- Administration of the General Education Requirements
- Implementation Reports
- Trends and Analysis
University Academic Planning Council
The University Academic Planning Council is a committee of the faculty established by FP&P 6.52; chief among its functions is to serve as the primary academic council for the institution, advising the Chancellor and Provost on major program decisions, university-wide academic matters, academic priorities, etc. Following a lengthy period of study that culminated in Senate approval of the UW-Madison General Education Requirements, on November 21, 1996 the University Academic Planning Council (UAPC) assigned the overall academic administration of the campus-wide program to the College of Letters & Science, which would serve as a trustee acting on behalf of all schools and colleges. The College of Letters & Science formed a General Education Committee to serve as an advisory body for this purpose, and over the years, the committee’s responsibilities have shifted from issues related to implementation and technical administration to providing general academic oversight for the mature program.
Today, Dr. Elaine M. Klein (firstname.lastname@example.org), L&S Associate Dean of Academic Planning, chairs the University General Education Committee and coordinates General Education efforts for the campus. The College submits an annual report to the University Academic Planning Council describing work related to administering the requirements and highlighting any issues of interest or concern, including proposals to revise or amend the requirements. The University Academic Planning Council must approve any General Education policy issues proposed by the committee. Proposals or studies to revise General Education are overseen by the committee, in close communication with the UAPC throughout the period of study.
In 1994, the 1993-94 Faculty Committee on Undergraduate Education submitted a report on the General Education Requirements to the Faculty Senate. The committee had found that, with the exception of the ethnic studies requirement, UW-Madison had no campus-wide requirements; further, across schools and colleges, there was considerable variation in requirements for basic instruction. As a result, it was feared that some students were graduating without competency in important skill areas. In comparison to the substantial general education requirements of peer universities, the committee considered UW-Madison’s requirements “meager.” A survey of faculty opinion found considerable support for general education requirements, prompting the committee to propose a number of recommendations that have since become the current UW-Madison General Education Requirements.
- For the committee’s summary report, see UW-Madison Faculty Document 1065a – 15 March 1994; Modified – 7 October 1996.
- The committee’s lengthy initial report (Document 1065, appendix, adopted May 2, 1994), is available; however, the version cited above includes revisions that render it out of date.
The committee’s work, its approval by the Senate, and the continued active engagement of the faculty in the administration of General Education arises from Wisconsin State Statute and faculty Policies and procedures. Per Wis. Stats. 36.09(4), “The faculty of each institution, subject to the responsibilities and powers of the board, the president and the chancellor of such institution, shall be vested with responsibility for the immediate governance of such institution and shall actively participate in institutional policy development. As such, the faculty shall have the primary responsibility for academic and educational activities and faculty personnel matters. The faculty of each institution shall have the right to determine their own faculty organizational structure and to select representatives to participate in institutional governance.”
Responsibility for creating, implementing, evaluating and revising the General Education Requirements rests upon the shoulders of the faculty, through the university’s system of governance.
Policies and Regulation Affecting General Education:
UW Board of Regents General Education Policy
The UW System Board of Regents has not endorsed a standard set of General Education Requirements for UW System institutions; instead, the colleges and universities in the system are able to articulate their own requirements, as befits the mission and level of each institution. The UW System has endorsed a set of shared learning goals, consistent with learning goals articulated by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. UW-Madison has adopted these Essential Learning Outcomes as well.
UW Board of Regents General Education Transfer Policies
Policies of the Board of Regents address General Education Requirements as they are affected when students transfer between UW System institutions or from the Wisconsin Technical College System.
- UW System Undergraduate Transfer Policy, BOR Section 7 Policy 1, (formerly 84-3)
- “University of Wisconsin System Undergraduate Transfer Policy,” UW System Administrative Policy 135 (formerly ACIS 6.0)
- UW System Universal Credit Transfer Agreement (UCTA)
The UW System Undergraduate Transfer Policy articulates the principles of transfer admission, which includes the evaluation of the quality and comparability of student coursework, and the applicability of that coursework to the receiving institution’s degree requirements, which include University General Education.
UWSA Administrative Policy 135, section C, addresses specifically the circumstances for students entering with an Associate Degree awarded by another UW institution, and how such credentials relate to satisfaction of General Education “Breadth” or “Distribution” Requirements at receiving institutions. Students with these degrees may still be required to complete second-level GER and/or courses that serve as prerequisites for further study.
The UW System Universal Credit Transfer Agreement policy governs the guaranteed transfer of up to 30 credits from the Wisconsin Technical College System, and enumerates specific courses at UW-Madison that may be equated in transfer to similar WTCS courses; this list of courses was developed with the intention that these courses will satisfy General Education Comm-A, QR-A, and Breadth requirements.
UW System and UW-Madison transfer policies listed above are implemented by the UW-Madison Office of Transfer Admissions.
