2.7.3 General Education

In each undergraduate degree program, the institution requires the successful completion of a general education component at the collegiate level that (1) is 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 or the equivalent; for baccalaureate programs, a minimum of 30 semester hours or the equivalent. These 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.


JUDGMENT: Compliant


Substantial Component of Program

In order to earn the Associate of Arts, Associate of Arts Teaching, or the Associate of Science Degree from SWTJC, a student must successfully complete a 42-semester hour General Education Core Curriculum. This core curriculum comprises eight Foundation Component areas identified and required by Texas Statute (Texas Administrative Code Title 19, Part 1, Chapter 4, Subchapter B,Rule 4.28). Two core component “Options” are also required but are optional only in that colleges are allowed considerable leeway in designating which courses may be offered to fulfill them. Degree requirements for the A.A., A.A.T., and A.S. degrees are presented in the SWTJC Catalog on pages 108 - 110.

In order to earn the Associate of Applied Science Degree from SWTJC, a student must successfully complete a minimum of 15 semester hours of General Education chosen from approved courses. In some Applied Science Degree Plans, students have General Education courses prescribed for them; others are chosen by the student with assistance from Academic Advisors.


Based on Coherent Rationale

In 2009, the Texas Undergraduate Education Advisory Committee (UEAC) released the report “Designing Texas Undergraduate Education in the 21st Century.” This report, commissioned by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, recommends that the State and its colleges and universities: “Reconsider the Texas Core Curriculum to ensure that it reflects current and future demands on student knowledge and skills” (p. 12). At the time of the report’s publication, the Texas general education core had been last revised in 1999.

After a two-year State-wide study, in April of 2011 the UEAC presented the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board with “Revising the State Core Curriculum: A focus on 21st century competencies." This report offered the following set of recommendations relative to revision of the State collegiate Core Curriculum:

  • Purpose of the Core Curriculum – Recommend a new purpose statement;
  • Six Core Curriculum Objectives – Recommend that the current Basic Intellectual
  • Competencies, Perspectives, and Exemplary Educational Objectives be replaced with six Core Objectives: Communication Skills, Critical Thinking Skills, Empirical and Quantitative Skills, Teamwork, Social Responsibility, and Personal Responsibility;
  • Foundational Component Areas – Recommend eight content-related component areas and an institutional option that define subject matter content for the Core Curriculum;
  • Core Objective Mapping – Recommend required and optional Core Objectives to be addressed in each Foundational Component Area;
  • Allocation of Semester Credit Hours (SCH) by Component Area – Recommend a distribution of SCH across the Foundational Component Areas of the Core Curriculum to ensure breadth of knowledge;
  • Assessment of each institution’s Core Curriculum, and the reporting mechanisms required in legislation; and
  • Development and approval timeline and guidelines for revised institutional Core Curricula. (pp. 1-2)

These recommendations were subsequently approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and adopted as policy by the Texas Legislature. Southwest Texas Junior College has fully adopted this policy, as evidenced by SWTJC Policy EFAA (Legal).

Guided by the approved policy and is parameters, SWTJC ‘s General Education Committee conducted a series of meetings over several months in 2013 which garnered input from Faculty, Staff, and Administration regarding appropriate courses for each Foundation Component, and regarding which courses should be offered for the two Core Component Optional Areas.

After achieving consensus, the General Education Committee made its recommendation to the College’s Curriculum Committee, SWTJC’s governing body for all curricular decisions. Once approved by the Curriculum Committee, the recommended core curriculum was presented to the President’s Cabinet, which approved it, as did SWTJC’s Board of Trustees. SWTJC’s proposed General Education course choices were then sent to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for approval.  SWTJC received that approval on January 17, 2014 and implemented the new Core beginning Fall, 2014.

A further aspect of the core curriculum’s coherency is reflected in its transferability. A student completing the SWTJC core curriculum is able to transfer it entirely to any other Texas public college or university, where it must be accepted as fulfilling the receiving institution’s core curriculum.


Evaluation of General Education Core

Yet another feature contributing to the core curriculum’s coherent structure is its evaluation by SWTJC. The Texas Legislature established Core Objectives by which all core courses must be evaluated. These Core Objectives figured substantially in the courses chosen for SWTJC’s core, since Faculty teaching those courses are committed to the evaluation criteria and processes. The Core Objectives are:

    Critical Thinking Skills                                  Communication Skills
     Empirical & Quantitative Skills                    Teamwork
     Personal Responsibility                               Social Responsibility

By statute (Rule 4.28), all courses offered in SWTJC’s General Education Core must be evaluated on the Objectives of Critical Thinking Skills and Communication Skills. The College’s Assessment Committee decided which additional Core Objectives should apply to given courses; the Committee also established interventions and assessment procedures for all Core Objectives. All faculty teaching Core courses have met to design interventions and artifacts to assess the Core Objectives.  Two semi-annual Assessment Summits are held (January and June) where instructors of core courses evaluate student artifacts and submit results to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.  A matrix showing all SWTJC General Education Core courses and the Core Objectives against which they will be assessed has been established.


