Core Curriculum Committee Draft Report
October 1, 2004
For Community Discussion and Comment
I. Introduction: the Seton Hall educational environment and the
history of the Core Project
The Core Curriculum Committee was elected by the Faculty Senate in November
response to President Sheeran’s request that the faculty develop a core curriculum which
would embody a “signature Seton Hall University experience.” The originally elected
members were: Margaret Greene (Nursing), Richard Hunter (Business), Beth Bloom
(Library), Peter Ahr (A&S), Judith Stark (A&S), Mary Balkun (A&S), Angela Weisl (A&S),
Jurgen Heinrich (A&S), Steve Kelty (A&S), Roseanne Mirabella (A&S), Marta Deyrup
(Library), and Bill McCartan (CEHS). At its first meeting, the Committee elected Roseanne
Mirabella and Peter Ahr as co-chairs. Over time, Professors Hunter and McCartan found it
imperative to resign from the Committee because of other commitments. Prof. Deborah
Zinicola was elected by her colleagues to replace Prof. McCartan, but the School of Business
representative was also unable to participate in the Committee’s activities. In the process of
its deliberations, the Committee decided to invite Msgr. Richard Liddy, Marian Glenn,
George Browne, Tracy Gottlieb, Dean Dawn Williams, and Janet Easterling to join our
deliberations because of their unique perspectives; Msgr. Liddy’s participation was
particularly solicited because a number of the members of the Committee had already begun
thinking about these issues in his Catholic Studies Seminar the previous summer. Two
presidents of the Student Government Association, Edward Krajewski and Alison Quatrini,
also participated in our meetings.
The Committee has been meeting regularly since that time, usually at least
By the end of the Spring 2002 semester, the committee had surveyed the general education
requirements of many other institutions, and had discussed the history of educational reform
at Seton Hall. We concluded that general education programs generally follow one of two
models: either they focus on inputs (the content of courses required of all students) or they
are based on student outcomes. In discussing these two approaches, we concluded that
focusing solely on the input questions is to invite an endless debate with no discernable
criteria; this, we reflected, has been the process which produced the present Core of the
College of Arts and Sciences. Over the last ten years, there have been two initiatives to
reform the current A&S core, but neither was able to effect any real change. In light of
these attempts, we realized that it is not likely that we or any committee could come up with
content recommendations which would enjoy the broad support of our colleagues.
It became clear to us that the line of inquiry most likely to lead to productive consensus is to
ask the broad question: “what do we want our students to become?” With this question in
mind, we convened several public “town meetings” over the summer of 2002, in which we
invited all participants to contribute their answers to this general question and to raise their
questions or concerns which might be useful in pursuing our deliberations. We also
developed and circulated a survey to solicit faculty views on general education.
In the fall semester of 2002, the committee worked on synthesizing these answers in an
effort to present to the University community some ideas on general education that could
lead to something of a consensus on our shared values. In working through these complex
issues, we also identified two models of general education requirements, those at St.
Bonaventure and at Alverno College, which we decided to present to our colleagues as
possible models of how we might structure our own form of Catholic higher education,
as these models could provide us with fruitful material for discussion and debate. We
presented them at both the Town Meetings and the Neighborhood Meetings with
departmental faculty during the 2002-2003 academic year and over the summer of 2003.
This look at alternative models did, indeed, spark a great deal of comment and creative
thinking among our colleagues.
Over the course of the 2003-2004 academic year, the Committee took the notes
more than fifty meetings with department faculty and the results of our faculty survey, in an
attempt to devise recommendations that would accomplish the ends identified by our faculty
as important. The results of these many hours of discussion and debate are the proposals
brought forward in this report.
Another matter that came to the Committee’s attention in surveying the
was our relative position with regard to our competitor institutions. A study done for the
Planning and Budget Committee revealed that we are virtually the only private institution in
our area that charges tuition for full-time students by the credit, and not by the semester.
Our total graduation requirements are also significantly greater than those of our competitor
institutions, both private and public.
It is the Committee’s recommendation that, in our restructuring of our
requirements, we also address these two issues, neither of which is helpful to us as we
compete for students. These two changes (flat tuition and reduction of credit requirements)
are both significant: they will force the University to restructure its budgeting process, and
will force every school and college to rethink its overall curriculum. Since our own
recommendations also include a significant change in the way our students will learn, we
believe that all of these changes must be implemented simultaneously. While the Committee
believes that it is possible to implement these changes for the fall 2006 freshman class, we
recognize that a delay on any of these fronts will require postponing all the changes until
they can be made together.
The Committee accepts the Planning and Budget Committee’s conclusion that our
of charging tuition for full-time undergraduates on a per-credit basis and of adding several
large fees to that credit bill puts us at a competitive disadvantage; our fees structure, as we
know from student comments, is particularly irritating to our students. It is difficult for
present or prospective students to calculate the cost of their education; and the per-credit
tuition structure encourages students facing financial difficulty to take fewer credits per
semester, thus delaying their graduation and lowering our graduation rate. To shift to a persemester
tuition structure (incorporating all fees into that one figure) will clarify the real cost
of education for our students and will encourage students to complete their education in a
timely fashion. It will also enable the University to forecast its revenues more accurately, to
allocate resources more effectively, and to create a realistic multi-year budget.
Seton Hall’s graduation requirements also differ substantially from those of its competitors.
Our requirements of 128-130 credits are significantly higher than those of practically every
other institution we surveyed. In effect, we require nearly a semester more than these
institutions for graduation; this requirement certainly makes us less attractive, particular to
transfer students. In years to come, we will be facing increasing competition for students;
we believe that lowering our graduation requirements to 120 credits is a key element of our
This relatively high number dates back to the curriculum of the 1940s and
required some 120 academic credits, plus 10 credits of theology, taught in a series of 1-credit
courses; this program was common in Catholic colleges and universities at the time. When,
in the 1960s, the theology curriculum was changed to a set of academic 3-credit courses, the
University did not, as did most other universities, include these courses in the 120 credits of
academic credit, but kept the credit total at 130. Given that tuition was (and is) charged by
the course, the reasons for keeping the credit total high at that time are clear; but we
recommend that Seton Hall follow, even if belatedly, the practice of most universities by
requiring 120 credits for graduation; if tuition is to be charged by the semester, this change
can be made without financial sacrifice by the institution.
It is also clear to the Committee that not all of our academic programs can
accommodated within 120 credits; outside accreditation requirements for some of our
programs mandate more than 120 credits. Nevertheless, the Committee strongly
recommends that all schools and colleges revise their graduation requirements to meet the
120-credit maximum in all cases except those in which outside accreditors require more.
The Committee is confident that University is more than able to undertake an educational
reform on the scale which we are recommending. In the past decade, the University has
won national recognition for its success in implementing its mobile computing program,
which has dramatically transformed the educational experience of our students. Both our
well-publicized national awards from the information technology field and the final report of
the ACE-Kellogg project have identified our success in institutional transformation as a
model of national significance. We have learned from this experience that only a wellconsidered
plan that clearly defines objectives and provides adequately-resourced training
and support for faculty members can bring about the kind of educational transformation we
propose in this document.
The reforms we are proposing draw not only on our experience with mobile
they also are bringing forward a number of other initiatives our faculty have undertaken in
the past few years, and proposing to make these initiatives universal. The reworking of our
writing requirements is an extension of work our English Department has been doing over
the past ten years, in reworking its syllabi for ENGL 1201-02, in the years of Writing Across
the Curriculum workshops, and in several CDI initiatives; and our proposals for quantitative
literacy reflect the Mathematics Department’s revision of its curricula. The University’s
Outcomes Assessment Team has for several years been developing protocols for better
assessing student learning. The curricula of several Schools of the University have already
been reframed in terms of student learning objectives, rather than simply course content.
