General Education
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Characteristics of a GE Course

The following list of fourteen propositions describes key characteristics of a general education course. A course proposed for general education certification at Bergen Community College must meet the criteria set forth in these propositions.

  1. A general education course is broad, introductory, and foundational in its field.
  2. A general education course does not presuppose the student's command of highly technical/specialized language, concepts, knowledge, or skills.
  3. A general education course is not "specialized education," which prepares students for particular occupations or specific professional responsibilities. It does not focus narrowly on those skills, techniques, and procedures specific to a particular occupation or profession.
  4. A general education course covers one or more of the subjects typically required of educated persons that form the shared intellectual heritage of our diverse culture.
  5. A general education course is general, i.e., not focused upon "majors" or academic and vocational specializations. Its object is "common learning," based upon those realities, experiences, and concerns which all humans share by virtue of their common participation in "the human situation." It seeks the academic and cultural common ground. Its subject matter is part of what all truly educated people have (and ought to have) in common.
  6. Critical Thinking: A general education course teaches principles and methods of analytic, critical, and systematic inquiry and reasoning that students then apply to the solution of problems relevant to the discipline being studied, thereby enhancing students' ability to make informed, discriminating, and responsible judgments on the basis of logical and critical analysis and evaluation of ideas, events, and issues.
  7. Communication and Writing: A general education course fosters literacy in writing, reading, speaking, and listening.
  8. Information Literacy: A general education course fosters forms and levels of information literacy appropriate to the discipline being studied, including the skills and research techniques necessary for effective information access, interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and application.
  9. Ethical Reasoning: A general education course increases a student's consciousness of the important social and ethical concerns of the day.
  10. Intellectual growth: A general education course includes instruction that presents forms of expression, fields of knowledge, and methods of inquiry fundamental to intellectual growth and to an understanding of the world and the human condition.
  11. Technological Competency: A general education course includes learning of technological capabilities appropriate to the discipline being studied.
  12. Integration, Synthesis, Application: A general education course enhances a student's ability to integrate, synthesize, and apply in various contexts core knowledge and skills learned in their coursework, not only in the single course but within and across other courses and disciplines.
  13. Citizenship: A general education course enhances students' abilities to function as responsible citizens.
  14. Continuing Learning: A general education course takes students beyond the acquisition of course-specific knowledge and beyond the immediate application of learning and provides them with opportunities for analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of learning.

For more information:  Standards for General Education Courses