General Education Requirements Committee (GERC)

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GERC Chair's Announcements

Gen Ed Course Assessment Process

8 May 2017

Re: Gen Ed Assessment, next steps

Deans, Directors and Chairs:

On behalf of the General Education Requirements Committee (GERC), I thank you for your help in conducting Year One of the university's general education assessment effort. Our work has been proceeding according to the General Education Assessment plan. I would like to clarify some questions that have arisen as a result of last November's reporting process.

The plan also calls for a GERC-and-discipline-representatives' review of each of the general education program's nine Objectives every five years. In the coming academic year we expect to be reviewing Objective 1 Written Communication, and Objective 2 Oral Communication. If a department you represent teaches courses that fall within these Objectives, you should expect to be contacted about participating in this process.

You should be aware that access to the individual plans and relevant GERC comments will be improved over the summer, as will the GERC webpage, so the links below may change. Please feel free to contact me with any questions that you may have.

The Assessment plan can be seen at:

All approved course assessment plans can be seen for now at:


Sandi Shropshire
18/19 Chair, GERC


9 November 2016

Re: Gen Ed Course Assessment Reporting -- submission deadline extension

Dear Chairs, Deans, and Directors,

The first of the annual assessment reports for courses within the general education program were due Nov. 1. I want to thank everyone who has submitted reports and has otherwise assisted in the establishment and testing of this new process.

We've had indication of difficulties that some of you may have experienced in submitting the reports using the automated method that resides in BengalWeb, so GERC has extended the deadline for submission this year to Nov. 18, 2016.

It may be useful to bear the following in mind as you work with the report submission platform in BengalWeb:

Thank you very much,
Sandra Shropshire, Chair, GERC


27 October 2016

Re: General Education Course Assessment Plan status

Dear Chairs, Deans, and Directors,

I am writing to give you an update on the general education assessment process that is underway as of the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester.  As you may recall, departments are asked to submit the first reports in this annual process by Nov. 1, 2016.

Details about the general education program, the assessment plans and instructions for submitting the reports have previously been distributed by me or by last year’s GERC Chair, Andy Holland.  This information is located on the GERC website at

GERC plans to create a report of the outcomes of this process and will share the findings with you and with the Undergraduate Curriculum Council (UCC), our parent body.  We have been asked to share that report with the IEAC at its December 16, 2016 meeting.  As I understand it, our report will be used by this group to inform its work on ISU’s Mid-cycle Accreditation Report for the NWCCU

With appreciation for your support,
Sandi Shropshire, Chair, GERC

1 September 2016

Re: General Education Course Assessment Plan status

Dear Chairs, Deans, and Directors

I am writing to advise you of the status of GERC's work to establish an assessment process for ISU's general education program. The process is in place and is set to begin with the Fall 2016 semester. As step one in this process, departments offering general education courses are asked to respond to an online survey by November 1, 2016.

This survey, which is accessible through BengalWeb on the Institutional Research (IR) channel, is essentially a confirmation that assessment activities, as proposed in a department-generated and GERC-approved plan, have begun in Fall 2016. GERC requests one submission per general education course offered.

GERC continues to work with those departments whose plans were still in revision as of May 15, 2016 and/or whose plans were submitted subsequent to that date. We understand that changes in staffing may have occurred over the summer that would require a re-introduction to our work. Therefore, I have asked disciplinary representatives on GERC this semester to contact those departments in this category to resume the assessment plan approval process that GERC began in AY2015-16.

Addtional information on the general education process can be found on GERC's web page at and in past chair Andy Holland's May 31, 2016 memo, below.

Sandra Shropshire
GERC Chair 2016-17

May 31, 2016

Re: General Education Course Assessment -- next steps

I am writing with a year-end update on GERC's efforts to enact last year's plan for ongoing assessment of ISU's general education program. This year's tasks were to solicit and approve an individual course assessment plan for every general education course, and to lay the groundwork for annual reporting to begin in Fall 2016. GERC representatives have worked closely with chairs and instructors to develop plans that meaningfully assess the general education learning outcomes, and to date have approved plans for 84 courses. Another 30 plans remain in revision, but we are optimistic that they should be ready for implementation in August. The largest remaining gap in this project is a group of 11 History classes for which no plans have yet been submitted. GERC members have made every effort to reach out and remedy this situation, but next year the committee will have to consider appropriate actions with respect to courses that do not participate in the NWCCU-mandated assessment program. A spreadsheet summarizing the status of all general eductaion course assessment plans is attached.