The faculty of the College of Education and Human Services have developed an exemplary
electronic portfolio system for assessing student development. The Committee believes that
the University is in a position to universalize these successes into a truly transformational
When we accomplish the reforms here proposed, we believe we will have given
form to our oft-stated mission of forming servant leaders, and we will have provided a
model of Catholic higher education for the 21st century. We invite our colleagues to
consider these proposals, and to join in this effort to provide our students with the kind of
“signature Seton Hall experience” the president has called us to create.
II. Desired Goals of a Seton Hall University General Education: What
do we want our students to become?
Mindful of the President’s charge to devise a “signature Seton Hall
experience,” the Core
Curriculum Committee began its work by looking for possible models for genuine
educational reform. Surveying a large number of other institutions, we found three basic
kinds of core curricula. One is a set of distribution requirements, more or less like our
present system. Another model relies on a number of courses specifically designed as a
common educational experience for all students, and required of all students. The most fully
developed such Core we found is that at St. Bonaventure’s University: it requires a total of
twelve courses of all students, taught in its Clare College (http://www.sbu.edu/academics_clare.html).
In their own words, “the major goal of Clare College is to guide students
along an intellectual journey
that explores a larger context for their personal, professional and civic lives.
It aims to do this by providing a common
educational experience grounded in the liberal arts and sciences in dialogue with the
intellectual and spiritual vision of its patron, St. Bonaventure.”
The third model for a new Seton Hall curriculum is that of Alverno College
(http://www.alverno.edu/for_educators/ability_curriculum.html). It begins by defining a
set of abilities which all students are expected to develop during the course of their
education. The abilities, as Alverno defines them, are Communication, Analysis, Problem
Solving, Valuing in Decision-Making, Social Interaction, Developing A Global Perspective,
Effective Citizenship and Aesthetic Responsiveness. All Alverno students are expected to
be developing these abilities throughout their curriculum, and are required to document and
reflect on these outcomes throughout their education in a Diagnostic Digital Portfolio of
their work (http://www.alverno.edu/academics/ddp.html).
In looking at these models, we confronted the question of how one might
them: what would make this model preferable to some other? It became clear to us as we
discussed this question that the most productive way of analyzing curricula is not by
examining what is in the curriculum, but by looking at what might be the results of such a
program. To put this question differently, the question is not “what should we teach our
students?” but rather “what do we want them to become?” In both the open “town
meetings” and in the fifty-some meetings with departmental faculty, we heard a consistent
agreement on a number of points. Most significantly, many of our faculty articulated in one
way or another the absence of distinctiveness about the Seton Hall curriculum. Many
comments reflected an unhappiness with our students’ thinking and writing skills, and many
of our colleagues described an unhappiness with the level of our students’ abilities in
researching questions, with their historical consciousness, and with other aspects of what
might be called a “liberal education.”
The St. Bonaventure model struck most of our colleagues as interesting, but
appropriate for the wide variety of curricula we offer in our several Schools and Colleges. It
was the consensus of most groups that a set of twelve courses would be practically
unfeasible for us, however intellectually desirable it might be. The Committee is persuaded
that any specific Core courses must be the responsibility of the full-time faculty of the
University and not of adjunct faculty; we carefully measured the faculty resources available to
us, and our recommendations are calibrated to what we can actually manage with our fulltime
The Alverno model was also generally regarded as a fruitful basis for
discussion, but was
thought by most of our colleagues to be somewhat lacking in intellectual clarity and content.
At the same time, it is clearly a useful model for measuring educational outcomes.
In reviewing our colleagues’ responses to the questions raised in the many meetings with
departments, it became clear to us that neither the St. Bonaventure’s nor the Alverno model
of general education would serve our purposes precisely, although elements of both models
were widely praised. Many of our colleagues were impressed by the sense of institutional
mission imparted by the set of courses embodied in the St. Bonaventure’s program; such an
approach struck them as a remedy for the lack of distinctiveness in our present educational
program. Many others were struck by the clear skills development that is the base of the
In evaluating our colleagues’ responses to our questions, the Committee
developed a list of
desired outcomes articulated by our colleagues. In sorting through these items, it became
clear that these outcomes fell into three broad groups:
1. the outcomes which have to do with institutional mission: the student’s
what a Catholic university education is about;
2. the outcomes which are a matter of specific skills development in writing, thinking
and information fluency; and
3. the outcomes which are a matter of familiarity with issues that are central to the
Catholic intellectual tradition and central to the kind of intellectual formation needed
for excellence in the world our students will be living in.
This clarification of what we believe our colleagues regard as the desired
outcomes of a
Seton Hall education guided the development of our recommendations. The concerns
about institutional mission and the formal articulation of the concept of “servant leadership”
led us to formulate a set of three courses, somewhat similar to the courses at St.
Bonaventure’s. What we came to discuss as “universal proficiencies” in critical thinking,
reading, speaking, writing and information fluency appeared to us to be critically important
to the total development of our students. They are habits and skills that need constant and
specific development and practice, and they are clearly not adequately developed in one or
two courses. We recommend that specific development of these habits be incorporated into
most, if not all, of our courses; to this end, we are recommending a requirement that at least
half of a student’s courses include specific attention to these skills. Our colleagues identified
a set of “fundamental literacies”: religious, ethical, aesthetic, quantitative, scientific, and
global/historical/cultural. We agree that these are also integral to a genuine education in the
Catholic tradition. How these literacies are to be developed we leave to the faculties of the
several schools and colleges, within the general guidelines we propose, to ensure some
degree of consistency and accountability.
The other issue which guided our deliberations is the need for assessment of
what we are
doing. One of the principal criticisms we heard from our colleagues is that many of our
stated curricular goals, particularly in the College of Arts and Sciences, are vague and not
subject to any assessment or measurement. It is a principal concern of ours that whatever
we adopt as our general education requirements be clear, specific, and subject to assessment.
This concern is now supported by the final report of the Middle States Association, which
mandates that the University report to Middle States in two years on our formal plan to
assess student learning. We believe that the electronic portfolio component of our proposal
meets this standard; the Committee’s meeting with the Middle States evaluators assured us
that the direction in which we were proceeding would indeed bring the University into
compliance with that standard of good practice.
In order to accomplish the objectives described by our colleagues, the Core
Committee proposes the following as the framework of a Seton Hall University core
1. That the graduation requirements for the bachelor’s degree be reduced to
credits, except in those programs of professional certification which cannot
be accommodated within 120 credits.
2. That undergraduate tuition for full-time students be charged by the semester
for 12 to 18 credits, and not by the credit.
3. That all undergraduate students take three three-credit “Odyssey” courses,
one in each of their first, second and third years of study. These courses are
to be specifically designed to present the University’s mission as a Catholic
institution of higher study, and to provide all students with a developing sense
of their own vocation as servant leaders to a global society. These courses are
to be developed by a special task force of the Core Curriculum Committee;
their syllabi are to be approved as well by the faculty of the College of Arts
4. That students’ skills in the universal proficiencies of critical thinking,
information fluency and oral and written presentation of ideas be
systematically developed in at least 50% of all their coursework. These
proficiencies are to be introduced in coursework in the first year, and further
developed throughout the student’s undergraduate years.
5. That, in addition to the Odyssey courses, each student must take at least four
courses which specifically develop each of the six fundamental literacies:
religious, ethical, mathematical, scientific, aesthetic, and
global/historical/cultural understanding. The ways in which this
requirement is to be fulfilled are to be determined by the faculties of the
several Schools and Colleges, subject to the criteria established by the Core
Curriculum Committee of the Faculty Senate.
