This proposal addresses the problem of creating clear intentionality and curricular coherence for students as they move among institutions within a state system. Existing statewide general education requirements and articulation agreements speak vaguely, if at all, to the intentions of requirements. Thus a course offered at, for example, a community college may have very different intentions from those of the requirement it will satisfy at an institution to which the student transfers. Given the prevalence of student transfer and the growing use of individual distance learning courses in fulfilling degree requirements, the states will need to assume more responsibility for the integrity of degrees and the definition of their purposes if students are to have a sense of the purposes of their education and why certain courses are required of them.
State systems in Georgia and Utah have been working successfully to define intended purposes for existing statewide general education requirements. They will be joined in this project by a group representing the chief academic officers of two- and four-year institutions in Maryland to engage faculty members on all public campuses (34 in Georgia, 9 in Utah, 35 in Maryland) in discussion of the intended outcomes and attuning their courses to these intentions. The states will continue work on strategies to determine whether these outcomes are being achieved and to develop inter-institutional advising structures and written materials to help students understand the intentions and plan their programs within them.
AAC&U will coordinate communications among the states and provide leadership in establishing a national discussion of curricular coherence and intentionality at the state level. This discussion will be conducted through conferences of state-level academic officers along with state system board members and state legislators; through a "study group" made up of teams from states making specific efforts to address the issues; and through a series of publications addressed to state system staff, students, and legislators.
This project is viewed as a dissemination effort in which work already completed at the state level is simultaneously communicated to faculty and students throughout the public higher education system and to a national audience. That national audience both learns from and provides feedback to the work in progress in the participating states.