November 1st will be the first deadline for annual reporting of general education assessment activities, and GERC has worked with Institutional Research to set up what we hope will be a relatively painless online survey through which departments can affirm that assessment activities are taking place as planned. (The form is accessed from the IR channel on BengalWeb.) One of GERC's guiding principles throughout this process has been that the real value of assessment activities lies in the discussion and choices that happen within departments, and the committee does not intend to scrutinize reports beyond confirming that assessment is taking place. We also understand that many departments were still finalizing their plans this year and won't have much to report, but we will still ask for reports from all general education courses just to acquaint everyone with the process and expectations going forward. More comprehensive review of assessment data is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2019.

We've reminded chairs and plan authors of the status of their plans and distributed instructions for Fall 2016's reporting, and both incoming GERC Chair Sandi Shropshire and I will be available to take questions over the summer. We sincerely thank everyone involved in this project for their patience and hard work, and look forward to making this process as smooth and productive as possible going forward.

Andy Holland
GERC Chair 2015-16


December 17, 2015

Re: Gen Ed Assessment Activities in Spring 2016

Dear Chairs, Deans, Directors, and Assessment Plan Authors,

Thank you for all your hard work this fall drafting assessment plans for ISU's general education courses. So far GERC has approved 60 plans, and most of the remaining 80 are only a tweak or two away from fully satisfying the criteria laid out by our general education assessment program. We know that a mammoth amount of effort has gone into this process already, and I'm sure that I speak for everyone on GERC in sharing my sincere appreciation for the patience with which colleagues have humored our requests for clarifications and revisions. GERC will continue to work directly with authors in order to approve remaining plans in January.

In order to satisfy the requirements imposed by NWCCU, we ask that departments please begin to implement these plans, to whatever extent that is feasible, this spring. Given the short turnaround from planning to action we don't expect departments to collect comprehensive assessment data by next fall, but we hope that even a partial roll out of these plans will enable everyone to work the kinks out in preparation to run full gen ed assessment programs in 2016-2017. GERC will be asking for brief progress reports in Fall 2016, and laying out the format of that report is on our spring agenda, but we have realistic expectations for the scope and detail of the assessment activities that are possible in various departments across campus this spring.

One question that has come up repeatedly this fall is how student work and other assessment materials should be retained to comply with accreditor expectations and FERPA regulations. At GERC's request, the Office of Academic Affairs has issued a memo clarifying appropriate practices in this regard, and this document is attached for your information. We hope that as other questions and concerns arise, you will stay in touch with GERC either through me or through your unit's representative. Please let us know if there are any steps we can take to facilitate this process as it moves forward.

Thanks again and best wishes for the holidays,

Andy Holland
GERC Chair


May 11, 2015

Re: General Education Assessment

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last year, the General Education Requirements Committee (GERC) has crafted a plan for the assessment of ISU’s general education courses and program. This activity is required both by the SBOE and by the NWCCU, which highlighted deficient general education assessment as an area of primary concern in its recent accreditation report. This spring GERC representatives reached out to their respective units to collect input on a draft plan, and we thank all the participants in those meetings for their thoughtful hearing and comments. Some suggestions have already been incorporated into the current plan, and more feedback will guide our continuing efforts to refine the program’s later stages. For now, the current version of the plan has been approved by Academic Affairs, and we will begin to implement it this fall.

So: GERC humbly requests that departments submit course assessment plans for all general education courses by October 1, 2015. (Please submit electronically as either a Microsoft Word file or as a Google Doc to, with the subject line: Gen Ed Assessment Plan for [course+number]).  We intend to review and approve these plans by the end of the fall, to ask departments to enact them in Spring 2016, and to start collecting basic reporting on assessment activities in Fall 2016. These and later stages in the full program are outlined in the attached plan, in which a rudimentary template for course assessment plans is included as Appendix II.

We would like a separate plan for each general education course, and each one should do the following:

Some learning outcomes and course formats are easier to assess than others, and we anticipate that this process may identify challenges such as learning outcomes that could be simplified without compromising the spirit of their intent. Although GERC has no authority to independently change the learning outcomes of the state-defined GEM categories (Objectives 1-6), we welcome productive suggestions submitted alongside departments’ best efforts to assess the current learning outcomes.

GERC will review submissions and work with departments to make sure satisfactory course assessment plans are in place for implementation in Spring 2016. During that term, as departments begin (or continue) the business of general education assessment, GERC’s primary task  will be to develop an efficient reporting system for these activities, and I hope we will be in touch a year from now with details on inaugurating that process in Fall 2016.