6. That students’ developing sense of their professional and personal
development be documented in an electronic portfolio to be maintained by
the University. The portfolio is to be the record of the student’s fulfillment of
the core curriculum and major requirements, and is to contain work products
from the student’s courses which attest to the student’s mastery of the
universal proficiencies and fundamental literacies, as well as of the major
program’s content. This electronic portfolio is thus a record of the student’s
learning which can be assessed by the student, by the faculty, and by the
7. That responsibility for the implementation, supervision, assessment and
revision of the University Core Curriculum be vested in the Core Curriculum
Committee of the Faculty Senate.
The later sections of this report detail the rationale for the third through the seventh
recommendations; the first two have already been discussed.
III. The Odyssey of the Mind, the Heart and the Spirit: the
Development of Servant Leaders
A recurring comment from our colleagues was that a core curriculum should foster an
understanding of the world's spiritual and intellectual history in light of the university’s
specific identity and mission. The Odyssey courses form the foundation and framework of
the entire core curriculum and, as such, provide the heart of students' core experience at
Seton Hall. As a major Catholic university, Seton Hall builds a liberal education through a
common "Odyssey" that invites students to explore the insights of and responses to the
Catholic intellectual tradition, and to reflect upon these ideas in relation to their own lives
and the discernment of their personal vocation. The Odyssey courses challenge students to
reflect upon the question, "What is the authentic human life?" Students explore how
addressing this human question leads to answering the call to service and leadership as these
have been understood and practiced through the ages and around the world. From the
insights developed through a liberal education, and the activities of service and leadership,
arise a personal as well as a cultural transformation, which will animate the spirit of a Seton
Hall University education.
The three core courses in The Odyssey of Mind, Heart and Spirit are:
1st year: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition;
2nd year: The Journey of Transformation;
3rd year: The World’s Deepest Needs.
The Odyssey courses are interdisciplinary: faculty teaching the courses are drawn from
throughout the university. Courses are taught by full-time faculty in classes with a seminar
format (15-20 students). Each course is infused with Seton Hall's universal proficiencies:
reading and writing, public speaking, critical thinking and information fluency. From the
first to the third course, students are assigned work that grows increasingly sophisticated,
independent, and individualized.
Learning goals will be used to assess the success of the Odyssey courses. Three types of
learning objectives will be assessed for each student in each of the Odyssey courses and the
relevant materials to demonstrate these objectives will be posted in their electronic portfolios.
1. Students must provide evidence of increased proficiency in reading,
critical thinking and information fluency.
2. Students will understand the major achievements and modes of inquiry which have
contributed to the spiritual and intellectual developments of humanity and of world
3. Students will learn to ask and to reflect upon ultimate questions with particular
reference to the Catholic traditions: What makes us human? What is the nature of
God? What are good and evil? What is the human relationship to the world? Where
am I now and where am I going, and where do I want to go?
First semester: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition
This course introduces students to writings by some of the key figures in the Catholic
tradition who explore the relationship of faith and culture. Reading Plato’s writing on the
question of the authentic life sets the theme for the course. The Hebrew Bible and the
Christian Gospels provide other perspectives on the relation of faith and vocation. The
course explores the academic strands (Ancient Greek, Christian, Islamic and Jewish) that led
to the medieval university and samples the ways in which the Scientific Revolution and
historical consciousness profoundly affected ideas about the nature of the divine and the
This course is linked with University Life (1 credit) through various
including becoming familiar with the campus and its history as a setting for living and
learning, the service activities and cultural enrichment of the Freshmen Compass program,
and an introduction to the Archdiocese of Newark as a community of faith committed to
authenticity and service to others.
Second year: The Journey of Transformation
This course guides students in discerning their own calling through reading and reflecting on
classic literature on this theme. Students begin by considering the idea of a "calling" and of a
"journey" in key works of world literature and from world religious traditions.
The weekend retreat that accompanies this course is a time of reflection to guide students in
considering their own deepest desires and in developing the attentive skills necessary for
vocational discernment. Students choose from a variety of reading selections and films to
discuss, to highlight the moral dimension of vocation, and to consider how the choices that
we make influence not only our own lives but those of others.
Third year: The World’s Deepest Needs
The third course in this sequence guides students in reflecting on the evolving understanding
of human nature in theories and practices of social organization. Students examine the
advent of modernity in the social sciences, the theoretical roots of liberal democracy,
colonialism, the post-modern critique of modernity, especially as reflected in Catholic Social
teaching, and the global humanitarian crises facing the 21st century. As a unifying theme in
this sweep of the world, the course focuses on the role of religion, social and political
structures, calling, and leadership. The retreat in this course focuses on the transformative
nature of servant-leadership. Students reflect upon the service that they do and its meaning
in their lives. They reflect upon the activities they do that promote their sense of meeting
the world’s needs, and explore ways they can aim toward this sort of commitment in their
career planning and preparation for a lifelong vocation as servant leaders.
IV. Systematic Development of Universal Proficiencies
One of the comments the committee heard most commonly from our colleagues is that our
students are not sufficiently practiced in critical thinking, not adequately discerning in using
information, and not skilled in writing and other forms of presentation, despite the fact that
they have had introductory courses in writing and speaking. On reflection, it is clear to us
that the reason for this weakness is that good thinking, reading, writing and speaking are not
contents to be mastered in a single course, but habits of mind which must be systematically
cultivated. If we are serious in our determination that our students master these habits of
mind, we must reconfigure our courses to reinforce these essential intellectual skills as we
teach the content of the course. If we want our students to become good thinkers,
researchers, writers and speakers, we must develop these skills in all of our courses, and do
so in such a way that this skill development is part of what we assess in assigning a grade for
To this end, the Committee proposes the following requirement:
That at least half of the courses which a student takes must explicitly develop the
student’s critical thinking, information fluency, writing and speaking skills.
To meet this requirement, the syllabus of the course must demonstrate that some 15-
20% of the course grade will consist of assessment of the student’s proficiency in
research, argument, writing and other presentation skills.
Critical Thinking includes the following elements:
• Identification of arguments,
• Identifying assumptions of the argument
• Finding conclusions and premises,
• Identifying fallacies,
• Distinguishing between inductive and deductive arguments;
• Distinguishing between explanations and descriptions,
• Identifying analogies and conditionals;
• Types of reasoning (analogical, enumerative, statistical, causal, scientific);
• Application of forms of reasoning to various disciplines and to critical analysis of
everyday arguments in terms of structure and strength.
Information Fluency is:
• The ability to locate, evaluate, and use information to become independent life-long
• Knowledge of the practical skills necessary for effective use of information resources,
print and electronic
• The critical reflection on the nature of information itself, its technical infrastructure,
and its technical, social, cultural, and philosophical context and impact
• The ability to use and understand the form, format, location, and methods of
information resources, print and electronic.
• The understanding of the suitability of knowledge and how it is produced.
• The ability to understand and use information resources.
• The ability to produce a report of the results of research
• To make appropriate use of research within disciplinary standards
• An understanding of ethical issues concerning research, including plagiarism,
copyright, fair use, intellectual property, etc.
• Approaches the text critically
• Understands the text’s argument
• Understands the text’s content and methodology
• Can evaluate the validity of the text’s argument
• Understands its assumptions, explicit or hidden
• Understands the nature of various genres of writing
• Critiques its use of examples and details
• Understands and critiques its language, structures, and organization
• Detects fallacies or disjunctions
• Meets the standards of the discipline
• Uses appropriate vocabulary for the discipline
• Uses appropriate organizational structures; follows appropriate forms
• Uses appropriate language, grammar, and sentence structure
• Conveys the intentions of the author to the audience
• Proves its point clearly with appropriate examples
• Allows effective communication
• Shows an awareness of audience
• Delivers content and form appropriate to the audience
• Is appropriately paced and delivered
• Communicates clearly
• Is of appropriate length
• Makes contact with the audience
• Is well rehearsed
• Is well researched
• Makes appropriate use of supplemental visual examples, such as slides, charts, graphs,
power point materials, etc.
