Key Steps in the Redesign Process

GE Program Review, April 2014-March 2015

According to Assessment at UC Merced: “Program review at UC Merced is intended to ensure students are learning what the faculty intends to teach, that a program's educational efforts are appropriate to a diverse student body, and that the benefits of scholarly inquiry inform educational processes and outcomes. In design, program review is intended to be both formative, in that it shapes the actions of a program in its ongoing development, and summative, in that it identifies particular issues and problems that may need to be addressed and identifies actions required to address such issues and problems.” The review of General Education (GE) was designed to achieve these purposes.

GE Self-Study

Academic program review of General Education was launched in spring 2014 as the General Education Subcommittee (GESC) began a self-study. UCM’s policy on review of undergraduate academic programs states that the purpose of a program self-study is “to facilitate the program’s development of a shared understanding of its present circumstances and direction and communicate that understanding to PROC, to the external review team, and to campus stakeholders and leadership. The self-study also initiates the program’s strategic planning in regards to the review, connecting the program’s long term planning to its institutional context (Undergraduate Program Review, page 11).”

The GESC conducted an analysis of the GE Program, that included information gathered from the 2014 GE Retreat, student and faculty surveys, and other forms of assessment. Interviews with school curriculum committees and by-law units provided valuable information about faculty perceptions and expectations of GE at UC Merced. The GE Self-Study was completed in January 2015 in advance of the site visit of the External Review Team.

Faculty-Staff Retreat May 2014

As part of the process of developing the GE self-study and preparing for the GE Program review, the GESC organized a campus retreat to envision the framework of a revised general education program, including defining the hallmarks of baccalaureate degrees from UC Merced. Creating a GE Program appropriate for UC Merced undergraduates requires having a clear, shared understanding of campus expectations for our baccalaureate degrees in general. In August 2014, a summary of the GE Retreat 2014 was provided to participating faculty and staff members.

Hallmarks of the UCM Baccalaureate Degree, AY 2014-2015

During AY 2014-2015, the GESC distributed a draft copy of the Hallmarks of the UCM Baccalaureate Degree to faculty members in all three schools for the purposes of obtaining feedback about the draft. Faculty were asked to consider the extent to which the Hallmarks, as proposed, were consistent with their understandings of the goals, purposes, and intended outcomes of baccalaureate degrees at UCM. After this process, a final version of the Hallmarks was shared with, and endorsed by, Undergraduate Council.

At the conclusion of these activities, the creation and adoption of the Hallmarks of the Baccalaureate Degree served as a foundation for the proposal of a new General Education Program at UC Merced.

GE External Review

In February 2015, an external team visited campus.

The review team was composed of national experts on General Education and their task was to conduct an independent evidence-based assessment of GE at UCM, including areas of strength, challenges, areas for improvement, and future plans and directions. To make this assessment, the review team drew upon the self-study, as well as interviews during the site visit and their knowledge of research, scholarship, and national trends regarding general education. The external review team spent two days on campus and interviewed faculty (Senate and non-Senate from all three schools), staff members (e.g., academic advisors, assessment coordinators), and students about their experiences with, assessment of, and recommendations for GE at UCM

Responding to UC Merced’s self-study and information gathered from the site visit, the review team produced its report, “UC Merced General Education Academic Program Review: Report of the Review Team,” in March 2015 (see External Review). 

Key recommendations in the review team’s report were:

(1) significant reconsideration of content and delivery for a new GE Program. This program would be comprehensive, providing a curriculum and experiences for all UCM undergraduates, regardless of major, across all four years of enrollment. Therefore, GE at UCM would be a broadly inclusive and coherent academic program, rather than a collection of course requirements that differ by major and by school;

(2) a GE Program that is reflective of our campus context as a small research university located in the Central Valley with an undergraduate student body unique in the UC;

(3) structures for allocating appropriate resources and incentives to engage Senate faculty in the oversight and delivery of the GE Program;

(4) creation of a clear mission and goals for GE at UC Merced, program learning outcomes to achieve those goals, and a plan for assessment of student learning in the GE Program.

General Education Mission and Outcomes, June 2015-March 2016

To begin the process of responding to, and acting on, the recommendations of the external review team, the GESC conducted a second faculty-staff retreat, summarized in GE Retreat 2015. This retreat was devoted to developing (1) guiding principles and a mission for a GE Program at UC Merced and (2) program learning outcomes aligned with that mission. The GESC completed a draft of the mission and outcomes in Fall 2015 and, in February 2016, these documents were provided to faculty and staff for commentary and feedback. A final version of the Mission and Program Learning Outcomes, based on the feedback received, was completed in March, 2016.

General Education Program Redesign, September 2015 to Present

Proposal Development

The Hallmarks and the GE mission and program learning outcomes served as the framework for drafting a new curriculum for GE at UC Merced. In Fall 2015, the GESC formulated an action plan for GE redesign, including a program proposal template. The Template and Action Plan were submitted to Undergraduate Council and the Periodic Review Oversight Committee via memo November 19, 2015. Both PROC and UGC approved plan.

Throughout AY 2015-2016, the GESC worked on multiple drafts of a proposed redesign of the UCM GE Program. In addition, a subcommittee of the GESC worked on a plan for resources for the new program. Although the draft redesign was not to be determined by resources, resources would be essential to implementing the final program.

Proposal Review

On June 24, 2016, the GESC’s draft curriculum proposal was circulated to UGC, Deans Council, and all participants from the May 2014 and June 2015 GE retreats. The recipients of the draft have been asked to consider the proposal in light of the Hallmarks, the mission of GE at UC Merced, and the GE Program learning outcomes, and comment on the alignment of the draft with these important documents.

At the start of AY 2016-2017, the GESC will continue the process of obtaining feedback about the draft proposal for the redesigned GE Program. Extensive opportunities, both in-person and electronic, for comments and suggestions will be offered to the campus community, including faculty, staff, and students. The GESC will incorporate feedback into a final proposal for a new GE Program for UC Merced, which can be viewed at Final GE Proposal 04-27-17.

The GESC anticipates finalizing an implementation plan for the new GE Program in 2017, with the intent of full implementation of the program in fall 2018.

The General Education Subcommittee can be contacted at ge@ucmerced.edu.