Guidelines for a Well-Written Core Course Proposal

Since UTSA has moved to a two-year course catalog cycle, we now review proposals for new Core Courses every other year. The online proposal system is open beginning February 1 until April 1 at 11:59 p.m on odd-numbered years preceding the catalog year. For example, the portal for the 2022-2024 catalog would open February 1, 2021. The proposal review process timeline can be viewed here.

To submit a proposal, log in to the online proposal portal using your abc123 log-in and passphrase.

NOTE: Rubrics used by the Core Curriculum Committee to evaluate proposals are available for your perusal on this website.

Suggestions for Preparing a Quality Core Course Proposal

There are three proposal elements, (1) the online proposal form; (2) the syllabus; and (3) the course assessment plan. These elements are not separate, independent pieces but rather parts that are linked to one another. A quality proposal is one that provides a clear, thorough overview of the course and how it meets the state-mandated core curriculum requirements and objectives. To facilitate proposal development, each element of the proposal packet is addressed below. 

Online Proposal Form

The online proposal form should provide an overview/context for the course and reflect the purpose of the UTSA Core Curriculum. The proposal form is your opportunity to introduce the course and explain how it will meet each of the requirements for its targeted component.  Briefly explain how the course meets the required intent of the component area, as defined by the state. Be careful not to simply reword the definitions provided by the state.  Rather, tailor your descriptions to reflect both the course’s content and its fit for the component. That information should then be connected to and expanded in the syllabus.

Finally, you will have an opportunity to convey any additional information that may be relevant to the Core Curriculum Committee (CCC) in reviewing the proposal. You should be prepared to upload two pdf documents:

  1. Syllabus
  2. Assessment Plan

Core Course Proposal Syllabus

The primary purpose of this syllabus is to describe the course to the CCC. It is important to clearly explain in the syllabus not only the course content but also how each of the new state requirements and objectives are addressed in the course. Thus, the content of this syllabus may be slightly different from the one given to students in class. This document should be a composite syllabus that includes common information for all sections of the course, not one that describes one particular section. Although individual teachers may use different texts and focus on a range of illustrative examples, there should be common elements and outcomes across all sections of a core course. These common elements should be reflected in the composite syllabus.

Think of the syllabus as the “glue” that holds your entire proposal packet together. It is your opportunity to describe the content of the course and expand on the information provided in the online proposal. The syllabus should demonstrate how the course fits the core component’s requirements and objectives across sample topics, texts, assignments, and weekly/daily schedule. The first question the CCC will address is, “Does the course meet the component requirements?” The syllabus requirements should clearly answer this question.

In addition, the syllabus should also reflect assessment methods described in the assessment plan. That is, if the assessment plan notes a learning outcome involving oral presentations, those oral presentations must be visible in the syllabus.

What needs to be included:

    • Course title
    • Required text(s) and/or readings
    • Course learning outcomes
    • Detailed description of:
      • Assignments & Projects:
        • Clearly and thoroughly describe what students are expected to do.
        • Clearly explain which state-required core curriculum objective(s) (manifested in learning outcomes) are addressed by each assignment/project. (Note: Every assignment does not have to address a core objective BUT every core objective must be addressed.)
      • Exams & Quizzes:
        • Are they objective &/or subjective in nature?
        • How many exams and quizzes will be given, and what material will each cover?
        • Are any state objectives addressed on the exams? If so, which one(s)?
      • Grading
        • State what percent of the overall grade is accounted for by each assignment, exam, etc.
      • Weekly Class Schedule: For each week of the term, what topic is studied? What is the reading assignment?

What does not need to be included:

      • Roadrunner Creed
      • Common information required of all syllabi as outlined on this page, e.g.: TRC, Disabled Student Disability Services, etc.
      • Specific class policies, e.g.: regarding cell phones, make-up exams, etc.

Of course, these policies and resources would be included on a syllabus given to students but these are not issues of concern to the CCC.

Assessment Plan

A formal core-course assessment is no longer required to be submitted to the Provost’s office. However, each core course should include a clear assessment plan that will help departments determine how students are performing on each of the state-required core objectives. Thus, it is important to develop a clear, feasible assessment plan that is directly linked to the syllabus. Each of the three sections of the plan is discussed briefly below: (1) Student Learning Outcomes, (2) Artifact/Instrument, and (3) Criterion for Success.

1. STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES should be identified in the syllabus and be both observable and measurable. A learning outcome is a statement explaining what the student will learn from the course and its assignments. It is not an explanation of the assignment itself (which is described on the syllabus). Each learning outcome should contain an action verb that implies cognition and states specifically what the student will do. You may choose to adopt or modify the UTSA Roadrunner Learning Outcomes for the Core Curriculum into your proposal.

Note that in the definitions of each state learning objective, “and” means “and.” Thus, in the case of the communication skills objective for example, students must exercise oral and written and visual communication skills.

“Students will solve problems that require them to generate assumptions, estimate numerical values based on the assumptions, then critique the appropriateness of their answers.”


      1. “The student will deliver an effective oral presentation to the class.”
      2. “The student will interpret data presented in a chart and graph.”
      3. “Students will be able to produce a clearly written paper about the role of the public voice (political behavior and civic engagement) in maintaining our democratic form of government.”

2. The ARTIFACT/INSTRUMENT should match the student learning outcomes and be identified in the syllabus. Using the sample Communication Skills learning outcome 1 above, one would expect to see an oral presentation assignment on the syllabus and/or schedule. That same assignment may also require students to present data in visual form and explain it to the class (outcome #2). An appropriate Artifact/Instrument for an oral presentation or written paper is a rubric. A few sample criteria for a rubric used to assess a presentation that addresses oral and visual communication skills should be listed on the assessment plan, e.g.: eye contact during presentation; clear and accurate visual representation of data; clear and accurate explanation of data.

Embedded exam questions could be an appropriate assessment method for the Critical Thinking learning outcome (above). Include 1 or 2 sample problems that students would be required to solve on an exam.

No course is required to use all or most of its assignments as a way of assessing course outcomes.

3. The CRITERION FOR SUCCESS is your statement regarding the expected level of student performance. How good is good enough? The entire grade of an exam or assignment should not be used as an assessment criterion.