• Engages the audience’s interest.
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of undergraduate education is the process of
bringing students to an understanding of their education as more than the accumulation of
facts to be memorized or of courses to be taken. It is our hope that, by the time our
students have graduated, they will have become independent thinkers and researchers, able
to think deeply and critically about what they learn. This habit of mind, however, does not
develop by itself; our courses must be designed to raise the critical questions to explicit
consideration, and our assessment measures must include evaluation of our student’s ability
to think critically and not mechanically about what they have learned.
Another of the goals of the educational enterprise is to make students
life-long learners. To
achieve this outcome, students must learn how they learn and how to learn. Information
fluency is the method by which students learn what they know, what they don’t know, and
how to find out what they need to know. With the enormous changes in information
delivery and information availability, these skills become increasingly crucial. In addition,
students need to know how to incorporate information into their own work: how to select
useful resources, how to handle them, how to document them, how to critique them, and
indeed, how to read and understand them and engage them in dialogue. To become active
learners rather than passive regurgitators of information, students need to develop
information fluency. As plagiarism becomes easier, students need to learn the difference
between making sophisticated, educated use of outside material and simply reproducing it as
if it were their own.
Reading and writing are vital skills for success in any field. These skills
are also an essential
part of every program offered at the University; yet faculty often feel frustrated by their
students’ lack of proficiency in these areas. Although the University requires a two-semester
first-year writing sequence, this course does not teach the specifics of reading and writing in
individual disciplines. While continuing to reinforce the general reading and writing skills
students develop in the first-year sequence, the revised courses we propose will train
students to understand and use the disciplinary standards of reading and writing required in
their majors and minors. Thus, students will simultaneously acquire general reading and
writing proficiency and the necessary professional reading and writing skills to allow them to
succeed in their advanced work and professional lives.
Speaking and oral presentation are vital skills for success in any field;
is increasingly in high demand. These skills are also an essential part of every
program offered at the University; yet faculty often feel frustrated by their students’ inability
to express themselves orally. Speaking proficient courses will train students to understand
and use the disciplinary standards of oral presentation required in their majors and minors,
while enhancing their ability to communicate, formally and informally. Thus, students will
simultaneously acquire general oral proficiency and the necessary professional presentation
skills to allow them to succeed in their advanced work and professional lives.
How to Incorporate Critical Thinking into a Course
A Critical Thinking course will pay attention to the assumptions, evidence and arguments
which underlie the course material, as well as to the material itself. Research and other
assignments will demand analysis and not mere repetition of facts; and it will be clear to
students that the course expectations include the expectation that the student will
demonstrate an ability to make appropriate analysis of the material.
How to Incorporate Information Fluency into a Course
An Information Fluency Proficient course will require students to incorporate research into
a variety of projects, which will then become a primary method of assessment within the
course. Formal training in information fluency skills may be a part of the course. Formal
research projects might include project reports, formal presentations, group presentations,
lectures, and research papers. Informal research projects might include annotated
bibliographies, research reports, research journals, and research worksheets. The research
assignments should make use of the course content.
How to Incorporate Reading and Writing into a Course
A Reading/Writing Proficient course will require students to read and write extensively and
will use that material as a primary method of assessment within the course. The writing can
be both formal and informal. Formal writing might include project reports, research essays,
essay exams, evaluative essays, response papers, letters, lab reports, research plans, and
literature reviews. Informal writing might include journals, blackboard discussion groups,
evaluative quizzes, in-class writing, or memos. The writing assignments should make use of
the course reading. Although approximately 25 pages of writing is the general standard for
“writing intensive” courses, this should serve as a guideline rather than a strict requirement
How to Incorporate Speaking into a Course
A Speaking Proficient course will require students to present information orally in formal
and informal ways and will use that material as a primary method of assessment within the
course. Formal speaking might include project reports, formal presentations, group
presentations, lectures, or discussions. Informal speaking might include short reports,
analyses of readings, information sharing, etc.. The speaking assignments should make use
of the course content.
How to Assess Critical Thinking
Classroom discussions should devote time to the nature of argument implicit in the course
material, and should be designed to bring students to a deeper appreciation of the ways in
which such argumentation forms the conclusions of the discipline. Written work, and
particularly examination questions, should be formulated in such a way as to require students
to discuss the ways of thinking and argumentation that undergird the course material.
How to Assess Information Fluency
Information Literacy exercises should assess the students’ understanding of, ability to
critique, and ability to make use of research to satisfy their course requirements. Students’
research will be assessed and commented on for both content and form, including their
incorporation of that research effectively, making use of disciplinary standards of citation
and documentation, clarity and understanding, appropriate choice of resources,
understanding of resources, etc. Assessment of students’ information literacy proficiency
may be done in a variety of ways. Students must demonstrate: an understanding of the
structure of information and its formats (including print and electronic); understanding of
research tools—which tools are most appropriate for specific topics or curricular areas;
understanding of controlled language—how it functions and how proper use facilitates
learning and research; the ability to contextualize a research topic—knowing how to clarify
the topic to make it more appropriate to the requirements of their assignment; an
understanding of their research topic in a larger context; an ability to place these research
skills into other contexts, and the ability to access and use information ethically and legally.
Examples might include graded annotated bibliographies that include narrative emphasis on
research content, point-of-view, and authority of source. Other assessable materials include
research journals or reports, worksheets, or projects. These may ask students to respond to
questions such as: How does this cited information support your thesis? Why did you select
this quotation or paraphrase? How does it support or disagree with your previous
understanding of the topic? Why did you place this quotation or paraphrase here?
How to Assess Reading and Writing
Students’ critical reading can be assessed separately or as a part of their writing. Separate
assessments may include reading quizzes, discussion, oral presentations, blackboard
discussion groups, etc. These exercises should assess the students’ understanding of, ability
to critique, and ability to make use of what they have read.
Students’ written work will be assessed and commented on for both content and form. That
is, evaluation will be based both on the students’ knowledge and handling of discipline
specific material but also its presentation. This may include an assessment of the structures
of the students’ argument, their organization and development, their use of examples and
details, their use of appropriate vocabulary, their understanding of disciplinary standard of
writing, and their use of English grammar and sentence structures. If the assignment
included reading and research, the assessment may include an evaluation of how clearly and
effectively the student understands, handles, and makes use of the reading.
How to Assess Speaking
Speaking exercises should assess the students’ understanding of, ability to critique, and ability
to make use of course material in an oral format
Students’ oral work will be assessed and commented on for both content and form. That is,
evaluation will be based both on the students’ knowledge and handling of discipline specific
material but also its presentation. This may include an assessment of the structures of the
students’ argument, their organization and development, their use of examples and details,
their use of appropriate vocabulary, their understanding of disciplinary standards of
presentation, speech clarity and diction, awareness of audience, tone, and their use of
English grammar and sentence structures. If the assignment included research, the
assessment may include an evaluation of how clearly and effectively the student understands,
handles, and makes use of that material and how effectively she or he can convey that to
Faculty Development: Critical Thinking
Faculty Development initiatives and training for Critical Thinking courses will take place in a
series of seminars in which members of the Philosophy Department will be called upon to
take a leading role. Faculty will participate in a series of workshops that focus on identifying
the kinds of argument appropriate to a particular course, the nature of evidence, the
underlying assumptions of arguments in the field, and the ways in which the subject matter’s
perspectives influence the way the student thinks. These seminars will generally be on a
departmental basis, in deference to the wide variety of ways in which different disciplines
formulate their specific argumentations.
Faculty Development: Information Fluency
The library will provide faculty development through a clearly articulated set of learning
outcomes, which will provide a set of standards, performance indicators, and objectives.
