Core for Faculty and Staff

How Core Was Built


Xavier University

Fall 2015

In spring 2009 the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) recommended that Xavier assess the undergraduate core curriculum. In fall 2010, seventeen faculty members on the Pilot Core Curriculum Committee (PCCC) began this assessment process, but concluded that the tools of assessment then in place were inadequate, and that a revised core with a clearer set of goals and learning outcomes was warranted.

In spring 2012 Xavier Faculty approved a provisional set of 34 student learning objectives (SLOs) and reconstituted the PCCC as the nine-member (three faculty from each college) Core Curriculum Assessment Committee (CCAC), which began to collect evidence and artifacts regarding the 34 SLOs. Some valuable insights were gained, including the need for oral communication and quantitative literacy requirements in the core, but in the end the 34 SLOs proved too vague and too numerous for an effective overall assessment of the core.

In search of a more constructive means of assessment aimed more explicitly toward the development of a new core, in October 2012 Faculty Committee organized nine faculty members (three from each college) into the Ad Hoc Core Curriculum Learning Outcomes Committee (CCLOC). Faculty Committee charged the CCLOC "with leading the a conversation concerning the underpinnings and outcomes of a new core curriculum." Through spring and summer 2013 the CCLOC held numerous open forums, discussions, and surveys.

In September 2013, 84% of the Xavier Faculty voted in favor of six Goals and twelve SLOs, all of which revolved around the six Jesuit values of magis, reflection, discernment, cura personalis, kinship and solidarity, and service rooted in justice in love. These goals and SLOs served as the foundation for creating a new undergraduate core curriculum.

Xavier Faculty next elected three members from each college to constitute a new and permanent Core Curriculum Committee (CCC). Faculty Committee charged the CCC "to revise the University Undergraduate Core incorporating feedback from the 2013 Faculty Retreat, the CCLOC, and the CCAC."As the CCC began this work, the CCAC continued the assessment process.

During fall 2013, the CCC hosted multiple discussions, including seven Listening Sessions held at various dates and times, and open to the entire Xavier community. Detailed notes from these sessions were posted on the Nexus web site, which was available for all faculty to read. The CCC also invited informal conversation and asynchronous communication through Nexus.

Using this input, as well as information gathered from other Jesuit and benchmark schools, during a Faculty Assembly held on February 17, 2014, CCC presented Six Options for a New Undergraduate Core Curriculum. Over the next three weeks Xavier Faculty commented on these options through Open Forums, an on-line survey (completed by one hundred twelve faculty members), and informal conversation. Two-hundred eighty-nine students and alumni, and sixty administrators and staff also offered feedback through separate on-line surveys. During a Faculty Assembly held on March 17, 2014 the CCC discussed the results (both objective data and subjective comments) from the surveys. Quantitative data was posted on Nexus.

Building upon areas representing emerging consensus in the surveys, and aided by additional input from various university departments, the CCC refined the Six Options down to Two Options. Reflecting emerging consensus from the surveys, the CCC also developed ideas (which largely were presented as suggestions in the surveys) around Three Components that could be added to either Option: (1) First-Year Seminar, (2) First-Year Co-Curricular Passport Program, and (3) January Term.

During two Faculty Forums, April 4 and April 7, 2014 CCC presented the Two Options and Three Components to the Faculty. Faculty Committee then coordinated a vote by the entire Xavier Faculty in May 2014, which resulted in 87% of faculty voting in favor of one of the options, 82% supporting the development of the First-Year Seminar, 68% in favor of conducting more research to investigate the possibility of implementing a J-term, and 57% in favor of creating a First-Year Passport Program. Shortly thereafter the Xavier Board of Trustees unanimously approved all the decisions of the faculty.

Xavier Faculty and Staff worked out further details of the New Core through the 2014-2015 Academic Year. Through faculty workshops and in departmental activity faculty developed courses and programs, including the First-Year Seminar. A committee of faculty and staff also met periodically to discuss the possibility of a J-term, and in May 2015 submitted a report for the faculty to consider in the 2015-2016 Academic Year. And more faculty and staff developed the First-Year Passport Program into what was named GOA, Xavier's First-Year Co-Curricular Program.

The new core went into effect for incoming First-Year Students in the fall 2015 semester. Upper division students already enrolled at Xavier must complete a modified version of the new core, called the Transition Core, which was approved by the Board of Undergraduate Studies, or BUGS. Various accommodations also were instituted for transfer students.

During the 2015-2016 Academic Year the CCC will work on core matters that need to be ready for the fall 2016 semester, including the creation of new flagged courses (Oral Communication, Writing Intensive, and Quantitative Literacy) and Perspective courses. The CCC will coordinate university-wide discussions concerning the Language Requirement and Study Abroad or Immersive Experiences (two issues that need more resolution before implementation). And the CCC will continue to coordinate efforts to make the new core more inviting for transfer students.

By reducing the core requirements from approximately 72 to 48 credit hours, the new core invites students to explore more electives, add new majors and minors, and take advantage of Xavier's numerous immersive experiences, both local and abroad. Throughout 2015-2016 the CCC will work with various university partners to encourage students to take advantage of these opportunities. As the CCC engages in this work, the CCAC will continue to monitor the success of the new core through various means of assessment. The CCC has recommended to Faculty Committee the adoption of a formal mechanism that will allow for continual evolution of the core.

C. Walker Gollar, CCC Chair

August 26, 2015