New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Creating Better Science General Education Courses through a Comprehensive Curricular Redesign

Mojgan Behmand, Dominican University of California (United States)

Amy Young, Dominican University of California (United States)

Kenneth Frost, Dominican University of California (United States)


The higher education landscape is changing rapidly in in the United States, requiring educators to respond to external and internal pressures. This presentation documents the multi-year process of re-aligning curricula across the University to create a cohesive and coherent educational experience for students that is outcomes-based and measurable. The General Education (GE) curriculum was the perfect place to start the University’s move towards effective and distinctive programming as it crosses all school and departmental barriers, is the foundation of all curricula, and allows for cross-disciplinary, collaborative efforts. In this university-wide realignment, all elements of existing curricula were examined and redesigned, foregoing isolated approaches in favor of integrating skills such as writing, quantitative reasoning, and oral communication holistically in a scaffolded manner. Through this process we redesigned the Science curriculum in the GE program; it now meaningfully aligns with the University’s mission and institutional learning outcomes. The faculty considered recent trends in GE curricular design which included outcomes-based course design. This approach ensures that learning outcomes shape the course content and that competencies are taught through assignments aligned with the outcomes. The missions, values, and traditions of the University were used as a design framework for curricula that met the diverse needs of a 21st century demographic. This approach values preparation for both immediate career goals as well as lifelong learning and wellbeing. Thus, faculty adopted learning outcomes to expand the traditional scope of science GE courses; these now  include the application of disciplines to illustrate connections among science, technology, and society. Furthermore, all aspects of the curricula were designed to address diversity in terms of issues related to difference (such as race, culture, gender, class, sexuality, etc.) and to ensure that course assignments and evaluative criteria are equity based, which had not previously been addressed in curricular expectations. As universities nationally and worldwide struggle to reinvent themselves in challenging political and economic times, the takeaways from our recent self-evaluation and subsequent redesigns are topical and timely.

Keywords: Curricular Redesign, General Education, Science and Society;

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