These seminars will teach faculty instructional design methods, the use of appropriate print
and electronic resources, the integration of research and resources into curricular goals, an
understanding of the role of student learning styles and demographics, the emphasis on lifelong
learning, etc. Librarians may become active members of course blackboard sites,
providing additional research assistance to faculty and students. Along with seminars on
development, the library will offer to both students and faculty
• in-depth research consultations and appointments;
• individualized instruction;
• electronic or print instruction aids;
• group instruction in traditional or electronic classrooms;
• web tutorials and web-based instruction;
• asynchronous modes of instruction (e-mail, bulletin boards);
• synchronous modes of instruction (chat software, videoconferencing);
• course management software; and
• hybrid or distributed learning or distance learning, employing combinations of the
Faculty Development: Reading and Writing
Faculty Development initiatives and training for Reading/Writing Proficient courses (often
called Writing Across the Curriculum) will follow the model established in CDI-5 and CDI-7.
Faculty will identify a course for development and will participate in workshops over the
course of a semester. The workshops will focus on incorporating writing into existing
courses, assessing reading and writing, peer editing, using writing to assess reading, avoiding
plagiarism, developing assignments and assignment sequences, incorporating research,
identifying and instructing critical reading, grammar and mechanics, etc. Faculty will work
with a previously trained faculty mentor for one-on-one assistance and will take part in
Blackboard discussions, commentary, and postings.
Faculty Development: Speaking
Faculty Development initiatives and training for Speaking Proficient courses will take place
in a series of seminars offered by the Speech Communications Faculty. Faculty will
participate in a series of workshops that focus on incorporating speaking into existing
courses, assessing speaking, group discussion, using speaking to assess reading and research,
avoiding plagiarism, developing oral assignments, instructing speaking techniques, etc.
Faculty will work with a faculty mentor for one-on-one assistance and will take part in
Blackboard discussions, commentary, and postings.
V. Infusion of Fundamental Literacies and Methodologies
A. Argument for infusing key literacies in the Core Curriculum
The committee believes that the core curriculum of Seton Hall University must
reflect the Catholic intellectual tradition of integrating all ways of knowing in human and
spiritual ways. This tradition holds to the unity of knowledge over against the increasing
fragmentation and instrumental uses of knowledge in the postmodern world. In a world
which calls into question the very effort to acquire truthful and valid knowledge, the Catholic
tradition affirms the possibility of a systematic and holistic way of acquiring knowledge, and
insists that the purpose of acquiring knowledge is the education of the whole person for a
full human life.
Our students come to us out of a fragmented educational system, and with very
instrumental expectations of their university experience. They expect that material in one
course has little to do with any other aspect of their learning, and that a narrow focus on
their professional development is the desired product of their degree. It is our task to help
bring them to an appropriation of themselves as persons, and to an exploration of their own
interests, gifts and talents so that they can make valued judgments about their own personal
and professional lives. It is also our task to help them to see their education as a whole, and
not as merely the accumulation of discrete bits of information.
In our two years of discussing with our colleagues across the University the
of what we want our students to become as a result of their Seton Hall education, we kept
hearing a consistent set of hopes and expectations. Beyond expecting them to be clear
communicators, apt researchers, and critical thinkers, our faculty consistently hopes that our
students will leave more religiously literate, more ethically aware, more quantitatively and
scientifically literate, more sensitive to aesthetic issues, and more historically, culturally and
globally conscious. To accomplish these goals, the committee proposes that our students be
systematically educated in six fundamental literacies, and that education in these literacies
should constitute one of the hallmarks of a Seton Hall undergraduate education. This set is
distinct from the universal proficiencies which the committee believes should be in evidence
in the vast majority of courses taught in the undergraduate curriculum at Seton Hall. These
• Religious literacy
• Ethical literacy
• Quantitative literacy
• Scientific literacy
• Aesthetic literacy
• Global/Historical/Cultural literacy
While not circumscribed by specific disciplines, these literacies present
ways of organizing knowledge and experience of the world. As such, these literacies
comprise sets of principles, vocabularies, methodologies, theories and ranges of discourse, as
much as a set of factual content. Students are introduced to these in formal and rigorous
ways and employ them in other courses throughout their education, enabling them to move
from a factual to a conceptual understanding of the world.
It is the responsibility of the faculties of the several schools and colleges
how these literacies are to be developed within their curricula. These ways of thinking may
be taught via a foundation course in a particular literacy. If so, that course is followed by
other into which this literacy has been infused. If there is no single foundation course,
departments and colleges will propose course offerings which contain, develop and reinforce
these literacies. In all cases the criteria for infused courses will be determined and reviewed
by the Core Curriculum Committee.
Students benefit in the following ways as a result of the infusion of these
into courses from a variety of disciplines and departments:
1. First, the literacies are supported and reinforced in disciplines that are separate but
share questions, topics and issues with the literacy being infused into the courses.
2. Second, students learn to use the literacies as tools in other disciplines while
maintaining the integrity or rigor of the host course.
3. Third, in an increasingly specialized and yet interdependent world, students are
encouraged to engage problems and issues from a variety of perspectives, bringing to
bear on them a coherence and acuity that values complexity and avoids reductionism.
4. Fourth, students learn to make connections and understand the complexities of the
topics and issues under investigation in ways that illuminate the material in the host
course and increase their facility with the literacy beyond the foundational levels.
5. Fifth, by both analyzing and synthesizing, students develop more sophisticated habits
of mind, giving them opportunities to explore and understand complex issues in an
increasingly interdependent world.
B. Proposed Core requirement
In order to accomplish these goals, the committee proposes the following Core requirement:
In addition to the Odyssey courses, each student must take at least four courses
which specifically develop each of the six fundamental literacies: religious,
ethical, mathematical, scientific, aesthetic, and global/historical/cultural
1. In order for a course to qualify as developing any of these literacies, fifteen
to twenty percent of the course material must integrate the infused literacy
with the course material in ways that show the connections between the
material and the literacy.
2. The course must use the literacy to illuminate the course material in a way
that would otherwise not be made explicit.
3. The infusion must use the vocabulary and principles of the literacy.
4. The course material for the infusion must be in readings, course materials
and projects and assessment in such a way that the student’s fluency in
the literacy is an essential part of the course grade.
5. A course which is specifically an introduction to the literacy itself as the
essential course content will count as two courses toward fulfilling this
6. The faculties of the several colleges and schools may specify for their
students which courses may be required to fulfill this requirement, subject
to the criteria adopted by the Core Curriculum Committee of the Faculty
7. In order that the infused literacy be developed throughout the student’s
education, at least one course in each literacy area must be taken after the
student’s first sixty credits.
8. Provided that the above principles are observed, an individual course may
be permitted by the core curriculum committee to count as fulfilling the
requirements of more than one literacy. Thus, for example, a course on
“religion and science” might fulfill both the religious and the scientific
9. Consistent with the sense of the Catholic intellectual tradition articulated
above, it is the hope of the Committee that these requirements may spur
the creation of new and perhaps interdisciplinary courses which explore
the interconnectedness of knowledge.
C. Characteristics of courses developing literacies:
1. Courses developing religious literacy are distinguished by all or some of the following
• Analysis and discussion of course materials includes attention to the nature of
religious experience in its varying manifestations
• Students are provided opportunities for and guidance in critically engaging questions
of life’s ultimate reality, power, and meaning
• Students gain understanding of differing approaches to the study of religion
including, e.g., sociological, psychological, historical, phenomenological, theological,
• Course materials and discussions include analysis of religious rituals, symbols and
• Course includes discussion and analysis of sacred texts or religious themes in
• Non-western perspectives on the religious dimension of life are included in the
• Courses engage students in a nuanced analysis of the complex role of religion in
contemporary culture include such topics as: religion, politics and nationalism;
religion and science; religion in the media and popular culture
• Writing assignments, quizzes and tests include evaluation of students’ ability to
critically engage the study of religion
• Assignments are included in students’ eportfolios as evidence of students’
understanding of course material
2. Courses developing ethical literacy share all or some of the following characteristics:
a. Principles for foundation courses in ethics:
• Since ethics is a mode of thinking which is typically not part of our entering
students’ education, faculties are encouraged to propose foundational courses
which formally introduce students to this intellectual discipline.
