Section 2: SACS Core Requirement
The institution offers a general education program at the college level that is (1) a substantial component of each undergraduate degree, (2) ensures breadth of knowledge, and (3) is based on a coherent rationale. For degree completion in associate programs, the component constitutes a minimum of 15 semester hours. Credit hours are to be drawn from and include at least one course from each of the following areas: humanities/fine arts; social/behavioral sciences; and natural science/mathematics. The courses do not narrowly focus on those skills, techniques, and procedures specific to a particular occupation or profession. If an institution uses a unit other than semester credit hours, it provides an explanation for the equivalency. The institution also provides a justification if it allows for fewer than the required number of semester credit hours or its equivalent unit of general education courses. (General Education)
The Mission Statement of Western Texas College notes that the College “ . . . is committed to educational excellence as it challenges students to reach their full potential in developing critical thinking skills, communication proficiency, appreciation of arts and culture, and an understanding of their roles and responsibilities in a democratic society.” In its degree programs, the College includes components that carry out its mission. The College offers the Associate of Arts degree, the Associate of Arts in Teaching degree, and the Associate of Applied Science degree.
The Associate of Arts degree and the Associate of Arts in Teaching degree include the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) mandated Core Curriculum Requirements of 42 to 48 hours of required general education courses which must be successfully completed in order to earn a two-year associate’s degree. The core curriculum requirements incorporate six basic intellectual competencies (reading, writing, speaking, listening, critical thinking, and computer literacy), along with exemplary educational objectives for five different disciplinary areas (communication, mathematics, natural sciences, humanities and visual and performing arts, social and behavioral sciences). A full description of the core competencies is listed in the Lower-Division Academic Course Guide Manual, Appendix E. Instructors teaching a general education course state in their course syllabi (LINK: sample course syllabus) the basic intellectual competencies, exemplary educational objectives, and student learning outcomes that the instructor expects the student to have acquired upon completion of the course.
The WTC core curriculum consists of 9 hours of communication (6 hours of English and 3 hours of speech), 3 hours of mathematics, 8 hours of natural sciences, 3 hours of visual or performing arts, 3 hours of humanities, 15 hours of social/behavioral sciences, 3 hours of computer science, and 2 hours of health/physical education. Western Texas College requires 46 hours of core curriculum courses in order for a student to receive an Associate of Arts degree or Associate of Arts in Teaching degree. Specific courses for each core area are listed in the Western Texas College Catalog 2006-2007, pp. 60-66. The College is also committed to providing the courses of the core curriculum to inmate students in the four prison units of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice served by WTC. (LINK to TDCJ Windham School District Contract.: PDF)
All Associate of Applied Science degrees at Western Texas College require a minimum of 15 semester hours of general education courses chosen from the core curriculum to include at least one course in humanities/fine arts, one course in social/behavioral sciences, and one course in natural sciences/mathematics. In addition, all A.A.S. degrees have a three-hour computer science requirement.
As is reported in the review of Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1, the THECB required each community college to begin an extensive evaluation of its core curriculum in 2001 and will require another evaluation in 2009. Following a two-year study, the College reported its evaluation to the THECB in September 2003 in a report titled “Western Texas College Core Curriculum Evaluation Report.” At the same time the study was being done, the College also sought to standardize its faculty evaluation methods, which resulted in adoption of the Individual Development and Educational Assessment (IDEA) student ratings survey, developed by Kansas State University as a key means of evaluating instruction. The rationale for reliance on the IDEA system is discussed in detail in the Western Texas College Core Curriculum Evaluation Report, pp. 20-24.As is stipulated in Chapter 8 of the Guidelines to Instructional Programs in Workforce Education, the THECB requires that an Institutional Effectiveness evaluation of workforce education programs must be conducted every four years. The last such evaluation (LINK to desk review) was conducted by the THECB in 2004, and the next review will be conducted by December 31, 2007.
Evidence of Support:Desk Review of Workforce Programs
Guidelines for Instructional Programs in Workforce Education, Chapter 8
Lower-Division Academic Course Guide Manual
Western Texas College Catalog 2006-2007
Western Texas College Core Curriculum Evaluation Report