Accreditation, Assessment and General Education
The Federal Higher Education Act requires that institutions receiving federal funding be evaluated periodically to ensure that they meet high standards of excellence in educating their students. Failure to meet these standards not only leads to the loss of federal funding, but it has an equally negative effect on institutional rankings and many certification programs. The authority to evaluate UW-Madison is delegated to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The HLC Criteria for Accreditation that address the expectation that institutions provide a high quality education, and that the “institution demonstrates that the exercise of intellectual inquiry and the acquisition, application, and integration of broad learning and skills are integral to its educational programs.” This is expressed in the expectation that HLC institutions have general education programs appropriate to their missions. Accredited institutions are required to have programs for assessing student learning. This requirement is reinforced by the UW System Board of Regent Section 5, Policy 1 on Academic Quality Program Assessment. Faculty, instructors, and departments who are interested in the assessment of student learning can find information about UW-Madison’s Assessment Program on the “Inside Assessment” website sponsored by the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
UW-Madison’s program in General Education (and in particular, the Communication, Ethnic Studies, and Quantitative Reasoning requirements) have a long record of being assessed in various ways. Activities include administrative studies of student course-taking patterns, syllabus review and curriculum alignment, standardized testing, and examination of artifacts of student learning. The University General Education Committee has articulated learning outcomes for the four domains of General Education, and has an ongoing plan for assessment of learning relative to the requirements. For more information about assessment and General Education at UW-Madison, please refer to our page on General Education Assessment.
Questions regarding the university’s accreditation may be sent to:
Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604-1413
Fax: (312) 263-7462
STUDENT LEARNING IN GENERAL EDUCATION
ASSESSMENT OF THE UW-MADISON UNDERGRADUATE GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS
Since 2003, the University General Education Committee (UGEC) has used a formally adopted long-range Assessment Plan to guide campus-level efforts to understand the impact and efficacy of the General Education Requirements. That assessment plan is reviewed annually, when the UGEC submits each year’s proposal for assessment funding to support specific projects to be pursued within that long-range plan. The funding request may also include requests to support other projects related to general education as new needs are identified.
The 2008 General Education Assessment Plan is noteworthy for two reasons: it provides a comprehensive history of undergraduate general education as practiced at UW-Madison, and it looks ahead to the future of the program which draws explicit connections between the requirements and the “Essential Learning Outcomes” articulated in the AAC&U project, “Liberal Education and America’s Promise”.
In 2015-16, the UGEC updated the General Education Assessment plan to align it with the campus-wide assessment plan template. The new 2015-2016 General Education Assessment Plan proposes strategies for assessment that are ongoing rather than episodic, and which are meant to be sustainable. As part of the request for funding, the UGEC submits an annual activity report to the University Assessment Council, the Committee also submits an annual report to the University Academic Planning Council. The UAPC is charged by the Faculty Senate as responsible for oversight for the committee’s work; any requests to alter the requirements or impose changes in General Education policies are submitted to the UAPC. Such changes arise most frequently in response to assessment efforts, and as a result, the UAPC maintains an interest in the assessment of student learning in the program. General Education Reports to the University Academic Planning Council contain assessment information, and are located in the Implementation Reports tab.
IMPLEMENTATION: UNIVERSITY GENERAL EDUCATION COMMITTEE (UGEC) MEMBERSHIP AND BUSINESS
The College of Letters and Science serves as the trustee charged with overseeing the implementation and administration of the university-wide General Education Requirements (GER) all UW-Madison undergraduates must complete. The University General Education Committee is an L&S committee with campus-wide membership appointed by the Dean of L&S; the committee reports to the University Academic Planning Council (UAPC), and has authority to recommend GER policy changes to the UAPC. The committee considers and advised the university concerning issues relevant to university-wide general education.
The UGEC is made up of term members and ex officio members. Members of the faculty, professional advising staff, and two students serve as the rotating members. Faculty and staff members serve three-year terms; students have one-year appointments. The ex officio members are drawn from key areas across the university and are selected by virtue of their programs’ contributions to the General Education Curriculum. These members include the liaisons for administering the Communication and Quantitative Reasoning requirements, and Director of such entities as the Writing Center and the Writing Across the Curriculum program; the Cross-College Advising Service; Orientation and New Student Services; the Library and Information Literacy Instruction Program; the First-year Interest Group program; and UGEC Assessment. The Associate Vice Chancellor for Teaching and Learning and an assistant to the Provost also serve on the Council.
The business of the committee in recent years has included a number of topics related to the academic administration of the requirements:
- consult with the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning on topics such as The Wisconsin Experience, integration of new assessment tools, and emergency policies related to GER;
assessment of student learning in courses that meet the University General Education Requirements;
improved communication strategies about the requirements among internal groups (students, faculty, staff);
improved communication with external groups, including key transfer institutions, parents, and high school counselors;
implementation of a new administrative structure for the Ethnic Studies Requirement; and
discussion of the role of liberal education (as achieved divisional breadth and skill requirements) in the university, state and nation. (For more information about this national discussion, please consult the American Association of Colleges and University’s site, Liberal Education: America’s Promise.)