• Students understand the specific nature of ethical inquiry within its own sphere,
methodologies and principles that are different in kind, but not unrelated to
other areas of human inquiry and activity.
• Students demonstrate mastery of a number of the fundamental theories of ethics
that have been developed in the western tradition from ancient times to the
present. When appropriate, readings in other traditions are also assigned and
• Students cultivate habits of mind and heart that help them see the place and
function of the Jewish and Christian ethical and religious traditions in a global
setting. Using these principles, students work on understanding the applications
of servant leadership in personal, professional and social contexts.
• Students read and understand texts from the classical philosophical literature in
• Students understand the vocabulary, methodologies and principles developed in
ethical theories to address moral questions and issues.
• Students gain practice in applying ethical theories to contemporary moral
• Students use ethical reflection as a way to challenge their own and society’s
assumptions and values in order to give them tools to create full and ethical
• Students develop skills in ethical reflection, analysis and judgment that help
prepare them to lead virtuous and meaningful lives.
• Students understand the importance of ethical reflection as individuals and in
relation to society.
• Students apply ethical theories and principles to a broad range of social and
b. Principles for infusion of ethical literacy into other courses:
• Texts, case studies, issues, and course materials are of a substantive and complex
nature and they include ethical problems or dilemmas.
• Analysis and discussion of materials enable students to understand the
specifically ethical dimensions of the topics under consideration.
• Students use concepts, principles and tools of critical thinking to help them
identify assumptions, analyze arguments and evaluate conclusions of the claims
being presented in course materials.
• Faculty members help students evaluate claims by applying fundamental
principles of selected ethical and religious theories (e.g. Jewish, Christian, Islamic,
utilitarian, natural law/rights, virtue theory, and Kantian ethics) to the course
• Global perspectives and theories are included in the courses
• Assignments for these units are included in students’ eportfolios as evidence of
students’ understanding of course material.
• New courses are developed focusing on non-western approaches to ethics and
3. Courses developing quantitative literacy share all or some of the
a. Principles for Foundational Courses
• Students understand that quantitative reasoning is an integral part of daily life. They
need competency in numerical computation and quantitative reasoning to be
effective managers in their households and engaged participants in their workplaces
and in our communities.
• Students demonstrate numerical and symbolic proficiency by performing exact
calculations as well as estimations, or completing truth tables.
• Students acquire methodologies and tools for a variety of problem solving scenarios.
This includes appropriate use of technology to facilitate problem solving.
• Students extract quantitative information from narratives and solve word problems
using the tools and methodologies in the bullet above (work with modeling applied
to real world applications.) Inherent in this principle is learning to use the
appropriate model or envisioning a variety of possible models, using the
appropriate vocabulary to express models, validating the use of a particular model,
and extrapolating to variations of the original problem.
• Students engage in expressing and interpreting solutions in a variety of ways
including explanatory essay and oral response.
• Students see the dual roles of intuitive thought as well as deductive logic in
b. Modules in other courses should include some elements listed below to a significant
• Problems, models, data sets, measurements and predictions discussed are of
substantive nature, and require the student to demonstrate levels of numerical or
symbolic proficiency including exact calculation, critical estimation, and/or logical
argument. This proficiency level should be equal to or more advanced than the level
of foundational courses.
• Quantitative methodologies, including computational tools or software, are used for
• Models are designed or introduced to use for analysis in the context of the course.
Examples include (but are not limited to) statistical or financial models,
probabilistic and risk models, networks, environmental studies models, economic
models and decision theory, epidemiology studies, population models, physical
science models, dynamical systems, linear programming and symbolic logic.
• Students are required to justify the use of the model, including selection of any tests
or parameters, and to interpret the results of its use. Where appropriate, students
should discuss open questions or suggest possible follow-up studies.
• Communication of findings demonstrates the student’s ability to explain results
within the appropriate context of the problem. Examples include charts, tables,
diagrams, spreadsheets, essays, written statements of proof, and Power Point
4. Courses developing scientific literacy share all or some of the following characteristics:
• Students understand scientific methods, including investigative design using
objective reasoning, and communication of results (peer review).
• Students evaluate investigator objectivity, examine the scientific “enterprise”
including funding sources, social context of research priorities etc.
• Students evaluate the impact of the natural and technical sciences on society,
including historical development of ideas/policies surrounding this technology.
5. Courses developing aesthetic literacy share all or some of the following characteristics:
• In a world increasingly saturated with visual imagery, students attain visual literacy,
i.e. the ability to critically analyze and interpret what one sees. For music,
analogously, auditory literacy denotes the ability to critically analyze and interpret
what one hears.
• Students develop an aesthetic sensibility that enables them to appreciate and enjoy
visual and auditory culture, whether it be fine art, architecture, design, fashion, etc.—
or—classical music, religious music, jazz, or hip-hop, etc.
• Students demonstrate mastery in contextualizing visual and auditory culture. They
become conscious of the fact that visual and auditory culture are essential aspects of
culture as a whole, and that they cannot be fully understood outside of their broader
cultural context; furthermore, that they have a history that is closely bound up with
place and time.
• Students appreciate visual arts and music as universal languages that defy many
boundaries of age, gender, race, and religion. As technological means of
communication often eclipse more visceral and direct means of dialogue, familiarity
with visual and auditory means of communication provides an important balance in
• Students recognize a variety of artistic and musical expressions and will be able to
associate them with their own experiences.
6. Courses developing global/historical/cultural literacy share all or some of the
• Students acquire a broad understanding of the changing forms of human social
organization from the earliest times to the present day, from hunter-gatherer and
agrarian communities to modern-industrial and postindustrial societies.
• Students gain a basic knowledge of the changing global map over the centuries.
• Students enhance their ability to place contemporary events in a global cultural and
• Students grasp past and present patterns of global interaction in their various
• Students develop a sense of the range of future scenarios, with respect to
environmental sustainability, inter-cultural conflict, and technological advancement.
• Students gain a general understanding of the basic methodologies used to study
cultures in a variety of global settings.
• Students develop a basic knowledge of the history, culture and institutions of the
society in which most of them will spend their adult lives.
• Students experience a deep and sustained engagement with a particular culture and
tradition different from their own.
• Students are able to apply the perspective of a particular discipline to an
understanding of the particular culture being studied.
• Students use a distinct methodological approach in their immersion experience: i.e.
historical investigation; detailed examination of a particular literary and aesthetic
tradition; participant observation; advanced study of a foreign language (third year or
above); institutional and structural analysis; and critical review of previous
• Students are able to perceive patterns of commonality and difference among
different cultures and to understand how the shared challenges of the human
condition are approached in different cultural and historical contexts.
• Students are able to compare two or more different cultures or the same culture at
different points in time in relation to a particular theme or topic.
• Students familiarize themselves with the various methodologies that can be
employed in comparative analysis.
D. Implementation Plan: responsibility of the Core Curriculum Committee
1. Development of literacy parameters
a. Each faculty literacy team devises a set of criteria, such as the above, for infusing
its own approach into courses from other disciplines, subject to the approval of
the core curriculum committee.
b. Initiate discussions and deliberations about the rationale for and against
foundation courses for specific literacies.
c. Develop strategies for bringing relevant stakeholders into discussion and
deliberations about the process of infusion for particular literacies into alreadyexisting
d. Help organize and support the “train the trainers” seminars.
e. Devise overall committee structure for initial training and oversight.
