- Breadth of Knowledge
- Advanced Communication
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Global Diversity
- United States Diversity
- Past ES Courses
- Past General Ed Courses
The development of Essential Studies courses starts with individual faculty members and their departments. Faculty leadership in curriculum design and departmental “ownership” for courses are two key principles at UND. At the same time, the responsibility for the general education program belongs to all of us, working together. That’s why Essential Studies course proposals, changes, and assessments are faculty-initiated, and it’s why the oversight and approval process is in the hands of a campus-wide committee, under the jurisdiction of the University Senate.
Ways to Develop an ES course
New ES Course
Validated as a) an existing course that is being proposed as an addition to the ES program b) a new course at UND that was recently approved through the university curriculum procedure.
ES Course Change
A request to change an already-approved ES course so that it now meets a different ES requirement. Such a change is handled as a new validation.
A procedure for a course review and analysis of students’ learning that takes place on a 4-year cycle. The revalidation procedure is operated by the ES Committee.
ES Course Deletion
A request to drop a course from the ES program. Deletions are handled by simply notifying the ES Committee (departmental memorandum to committee).
How a Course Makes a Contribution to Essential Studies
When reviewing an Essential Studies course, the Committee looks at three critical elements in how the course is designed:
1. Clear Statement of ES Learning
The course’s ES Goal and, if applicable, the Special Emphasis (SE) requirement is clear, stated at the start-up, and restated during the term.
This is normally demonstrated in/by:
- Course syllabus.
- Instructor’s written and oral explanations about the course and its ES contribution. Note: In her Honors thesis research, in which she interviewed UND students about Essential Studies, Lisa Schock found that instructor’s specific ES reminders and explanations--about how the coursework was directly connected to the ES goal or SE—were key components for students and their learning (2011).
2. Learning Activities for ES
The coursework is specifically and intentionally designed to help students study/learn the ES Goal designated (and Special Emphasis if applicable).
This is usually demonstrated in/by, where "X"=selected course outcome:
- Specific assignments (e.g., essays, research papers, presentations, projects) and learning activities (e.g., small group discussions, informal writing, problem sets) that are designed to help students learn X.
- Repetition and practice—students get more than one opportunity to learn X. Two-to-three intentional ES learning activities is common.
- Opportunity for feedback—students receive advice and suggestions for improving their learning of X.
3. Direct Assessment of Students’ ES Learning
The department has a system in place that assesses how well students learn the outcomes associated with the ES Goal/Special Emphasis for which the course is validated.
This is typically demonstrated in/by, where "X"=selected course outcome:
- Assessment methods that are in use to see if students learned X and Y.
- Use of assessment tools–rubrics, separate scoring/grading, embedded questions on quiz/exam, analysis of student work “products” (paper, presentation)—that indicate what students are learning, as related to the ES outcome.
- Assessment results in which there is clear separation of ES-focused learning from disciplinary-focused learning.
- Explanation of the Department’s analysis process for conducting the ES assessment.
- Department’s report of the analysis and their future plans (“closing the loop”).
For more information and advice about instructional design, teaching techniques, and more, see the Office of Instructional Development.
For examples of innovative teaching practices at UND, many of which relate to teaching in Essential Studies, see Best Practices.