The Provost may refer new questions to the committee at any time. The University General Education Committee typically meets two to three times per semester on the second Friday of the month.
Dr. Elaine M. Klein, L&S Associate Dean of Academic Planning and Director of General Education, chairs the committee. Please contact Dr. Klein (email@example.com) if you have questions about this committee’s work.
The University General Education Committee (UGEC) generates an annual report to the University Academic Planning Council (UAPC) for accountability purposes. PDF copies of the reports are located below.
Please note: UAPC actions on policy items have been noted in the reports. Changes reported to and accepted by the UAPC have been incorporated into the materials on this site.
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2020-21)
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2019-20)
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2018-2019)
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2017-2018)
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2016-2017, includes period from previous report, as well as curricular calibration assessment exercises for ESR and Comm B)
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2014-2015, includes request to approve General Education learning outcomes in the four domains of GER)
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2013-2014)
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2012-2013)
- Followup on 2012-2013 Report (from discussion at UPAC May 2013)
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2011-2012)
- UAPC Action: Approved changes to language describing Comm A Information Literacy Outcomes.
*Reports dated on or before 2010 can be found at the bottom of this page.
To see individual assessment reports and summaries, visit our Assessment Reports page.
GENERAL EDUCATION TRENDS AND ANALYSIS
GENERAL EDUCATION ANALYSES
A representative from Academic Planning and Institutional Research (APIR) serves as a member of the campus-wide Undergraduate General Education Committee (UGEC) that reports to the University Academic Planning Council. UGEC conducts assessment activities related to student learning in the five general education competency requirements (Communications A and B, Quantitative Reasoning A and B, Ethnic Studies). APIR works with the UGEC to analyze patterns and trends in how students progress through these general education competencies.
- Enrollment Trends in QRB Courses
- Ethnic Studies Course taking Patterns (2017)
- Quantitative Reasoning Course Combinations (September 2015)
- General Education Curricular Trends (April 2015)
- English as a Second Language Instruction (November 2013)
- Ethnic Studies Satisfaction (March 2011)
- Comm A and Comm B Satisfaction (May 2010)
Additional reports on curricular trends can be found on the APIR site, at: https://apir.wisc.edu/students/enrollment/
GENERAL EDUCATION COURSES COMPLETED BY BACHELOR’S RECIPIENTS
APIR also makes available a visualization of UW-Madison courses completed by bachelor’s degree recipients, which can be filtered on major, student attributes, and course attributes. See: UW-Madison Courses Completed by Bachelor’s Recipients. To use this tool to view data on General Education courses, in the “Select Course Attribute” pulldown menu, choose one of the following Course Attributes:
- Communication Part A
- Communication Part B
- Ethnic Studies
- Quantitative Reasoning Part A
- Quantitative Reasoning Part B
This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.
Implementation Reports: Annual Reports dated 1997-2010
This list includes previous years’ UGEC annual reports. For specific questions related to the reports, please reach out to Dr. Elaine Klein (firstname.lastname@example.org), Chair of the University General Education Committee.
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2010-2011)
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (Covering Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010), March 24, 2011
- Spring 2011 Update, May 31, 2011 (presented to UAPC June 20, 2011)
- UAPC Action: Approval of campus-wide policy that only courses taken on a graded basis may be used to satisfy the General Education Requirements (Quantitative Reasoning, Communications, and Ethnic Studies requirements), effective Fall 2012.
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2008-2009), October 29, 2009
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2007-2008), September 30, 2008
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2006-2007), June 21, 2007
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2005-2006), May 18, 2006 (UAPC approval of report and action items)
- Powerpoint Presentation: Special report on Assessment in General Education, April 20, 2006
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (Sem II 2003-2004, AY 2004-2005), April 21, 2005(includes Final report of the Ethnic Studies Implementation Committee, and the UAPC’s approval of that report and the ESIC’s decisions)
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (Sem II 2001-2002, AY 2002-2003, Sem I 2003-2004), April 15, 2004
- Follow-up Report to UAPC, June 26, 2003, regarding assessment of Communication B
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 2000-2001), December 19, 2002
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 1999-2000), January 18, 2001
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 1998-1999), December 16, 1999
- Annual Report on the General Education Requirements (AY 1997-1998), November 19, 1998
- Progress Report in Implementing the General Education Requirements (AY 1996-1997) December 18, 1997
In the past, UGEC also generated annual reports to the University Assessment Council on its current and recently completed assessment projects, below. Now, assessment of student learning is addressed in the above reports to the UAPC.