2. Curriculum Development for Infusion
a. Start with “training the trainers” for each literacy. Identify and meet with
relevant and interested faculty to identify those interested to become the trainers.
Run seminars to “train the trainers”.
b. Identify and solicit faculty who will propose their courses for “infusion pilot
project;” select three courses for each literacy for inclusion in the pilot.
c. After trainers have been trained, they work with faculty in pilot project over the
course of one semester to revise existing courses with infusion units.
d. Following semester: teach pilot courses with ongoing support and seminar for
participating faculty. Stipends available for trainers and participating faculty.
3. Share Proposal with Relevant Stakeholders
a. Solicit faculty members for each literacy who will carry out the implementation
plans as outlined above.
b. Work with interested faculty across the University for inclusion in the
a. A standing committee on assessment is constituted for each literacy, reporting to
the core curriculum committee.
b. These committees conduct on-going review of both foundational and infused
c. These committees oversee assessment techniques for student performance for
the infused units of the courses.
d. As part of their self-assessment, students produce a short written statement as a
summation of their growth in understanding the literacies that have been part of
their Seton Hall education. This document is included in the students’ eportfolios.
VI. Systematic Development of the Student’s Self-appropriation of the
fruits of a Seton Hall Education
Another frequently-heard comment about our general education is that, for many of our
students, it is a disconnected series of courses which they do not see as relating to each other.
Many of our colleagues pointed out that students often do not see material from one course
as having any relation to any other course, so that their university education appears to them
as a series of disjointed experiences.
To counter this understanding, the Committee proposes that one of the
of a Seton Hall University education should be the student’s conscious appropriation of his
or her education as a whole, and not just as a set of discrete experiences. The consistent
development of the universal proficiencies and of the fundamental literacies described above
will give our students a clearer sense of their growing intellectual ability, and of the
interconnectedness of their learning; the “Odyssey” courses will give them a clearer template
for understanding their own growth as servant leaders.
The Committee believes an unspoken goal of many of our colleagues’ hopes for
a Seton Hall
University education is that our students will not only learn, but also learn that they are
learning. We believe that one of our goals should be that our students come to appropriate
their education for themselves and develop a conscious understanding of themselves as
leaders, as learners, and as whole persons. To this end, the Committee recommends four
strategies: electronic portfolios to record student growth and reflection, a capstone
integrating experience in every major, retreats in the sophomore and junior years for
reflection on the purpose of education, and regular self-assessment by our students.
Many of our colleagues shared our enthusiasm for the kind of ongoing record of learning
and accomplishment that is embodied in Alverno College’s electronic portfolios of its
students. We believe, in consultation with the Teaching, Learning and Technology Center
and with the Outcomes Assessment Team, that it will be possible for Seton Hall to institute
such an electronic portfolio system for our own students.
The electronic portfolio will serve several important functions. When courses
by the Core Curriculum Committee as developing the universal proficiencies and the
fundamental literacies, the portfolio system can record these certifications and automatically
record students’ fulfillment of these requirements as they pass the certified courses. The
portfolio can thus serve simultaneously as an ongoing degree audit for students and their
advisers, as an ongoing formative assessment of the student’s learning and finally as a
summative assessment of the student’s whole educational experience.
The portfolio is also an electronic repository of student papers, research and other work. As
such, it can become the nucleus of the student’s résumé at graduation. More importantly,
however, it becomes the record of the student’s developing skills in reasoning, writing and
presentation, and of the student’s growing literacy and professional skills. The portfolio is
thus the raw material of the student’s self-assessment as a growing learner: students will be
able to measure their own progress as they compare their later work with their first attempts
at university-level thinking and writing. The Committee is convinced that this kind of selfassessment
is a key part of the education we want our students to have, so that our students
are increasingly aware of how their education is shaping their growth.
The electronic portfolio is also a measure of public accountability. Papers and other work
published to the portfolio are clearly published as the student’s own work, demonstrating the
student’s growing skills. Departments, schools, and colleges will be able to use this record as
part of their overall assessment of a student’s learning, and, when appropriate, of the
student’s professional preparation. The work of the College of Education and Human
Services in developing professional portfolios to demonstrate their students’ professional
abilities has persuaded the Committee that this strategy will be equally transformative for all
of our educational programs.
Many of the University’s undergraduate degree programs already have an integrating
capstone experience, whether a senior thesis or senior research or service project. The
Committee believes that the value of such a capstone experience, in which the student brings
together many of the skills learned over the past years to focus on a single issue or problem,
is a supremely valuable way for students to integrate their education. It is the Committee’s
recommendation that all undergraduate degree programs incorporate a capstone experience
as a required component of the degree requirements. The capstone project is to be
published in the electronic portfolio as part of the student’s demonstration of how the
coursework leading up to this project has added up to a publicly measurable level of
The Committee believes that an essential component of the “signature Seton Hall University
experience” must be the student’s experience of personal and conscious growth as a leader,
as a learner, and as a whole person. For this reason, the Committee proposes that the
second and third “Odyssey” courses include a mandatory one- or two-day retreat informed
by the four discernment processes of the Lilly grant, which would be devoted to the
students’ exploration of their growing sense of self, of vocation and of professional identity.
The weekend retreat in the first course is a time of reflection to guide students in considering
their own interests and passions and in developing the attentive skills necessary for
vocational discernment. Students choose from a variety of reading selections and films to
discuss, to highlight the moral dimension of vocation, and to consider how the choices that
we make influence not only our own lives but those of others. The retreat in the second
course focuses on the transformative nature of servant leadership. Students reflect upon the
service that they do and its meaning in their lives, upon the activities they do that promote
their sense of meeting the world’s needs, and upon ways they can direct this sort of
commitment in their career planning and preparation for “lifelong vocation.” The details
of such retreats are spelled out in greater detail in the appendix on the “Odyssey” courses.
The central emphasis in all these activities, enabled by an electronic portfolio system, is that
students develop the habit of reflecting on their own learning and growth. The journal
writing that is part of the Odyssey courses, the reflections on their own professional
development, and the choice of work they publish to their portfolios will all help them
develop this sense of themselves as growing learners.
These mechanisms will also make it possible for departments, schools and colleges to
develop other ways for students to become even more reflective on their learning and on
their professional development. It is this habit of self-reflection and self-assessment which
will set our graduates apart. For them, education will not consist in ticking off requirements
and course credits; it will be an organic process of conscious growth as learners and persons.
This kind of conscious self-development is in the highest tradition of Catholic education; it
should be a hallmark of everything we do.
VII. Assessment of Student Success
The reforms the Committee proposes also allow the University to develop a systematic
assessment of student learning. Standard 14 of the Middle States Association’s Standards of
Accreditation is that: “Assessment of student learning demonstrates that the institution’s
students have knowledge, skills, and competencies consistent with institutional goals and
that students at graduation have achieved appropriate higher education goals.” After its
most recent accreditation visit, the Association has required the University to report by April
1, 2006 on the “development and implementation of a written plan for the assessment of
institutional effectiveness and the assessment of student learning at all levels.”
The Committee believes that the approach to general education we propose meets the
objectives set out in Standards of Accreditation. The Committee recommends that the majority
of courses be rewritten to incorporate specific skills development in the universal
proficiencies, that assessment of these skills be part of the course grade, and that evidence of
the developed skills be published to the student’s electronic portfolio. Similarly, courses
dealing with the fundamental literacies also must demonstrate that the required material is
incorporated in the syllabus, that assessment of the literacy is incorporated in the grading
process, and that evidence of the student’s literacy is published to the electronic portfolio.
In this way, the faculty assessment that is part of the course grading process moves beyond
course content to assessment of more general student learning, and students find they are
accountable for both the course content and their own skill development.