Breadth of Knowledge

SWTJC’s 42-semester-hour General Education Core Curriculum is outlined below. Bold headings indicate the Foundation Components prescribed by the Texas Legislature. Those Foundation Components reflect the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s definition of the core curriculum as “… the curriculum in liberal arts, humanities, and sciences and political, social, and cultural history that all undergraduate students of an institution of higher education are required to complete before receiving an academic undergraduate degree.”

Southwest Texas Junior College utilizes only the semester credit hour to award credit.

Communication (Six semester hours)
ENGL 1301 (Freshman Composition I) and ENGL 1302 (Freshman Composition II)

Mathematics (Three semester hours)

MATH 1314 (College Algebra), Math 1324 (Business Math I), Math 1332 (Contemporary Math), or MATH 1342 (Statistics)

Life/Physical Sciences (Six semester hours)

BIOL 1306 (General Biol 1 for Science Majors); BIOL 1307 (General Biol 2 for Science Majors); BIOL 1308 (General Biol 1 for Non-Science Majors); BIOL 1309 (General Biol 2 for Non-Science Majors); CHEM 1311 (General Chem 1); CHEM 1312 (General Chem 2); PHYS 1301 (College Physics 1); PHYS 1302 (College Physics 2); PHYS 2325 (University Physics 1); PHYS 2326 (University Physics 2)

Language, Philosophy, and Culture (Three semester hours)

ENGL 2322 (British Lit 1); ENGL 2323 (British Lit 2); ENGL 2327 (American Lit 1); ENGL 2328 (American Lit 2); ENGL 2332 (World Lit 1); ENGL 2333(World Lit 2); PHIL 1301(Intro to Philosophy); PHIL 2306 (Intro to Ethics); HUMA 1301 (Intro to the Humanities)

Creative Arts (Three semester hours)

ARTS 1301 (Art Appreciation); MUSI 1306 (Music Appreciation); DRAM 2361 (History of the Theater 1)

Core American History (Six semester hours)

HIST 1301 (U.S. History 1); HIST 1302 (U.S. History 2)

Government/Political Science (Six semester hours)

GOVT 2305 (Federal Government); GOVT 2306 (Texas Government)

Social/Behavioral Science (Three semester hours)

PSYC 2301 (General Psychology); SOCI 1301 (Introductory Sociology); ECON 2301 (Principles of Macroeconomics)

Component Area Option 1 (ties to foundational component area) (Three semester hours)

SPCH 1311 (Fundamentals of Speech); SPCH 1321 (Business & Professional Speech)

Component Area Option 2 (Three semester hours)

BCIS 1305 (Business Computer Applications); KINE/PHED 1304 (Personal and Community Health); PSCY 2314 (Human Growth and Development); HECO/BUSI 1307 (Personal Finance), COSC 1301 (Introduction to Computing); HECO 1322 (Nutrition)


Current or potential students can find these requirements in the SWTJC Catalog, which is available online 24 hours a day, seven days a week via the SWTJC website. Students are guided in course choices by academic advisors and by the degree pathways provided through the Student Planning feature of the College’s registration process.


Distance Education

The requirements for completion of General Education courses, whether the 42 semester credit hours in the A. A., A. A. T., or A. S. degrees, or the 15 semester credit hours in the A. A. S., apply to all students regardless of location or method of instructional delivery.


Texas Administrative Code 4.28: Core Curriculum
SWTJC Catalog, 2014-2016, pp. 108-110
SWTJC Catalog, 2014-2016, p. 130
THECB Designing Texas Undergraduate Education in the 21st Century Competencies
THECB Revising the State Core Curriculum: A Focus on 21st Century Competencies
SWTJC Policy EFAA Legal: Instructional Programs and Courses: Academic Courses
SWTJC General Education Committee Roster
SWTJC General Education Meeting Minutes
SWTJC Curriculum Committee Meeting Minutes, May 2, 2013
SWTJC Cabinet Minutes, May 18, 2013
Board of Trustees Minutes, May 16, 2013
THECB Core Approval, January 17, 2014
Texas Administrative Code 4.28: Core Curriculum
SWTJC Faculty Handbook, 2014, p. 124
SWTJC Core Matrix
SWTJC Catalog, 2014-2016, p.107
SWTJC Website Catalog
Student Planning Process


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