We recognize that the assessment expectations of the NWCCU and SBOE impose a lot of work on busy people, and GERC's highest priority is to meet our accreditation obligations with a program that respects faculty expertise in assessing their own courses. Accordingly, our guiding principle in crafting this plan has been to preserve the primary authority for general education course assessment in departments, with the hope that many can essentially continue or expand current assessment procedures with minimal disruption. Please feel free to contact me or your unit's GERC representative with any questions or suggestions.


Andy Holland
Incoming Chair, General Education Requirements Committee (GERC)

SBOE-Mandated changes to statewide General Education Program:

15 May 2014

Re: GERC's General Education Course Audit Findings

Dear Deans, Directors and Chairs,

With apologies for a month's delay in this update while waiting for final word from the SBOE, I write now with official word on the new statewide General Education Policy and Competency Guidelines, and what this means for your General Education courses:

  1. The SBOE has met to finalize the new statewide General Education Policy and GEM Competency Guidelines.

  2. General Education Requirements Committee (GERC) members have also finalized our comparison of ISU's Objectives 1 - 6, and the courses currently proposed/approved to fulfill them, with the new statewide competency guidelines. The results of this "audit" can be found in the list of Objective 1 - 6 courses which we have identified as needing revised proposals or addenda showing how they fit the new guidelines.

  3. If your Objective 1 - 6 course is not on the "audit list," that means GERC was able to see from its currently-approved proposal how the course meets the new guidelines. Those courses remain approved for General Eduation with no revision required.

  4. If your Objective 1 - 6 course is on the "audit list," you will also see there a note about how the proposal for that course needs to be revised, in whole or in part, in order to show how it meets the current compenency guidelines for the Objective. Reviewing these revised proposals and/or addenda will comprise the bulk of GERC's work when we resume business in fall semester. You may submit revised proposals earlier, but no later than 19 September 2014 to ensure our timely review and approval for the next catalog deadline.

  5. GERC will also continue to accept and review any new course proposals for Objectives 7 - 9, which haven't changed, and new course proposals for Objectives 1 - 6, following the new guidelines, on an ongoing basis.

I have attached the SBOE's "III.N. General Education Policy" document to the email I sent out, which includes the new Competency Guidelines for Objectives 1 - 6, so that you and yor faculty course proposal writers might have all needed documents in one place. GERC's website is also the 'one place' where you should find all needed documents and information. In the meantime, I hope you will also feel free to to consult with your college's GERC representative or me if you have further questions. Catherine Read, our able Administrative Assistant, will also remain a valuable resource for process and logistics questions. She can be reached at or ext. 4956.

I also hope you wil share with your faculty members our thanks for their dedication to providing the quality of ISU's general education program, and to articulating that quality in their proposals.

Wishing you all a good summer,

Cathy Peppers
Chair, GERC

14 March 2014

RE: Further word from your General Education Requirements Committee (GERC) on revised course proposals for General Education:

Dear Deans, Directors and Chairs,

A status update on where we are in the process of bringing ISU's current General Education Objectives into alignment with the the SBOE task force ones, and what it means for your General Education courses:

GERC members are about midway through the process of comparing the drafts of the new SBOE competency guidelines for Objectives 1 - 6 to our current ISU ones, and our currently-approved courses. We anticipate finishing this work next week, before Spring Break.

  1. These comparisons will allow GERC to identify which currently-approved course proposals for Objectives 1 - 6 will need to be revised, in whole or in part, and resubmitted to show how the courses meet the new learning outcomes. Although we continue to be told that the drafts of the new guidelines we are working with are not likely to change substantively, GERC will only be able to notify you officially about which course proposals will need to be revised and resubmitted, along with a timeline, after the SBOE meets to approve the new competency guidelines, which we are still being told will take place sometime in April.

  2. In the meantime, if you are concerned about any of your department's Objective 1 - 6 courses, you may contact your colleges' GERC representatives after our next GERC meeting on 18 March to get a sense of which courses are likely to require revision, which not.

  3. The SBOE task forces are not revising ISU's Objectives 7 - 9 (Critical Thinking, Information Literacy, and Cultural Diversity). Submission of revised proposals for Objective 7 - 9 courses that GERC remanded last semester by Friday, 21 March will ensure that we can review and respond to them in April, before the bulk of our work will return to Objective 1 - 6 courses. GERC will also continue to accept and review any new proposals for Objectives 7 - 9 courses on an ongoing basis.

I hope this answers the questions you are likely to have about what's going on with our General Education program in light of the SBOE's new state-wide competency guidelines. Please also feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Collegially yours,

Cathy Peppers
Chair, GERC


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