UTSA revamps Core Curriculum to promote student success

August 1, 2023
Academic Strategic Communications
UTSA revamps Core Curriculum to promote student success

As part of its ongoing efforts to enhance student success, UTSA Undergraduate Studies—a division of Academic Affairs—established the Core Refresh Working Group last fall to evaluate and enhance the university’s General Education (Core) Curriculum and ensure that this foundational set of coursework is meeting the needs of today’s students.

Although each individual course in the core curriculum goes through a formal review process at least once every four years, the working group examined the overarching structure and content of the curriculum, with the goal of better linking the core to students’ major coursework and career readiness.

The working group reported their recommendations to the provost and the university’s Core Curriculum Committee in May.

“As the higher education landscape and workforce needs continue to change, we are actively working to make sure that our core curriculum is also evolving to keep pace with these changes,” said Heather Shipley, UTSA interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “The core teaches our students fundamental, widely applicable skills, and looking at how we can refresh the curriculum will ensure that the knowledge gained in these courses remains relevant to both their education and their lives post-graduation.”

The Core Refresh Working Group consisted of 25 members from across the university to encourage diverse and varied input. Membership included faculty from each academic college—with an emphasis on those who teach core courses—as well as two student representatives. Administrators from the Office of Inclusive Excellence, Academic Innovation, Career-Engaged Learning, Student Success, Student Affairs, University Technology Services, and Institutional Research were also included in the group.

The working group looked at UTSA’s existing core curriculum and degree pathways, and surveyed core requirements at other Texas public universities as part of their review process.

Among their suggestions for improvement were creating an identity and theme for the core that will reflect UTSA’s mission, history and location. The theme will also allow students to engage with the core throughout their entire time at UTSA, helping them make connections across their core courses and their broader student experience.

The core refresh will also be supported by a new core curriculum infrastructure, which will provide guidance and resources for course development, promote consistency across the curriculum and measure student outcomes in core courses. 

“Ultimately, the core refresh will help students see the value that the core curriculum brings to their overall educational experience, rather than simply viewing it as a list of requirements needed to graduate,” said Mark Appleford, associate vice provost of undergraduate studies and chair of the working group. “Every public university in Texas is required to have this curriculum, but we want to distinguish ourselves by creating a core curriculum experience that is unique to UTSA.”  

The Core Curriculum Committee will begin implementing the working group’s recommendations in fall 2023. The working group’s full report can be viewed here. 

The core curriculum is a 42-semester-credit-hour program that must be completed by all undergraduate students at Texas public colleges. It is designed to help students of all backgrounds develop a broad and marketable skillset—including communication, teamwork, and critical and analytical thinking—and lays the foundation for students to become responsible community members who are successful in their education, lives and careers.