Goals and Attributes

GE CLAS Core courses provide a broad foundation of contextual knowledge and a focused practice of transferable skills necessary for a lifetime of learning. The program consciously articulates the learning process, the value of this learning, and the modes of inquiry, tools, and methods associated with particular areas of study.

Core courses are numbered below 3000 and particularly serve students making the transition into the University of Iowa, helping students to understand the expectations of the College while providing the tools needed for more advanced academic work.

Faculty teaching a CLAS Core course are especially aware of the difficulties that students might have when adjusting to the expectations and life of a rigorous academic community. Instructors in the program thus help to connect students to resources and pay special attention to teaching students how to learn as well as what to learn. Core courses especially focus on skills and the incremental development of skills by starting with simpler concepts and assignments to help the student reach the complexity of deep learning which includes its application and integration with other knowledge.

The faculty members of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are responsible for defining the General Education CLAS Core Program. The General Education Curriculum Committee and the Undergraduate Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee oversee the review and approval of specific courses and policies of the program.

Goals

  • GE courses articulate the values of a liberal arts and sciences education, introducing the student to a breadth of knowledge.
  • GE courses point the student to important questions, issues and problems, revealing why and how the course and its content are relevant.
  • GE courses offer the student a deeper insight into the student’s own skills, knowledge, values, perceptions, including biases and cultural differences, and challenge the student to grow.
  • GE courses show the student how “to learn how to learn,” defining academic excellence, while giving students the opportunity to practice skills that make such learning possible.
  • GE courses connect the student with resources, offices, and events, helping students to navigate the University in ways specific to the course and its goals.
  • Whenever possible, research conducted by the instructor is integrated into the course to highlight the dual mission of the College and how those function together.

Attributes

CLAS Core courses share organizational and pedagogical attributes that help define the essence of the program. These support the student's transition to UI and challenge students to become engaged, motivated learners.

All CLAS Core courses do the following:

  • Assume no prior student knowledge in the course content.
  • Build from simple and/or informal assignments to more complex and/or formal ones, giving the student the opportunity to develop and master skills that are needed for achieving academic excellence and success in the course.
  • Give early and frequent evaluation of student work, helping to define and motivate students to achieve academic success.
  • Provide models and/or rubrics to define academic expectations so that students understand the standards of the course and the student’s own performance in relation to these standards.
  • Use a variety of teaching and assessment strategies throughout the semester to better engage students in their own learning and in order to reach the wide range of students with various needs in the course.
  • Integrate the instructor’s research within the course when feasible, reflecting the dual mission of the College while helping the students to understand the tools of inquiry as these tools operate in “real life.”
  • Encourage students to learn from each other whenever possible, particularly through large and small group discussions, student organized study groups, and by the use of peer mentors, supplemental instruction, writing fellows, and creative activities that engage students, thus widening the process for students “learning how to learn.”
  • Use technology as a supplemental tool to support engaged learning when feasible, encouraging students to pursue a topic or a skill in more depth outside the classroom.
  • Discuss academic integrity from the position of community obligation, trust, and learning while also reminding students of the consequences for academic misconduct.