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Working Group 7: General Education and Related Educational Activities

Standard 12: General Education
The institutionís curricula are designed so that students acquire and demonstrate college-level proficiency in general education and essential skills, including at least oral and written communication, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical analysis and reasoning, and technological competency.

Fundamental Elements of General Education
An accredited institution offering undergraduate degrees and some graduate institutions are expected to possess or demonstrate the following attributes or activities:

  • a program of general education of sufficient scope to enhance studentsí intellectual growth, and equivalent to at least 15 semester hours for associate degree programs and 30 semester hours for baccalaureate programs; (An institution also may demonstrate how an alternative approach fulfills the intent of this fundamental element.)
  • a program of general education where the skills and abilities developed in general education are applied in the major or concentration;
  • consistent with institutional mission, a program of general education that incorporates study of values, ethics, and diverse perspectives;
  • institutional requirements assuring that, upon degree completion, students are proficient in oral and written communication, scientific and quantitative reasoning, and technological competency appropriate to the discipline;
  • general education requirements clearly and accurately described in official publications of the institution; and
  • assessment of general education outcomes within the institutionís overall plan for assessing student learning, and evidence that such assessment results are utilized for curricular improvement.

Standard 13: Related Educational Activities
The institutionís programs or activities that are characterized by particular content, focus, location, mode of delivery, or sponsorship meet appropriate standards.

1.†Basic Skills

Fundamental Elements of Basic Skills
An accredited institution is expected to possess or demonstrate the following attributes or activities:

  • systematic procedures for identifying students who are not fully prepared for college level study;
  • provision of or referral to relevant courses and support services for admitted under-prepared students; and
  • remedial or pre-collegiate level courses that do not carry academic degree credit.

2.†Prior Experiential Learning

Fundamental Elements of Experiential Learning
An accredited institution is expected to possess or demonstrate the following attributes or activities:

  • credit awarded for experiential learning that is supported by evidence in the form of an evaluation of the level, quality and quantity of that learning;
  • published and implemented policies and procedures defining the methods by which prior learning can be evaluated and the level and amount of credit available by evaluation;
  • published and implemented policies and procedures regarding the award of credit for prior learning that define the acceptance of such credit based on the institutionís curricula and standards;
  • published and implemented procedures regarding the recording of evaluated prior learning by the awarding institution;
  • credit awarded appropriate to the subject and the degree context into which it is accepted; and
  • evaluators of experiential learning who are knowledgeable about the subject matter and about the institutionís criteria for the granting of college credit.

3.† Certificate Programs

Fundamental Elements of Certificate Programs
An accredited institution is expected to possess or demonstrate the following attributes or activities:

  • certificate programs, consistent with institutional mission, that have clearly articulated program goals, objectives and expectations of student learning and that are designed, approved, administered, and periodically evaluated under established institutional procedures;
  • published program objectives, requirements, and curricular sequence;
  • program learning goals consistent with national criteria, as appropriate;
  • available and effective student support services; and
  • if courses completed within a certificate program are applicable to a degree program offered by the institution, academic oversight assures the
    comparability and appropriate transferability of such courses.

4.† Non-Credit Programs

Fundamental Elements of Non-credit Offerings
An accredited institution is expected to possess or demonstrate the following attributes or activities:

  • non-credit offerings consistent with institutional mission and goals;
  • clearly articulated program or course goals, objectives, and expectations of student learning that are designed, approved, administered, and periodically evaluated under established institutional procedures;
  • academic oversight assures the comparability and appropriate transferability of such courses, if courses completed within a non-credit or certificate program are applicable to a degree program offered by the institution; and
  • periodic assessment of the impact of non-credit programs on the institutionís resources (human, fiscal, physical, etc.) and its ability to fulfill its institutional mission and goals.

5.† Branch Campuses, Additional Locations, and Other Instructional Sites

Fundamental Elements of Branches, Additional Locations, and Other Instructional Sites
An accredited institution is expected to possess or demonstrate the following attributes or activities:

  • offerings at branch campuses, additional locations, and other instructional sites (including study abroad locations and programs offered at business/corporate sites) that meet standards for quality of instruction, academic rigor, and educational effectiveness comparable to those of other institutional offerings;
  • activities and offerings at other locations meet all appropriate standards, including those related to learning outcomes;
  • adequate and appropriate support services; and
  • periodic assessment of the impact of branch campuses, additional locations, and other instructional sites on the institutionís resources (human, fiscal, physical, etc.) and its ability to fulfill its institutional mission and goals.

6.† Distance and Distributed Learning

Fundamental Elements of†Distance or Distributed Learning
An accredited institution is expected to possess or demonstrate the following attributes or activities:

  • distance learning offerings (including those offered via accelerated or self-paced time formats) that meet institution-wide standards for quality of instruction, articulated expectations of student learning, academic rigor, and educational effectiveness. If the institution provides parallel on-site offerings, the same institution-wide standards should apply to both;
  • consistency of the offerings via distance learning with the institutionís mission and goals, and the rationale for the distance learning delivery;
  • planning that includes consideration of applicable legal and regulatory requirements;
  • demonstrated program coherence, including stated program learning outcomes appropriate to the rigor and breadth of the degree or certificate awarded;
  • demonstrated commitment to continuation of offerings for a period sufficient to enable admitted students to complete the degree or certificate in a publicized time frame;
  • assurance that arrangements with consortial partners or contractors do not compromise the integrity of the institution or of the educational offerings;
  • validation by faculty of any course materials or technology-based resources developed outside the institution;
  • available, accessible, and adequate learning resources (such as a library or other information resources) appropriate to the offerings at a distance;
  • an ongoing program of appropriate orientation, training, and support for faculty participating in electronically delivered offerings;
  • adequate technical and physical plant facilities, including appropriate staffing and technical assistance, to support electronic offerings; and
  • periodic assessment of the impact of distance learning on the institutionís resources (human, fiscal, physical, etc.) and its ability to fulfill its institutional mission and goals.
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