encourage inefficiency because based on enrollment, not completion of



       – Use current crisis to innovate because turf wars have been sharply curtailed due to enrollment

               limits & inability to accommodate all proposed  courses


IV. What would ideal GE look like?


       – If GE requirements involved smaller number of credits, could study required subjects in more



       – Would provide means of seamlessly including outcome-based courses in GE curriculum.  Title 5

               currently doesn’t allow outcomes-based learning.


       – Would allow broadly defined courses that could be counted across departments or categories (e.g.,

               American Institutions and Arts & Humanities).



V. Proposed GE Reforms


       A. Limit choices among disconnected courses: might develop clusters of courses addressing LEAP outcomes that cover all required  skills.  Might be articulated as course themes (e.g., sustainability) or pathways.  Would be packages of courses, all of which students take, once decide on a cluster or package.


               – might also maintain course choice at CSU system level and let people on each campus


               – combine clusters of related courses that form sequences, with students choosing a sequence

                      and taking the courses associated with it.


       B. Add coherence to curriculum by limiting available GE courses.  Coherence would be greater if courses no longer had to be department-based


               – Think beyond course/units to demonstrated performance.  This often reflected in classroom

                      experience, which leads to valuable learning, regardless of course content


       C. Revisit Title  5 and streamline


               – CSU systemwide Academic Senate recently studied Title V and decided to change in smaller ways (a CSU faculty survey indicated that most respondents did not favor radical change of Title V.  Some changes recently introduced through a new Executive Order to make Title V more outcomes-based


       D. Need to think about “portability” from campus to campus: would be e-portfolio that follows students around.  Could organize around different topics, audiences, or themes.  Contents would be agreed to or certified by the state.



VI. Summary of Session #1: Options for Others to Consider (shown on flip chart) 


       1. Integrated sequences of courses that fulfill all requirements


       2. Common core with limited choices


       3. Portable portfolios that covers agreed-upon outcomes


       4. Integration of GE into the major



Session #2: Implementation – Feasibility of Initial Proposals


I. Key Themes in Last Session:


       – Began with discussion of current requirements


       – Then moved on to discussion of various ways of changing current system:

               – define common themes or pathways that combine course clusters

               – organize GE about commonly defined goals

               – move beyond course/unit approach and emphasis on seat time

               – get rid of Title V or, at minimum, allow courses to be counted within more than one GE

                      category (A-E)



II. Definition of Tricky Terms


       A. Had trouble defining meaning of “Integrated” in first session


               – What is integrative GE package?: series of connected courses or a set of outcomes that can be



               – Not clear what integrative GE should accomplish


       B. Meaning of Transfer


               – AA degree has little meaning in California, but required in some other states


               – CCCs have own GE pattern for AA degree requirements


       C. Difference between competency and outcomes


               – competency=skill; subset of an outcome


               – outcome seems less restrictive a term than competency – outcome is means of showing a

                      learning outcome has been achieved



III. Views About Nature of Current System


       A. CCC-CSU Trust is conditional: if courses students complete approved by CSU in advance,

               CSU accepts CCC certification that all requirements met


       B. Current system doesn’t allow experimentation or introduction of high impact practices


               – No matter what do, will end up with a list of requirements


               – now some options not pursued because don’t count for CSU GE


               – capstone not feasible in current system because doesn’t fit into current breadth requirements


               – current system limits high impact experiences


            C. Current system can be bent to accommodate new approaches


               – current system has considerable flexibility in how to define transferrable GE units; not

                      exploited as fully as could be


               – CCCs have been creative in developing innovative courses and approaches that still meet CSU

                      GE requirements


               – could require capstone at CCCs, if also have at CSU – area E provides place for capstone


               – Current system, especially as recently amended,  permits incorporation of high impact

                      experiences into CCC GE curriculum



IV. Means of Building New Elements into Current CSU GE Requirements


       A. LEAP outcomes can be met by current GE requirements, but do not accommodate high impact

               practices very well


       B. Better approach: focus on tweaking current system to accommodate high impact and other

               innovative approaches (e.g., capstone in GE)


       C. If outcomes approach to work, need uniform assessment of outcomes


               – Requires moving beyond course and units;  if did, CCCs would have opportunity to participate

                      outcomes-based approach


               – high impact practices can also be accommodated in outcomes-based approach


               – portfolio allows demonstration of outcomes using high impact approach


       D. GE needs to make better sense to students


               – Might accomplish by making existing set of courses more clearly interconnected


               – May be able to enhance such integration within existing pattern


Session #3: Final Vision(s) of Outcomes-Based GE Program


I. Review of Issues Discussed in Previous Sessions (Group #4 and others)


       A. Assessment of E-Portfolios


               – Faculty workload issues a particular challenge here


               – Is evolving area and not clear at this point what best practices would be


               – shouldn’t allow assessment issue to incapacitate discussion


       B. Integrating GE into the Major


               – Would be hard for students that enter without a clear major objective


               – Need to distinguish between integrating GE and the major and isolating GE within the major



II. New Title V Executive Order on GE Not Well Understood


       A. Includes LEAP outcomes and is outcomes-based


               – Reliance on outcomes allowed, but not encouraged – is something that could be changed


              – Current GE requirements not broken for CSU, but are a challenge for CCCs


               – Represent a poorly understood hurdle for CCC students


       B. New Title V language has not been communicated to CCCs


               – Not clear to CCCs how current procedures can accommodate new outcomes language


               – Course series, for example,  can be approved


               – Need to consider how to allow more double-counting of courses (e.g., let them address more

                      than one outcome)


               – is more current flexibility in current system than CCC personnel think there is


       C. Discussion has revealed need for improved communication between CSU and CCCs


               – can do through GE Committee, which includes CCC reps


               – monthly meetings provide potential or regular interchange


       D. Need to develop policy allowing CCC students to be admitted to the CSU as upper division transfers as long as have completed all GE courses and lower division requirements for the major


               – may not have completed 60 units currently required


               – CSU staff will try to develop



III. Tinkering: Modest Changes in Existing System


       A. Greater CSU flexibility in meeting GE requirements (need to test out how would work in reality)


       B. Minimize disconnect between the GE courses required for the Associate Degree and the transfer GE program (considerable discussion about the appropriateness of such integration appropriate or whether necessary)


       C. Inform students of LEAP outcomes, especially at CCCs (e.g., change course descriptions in catalog) and add outcomes to course descriptions/syllabi


       D. Changes in Advising System


               – greater attention to LEAP outcomes and publicizing of them by CCC advisors (adequacy of


                      counseling staff varies across CCCs)


               – better coordination of CCC and CSU advising


               – develop tools to help students with decision-making that on dependent on large advising staff


               – develop better Web tools to measure student progress



IV. Big Changes in Existing System


       A. Move to outcomes-based requirements and away from unit-based requirements (would give

               more meaning to GE).


       B. Allow/build diverse pathways that link courses students need to meet GE outcomes.


       C. Modify conception of GE so that more applicable to 21st century requirements


       D. Restructure CSU GE pattern to encourage high impact practices (e.g., capstone, service learning)



V. Suggested Follow-Up Activities Subsequent to Current Meeting


       A. Reconvene segment of group to re-consider issues discussed in current sessions


       B. Include CCCs in CSU GE conference planned for May 2010.


       C. Feature discussion/reports of new outcomes-based approach to GE at AAC&U conference in San

               Francisco in 2011


       4. More collaboration between CCC articulation folk and the CSU through established channels



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