Biological and Physical Sciences Disciplines

Charge to Maryland Intersegmental CAO Academic Discipline Groups


The Maryland Intersegmental Chief Academic Officers are forming individual academic discipline groups to evaluate general education courses. The purpose of this evaluation is to establish definitional criteria, course competencies, and student outcomes for the general education courses to coincide with the requirements of the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the recommendations of the Maryland Intersegmental Chief Academic Officers regarding general education areas.

The following charge has been provided to guide the individual academic discipline groups in completing this important task. In light of the Code of Maryland Regulations requirement that all general education courses must be accepted in transfer by a receiving institution, the work of the discipline groups will enable that general education courses accepted in transfer will meet similar basic standards, outcomes, and goals, without dictating any standard curriculum for any course.



  1. Review 1) the Maryland Intersegmental CAO recommendations regarding the components defining the appropriate area of general education and the required student outcomes for the Area Group in General Education for your academic discipline; 2) COMAR 13B.06.01.03 General Education Requirements for Public Institutions; and 3) the entire COMAR 13B.06 General Education and Transfer for General Education.
  2. Establish the relationship of the general education courses for the academic discipline to the Area Group in General Education competencies established by the Maryland Intersegmental CAO Group.
  3. Establish a core definition for the academic discipline's general education and recommend core course components for the academic discipline's general education courses that relate to the Area Group in General Education competencies.
  4. Identify the expected student outcomes for the academic discipline and develop potential methods of measuring student general education competencies.
  5. Share individual institutions' general education courses for the academic discipline and discuss how these traditional general education courses meet the competencies outline and how these courses met the Area Group in General Education competencies.
  6. Address alternate means of meeting the academic discipline's general education courses through these alternate means (including CLEP, AP, institution developed tests, other)
  7. Review the content standards for Teacher Education and address the content needs of teacher education and their representation in the discipline's general education. (Must supply the Content Standards for Teacher Education)
  8. Status Report to the Maryland Intersegmental CAO Group by May 2002.
  9. Final Report to the Maryland Intersegmental CAO Group by December 2002.


Revised Recommendation of the Biological and Physical Sciences Area Group

Within the context of general education and the general education program as defined in the regulations, COMAR 13B.06.01.02 Definitions:

(5) "Biological and physical sciences" means courses that examine living systems and the physical universe. They introduce students to the variety of methods used to collect, interpret, and apply scientific data, and to an understanding of the relationship between scientific theory and application.

(7) "General education" means the foundation of the higher education curriculum providing a coherent intellectual experience for all students.

(8) "General education program" means a program that is designed to:

(a) Introduce undergraduates to the fundamental knowledge, skills, and values that are essential to the study of academic disciplines;

(b) Encourage the pursuit of life-long learning; and

(c) Foster the development of educated members of the community of the world.

I. The major goal of general education courses in biological and physical sciences is to actively involve the student in the process of science. The important objectives are for students:

    1. To achieve scientific literacy including proficiency in evaluating reports on science, discriminating among sources, and presenting the concept of peer review;
    2. To discriminate science from non-science and to demonstrate that science constitutes the testing of hypotheses about natural phenomena through observation;
    3. To know how to access specific scientific information on a topic;
    4. To attain familiarity with some of the tools of science and to have opportunities to use technology to gather and process data;
    5. To acquire proficiency in the quantitative aspects of science, with an appreciation of the role of variability in the quantitative evaluation of data; and
    6. To demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental concepts of the discipline(s).

II. A general education science laboratory course must provide some experimental activities that include direct experience with real phenomena, use of technology, and the collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data.







COMAR 13B.06.01.03

.03 General Education Requirements for Public Institutions.

A. While public institutions have the autonomy to design their general education program to meet their unique needs and mission, that program shall conform to the definitions and common standards in this chapter. A public institution shall satisfy the general education requirement by:

(1) Requiring each program leading to the A.A. or A.S. degree to include not less than 30 and not more than 36 semester hours, and each baccalaureate degree program to include not less than 40 and not more than 46 semester hours of required core courses, with the core requiring, at a minimum, course work in each of the following five areas:

      1. Arts and humanities,
      2. (b) Social and behavioral sciences,

      3. Biological and physical sciences,

(d) Mathematics, and

(e) English composition; or

(2) Conforming with COMAR 13B.02.02.16D(2)(b)-----(c).

B. Each core course used to satisfy the distribution requirements of 你(1) of this regulation shall carry at least 3 semester hours.

C. General education programs of public institutions shall require at least:

(1) One course in each of two disciplines in arts and humanities;

(2) One course in each of two disciplines in social and behavioral sciences;

(3) Two science courses, at least one of which shall be a laboratory course;

(4) One course in mathematics at or above the level of college algebra; and

(5) One course in English composition.

D. Interdisciplinary and Emerging Issues.

(1) In addition to the five required areas in 你 of this regulation, a public institution may include up to 8 semester hours in a sixth category that addresses emerging issues that institutions have identified as essential to a full program of general education for their students. These courses may:

(a) Be integrated into other general education courses or may be presented as separate courses; and

(b) Include courses that:

(i) Provide an interdisciplinary examination of issues across the five areas, or

(ii) Address other categories of knowledge, skills, and values that lie outside of the five areas.

(2) Public institutions may not include the courses in this section in a general education program unless they provide academic content and rigor equivalent to the areas in 你(1) of this regulation.

E. General education programs leading to the A.A.S. degree shall include at least 20 semester hours from the same course list designated by the sending institution for the A.A. and A.S. degrees. The A.A.S. degree shall include at least one 3-semester-hour course from each of the five areas listed in 你(1) of this regulation.

F. A course in a discipline listed in more than one of the areas of general education may be applied only to one area of general education.

G. A public institution may allow a speech communication or foreign language course to be part of the arts and humanities category.

H. Composition and literature courses may be placed in the arts and humanities area if literature is included as part of the content of the course.

I. Public institutions may not include physical education skills courses as part of the general education requirements.

J. General education courses shall reflect current scholarship in the discipline and provide reference to theoretical frameworks and methods of inquiry appropriate to academic disciplines.

K. Courses that are theoretical may include applications, but all applications courses shall include theoretical components if they are to be included as meeting general education requirements.

L. Public institutions may incorporate knowledge and skills involving the use of quantitative data, effective writing, information retrieval, and information literacy when possible in the general education program.

M. Notwithstanding 你(1) of this regulation, a public 4-year institution may require 48 semester hours of required core courses if courses upon which the institution's curriculum is based carry 4 semester hours.

N. Public institutions shall develop systems to ensure that courses approved for inclusion on the list of general education courses are designed and assessed to comply with the requirements of this chapter.