The electronic record of student learning artifacts will be an index to the faculties of the
departments, schools and colleges of how successful individual programs of study are in
accomplishing their stated learning objectives. The process of personal reflection on
learning will also provide valuable feedback to our faculty on how successful we are at
accomplishing our objectives.
The key to institutionalizing our assessment of student learning is the process of revising all
course syllabi and program descriptions to reflect the specific learning objectives of the
course or program, in terms both of content mastery and of skills development. The School
of Business and the College of Education and Human Services have already successfully
done such a pedagogical revision; the Committee believes that the same kind of institutional
rethinking of our programs, objectives, and assessment measures will move the University to
the kind of systematic and continuing assessment of student learning that is the standard of
good practice. The University Outcomes Assessment Team is available to assist individual
faculty in syllabus revision and to assist programs in the development of learning objectives
and assessment approaches.
VIII. Implementation and Continued Supervision of the Core
Curriculum by an Elected Faculty Committee
Upon its approval by the Faculty Senate, the Core Curriculum is to be the responsibility of
the Core Curriculum Committee of the Faculty Senate. For this purpose, the Committee
recommends that the present Academic Policy and Core Curriculum Committee be
thenceforward divided into two committees: the Academic Policy Committee, which is to be
responsible for all academic matters other than the Core Curriculum, and the Core
The Core Curriculum Committee is to be elected by the Faculty Senate. It is
to have one
representative from each of the undergraduate schools and colleges, with three
representatives from the College of Arts and Sciences. The Committee will elect its own
chair. Given the importance of the Core, the Committee recommends that the chair of this
committee be a senior tenured faculty member.
The Core Curriculum Committee of the Faculty Senate will have a number of
• It is responsible for approving the criteria for infusion of the universal proficiencies
and of the fundamental literacies.
• It is responsible for the certification of courses as fulfilling the criteria adopted for
the universal proficiencies and the fundamental literacies;
• It is responsible for approval of capstone experiences in all departments and
• It is responsible for oversight of the three “Odyssey” courses;
• It is responsible for the coordination of the faculty development efforts necessary
for the successful implementation of the Core;
• It is responsible for the assessment of the Core.
To carry out these responsibilities, the Core Curriculum Committee of the Faculty Senate
will need a set of subcommittees which will serve as action task forces.
• There is to be a Steering Committee to coordinate the implementation of the Core
and of the faculty development needed for full Core implementation. The Steering
Committee reports to the Senate through the Core Curriculum Committee. It elects
its chair. It is appointed by the Core Curriculum Committee, and consists of:
o The course coordinators for the three Odyssey courses
o The coordinator of the proficiencies infusion process
o The coordinator of each literacy group
o The director of Freshman English
o A representative of Freshman Studies
o A representative from the Division of Student Affairs
• Each of the three Odyssey courses is to be organized and monitored by a
force approved by the Steering Committee. Interested departments and colleges are
welcome to nominate members for these task forces. In the first year, these task
forces will be nominated by the Core Curriculum Committee which devised this
report, to assure that the initial implementation of these courses is consonant with
the Core proposal. Each of these three task forces will be headed by a stipended
coordinator, who will also serve on the Steering Committee. The three task forces
will develop the reading lists and syllabi of the three Odyssey courses, present the
syllabi to the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences for approval, and
collaborate with the Provost, deans and department chairs to recruit an adequate
number of faculty members to teach these courses. The three task forces will also
conduct a semester-long training seminar with the course faculty to assure a
common approach to all sections of the courses. The task forces will also perform
an annual assessment of the courses, reporting to the Core Curriculum Committee of
the Faculty Senate on student learning outcomes, and making recommendations for
improvement of the courses. Since these three courses will be implemented one year
at a time, the bulk of the work in the first year will be on the development of the first
course; the second and third courses will be developed in the ensuing two years. The
course coordinators will at first be appointed for a three-year term; once the entire
Odyssey program is in operation, the course coordinators will serve a two-year term.
It is the Committee’s recommendation that the first coordinator of the first
course be a faculty member from the Catholic Studies program, that the first
coordinator for the second Odyssey course be drawn from the Department of
Religious Studies or the Department of Philosophy, and that the first coordinator of
the third Odyssey course be drawn from one of the social science departments.
• The infusion of the universal proficiencies will be the responsibility of a group of
faculty members chosen by the Steering Committee and headed by a stipended
coordinator. Interested departments and colleges are welcome to nominate
members to this group. This subcommittee is charged with developing, reviewing
and publishing the criteria defining the proficiencies, recruiting faculty members for
training, and arranging faculty development seminars, in collaboration with the chairs,
deans and provost. This proficiencies subcommittee will also assess its efforts
annually in a report to the Core Curriculum Committee of the Faculty Senate,
reporting on student learning outcomes and making recommendations as indicated.
• The infusion of the fundamental literacies is likewise to be entrusted to faculty
groups appointed by the Steering Committee, drawn from the appropriate disciplines
and headed by stipended coordinators. Each of the six literacy groups is charged
with reviewing and defining the parameters of infusion of the literacy, with recruiting
faculty for training, and with organizing faculty development efforts. Each group is
to report annually to the Core Curriculum Committee of the Faculty Senate on
student learning outcomes, and making such recommendations as are indicated by
IX. Adoption and Implementation Plan
The reforms the Committee proposes represent a major change in the way the University
carries out its educational mission. It is the faculty’s responsibility to define the University’s
academic mission, and the Faculty Guide identifies the Faculty Senate as the body
empowered to act in the faculty’s name. Accordingly, the proposals of the Core Curriculum
Committee will be presented, after public discussion and comment, to the Faculty Senate for
After the Senate’s approval, however, there are many further steps to be
taken before the
new Core can be implemented. It is the Committee’s hope that all the necessary preliminary
steps can be taken in order to implement the new Core for the entering freshman class of
2006, to mark the University’s 150th anniversary. It may not be possible, however, to have all
the necessary work done to meet that deadline; in such a case it will be necessary to
postpone implementation to the following year.
With changes of the magnitude proposed, it is clear that the new Core will
apply to students
entering after a certain date. Students who entered the University before that date will be
held to the present set of requirements, and to the present tuition structure. We will be
going through several years of maintaining two tuition structures and two sets of graduation
requirements; it is unthinkable that we implement these changes in parts and so maintain
more than two sets of tuition structures or graduation requirements. We have to make all
these changes at once, or we will be unable to make them at all.
The Committee’s recommendations include the adoption of a flat per-semester
undergraduates under the new Core; this new tuition structure will obviously have significant
budgetary implications, which must be thought through before a University budget can be
built on this new tuition structure. The flat tuition structure has been suggested by the
University Planning and Budget Committee, and work has begun on modeling how to build
a budget on a per-semester undergraduate tuition basis. That model must be in place by the
summer of 2005 in order to build the budget for FY 2007, which would include the first year
of the new Core’s implementation.
Another of the Committee’s recommendations is the reduction of the
graduation requirements to 120 credits. This recommendation calls on the faculties of all
undergraduate colleges to revise their curricula to bring their various degree requirements to
this limit, and to rethink their core requirements in light of the University Core. As noted
above, it may be impossible to bring all degree programs down to 120 credits, but the
Committee’s recommendation is that exceptions to this general rule be few in number, and
clearly proven. This revamping of all undergraduate curricula will not be quickly done; but it
must be completed before the new Core can be implemented.
Another factor which may determine the date of implementation of the new Core is the
need to recruit students for that first entering class. Recruitment for the freshman class of
2006 begins in the fall of 2005; recruitment materials for that class have to be written in the
spring and summer of 2005, so that they may be printed and available for the recruitment
season. Since the graduation requirements and tuition structure under the new Core will be
quite different from our present ones, all our recruitment materials will have to be revised.
The publication deadlines for these materials are therefore another critical factor in the
implementation date for the new Core.
A restructuring of how we teach, on the scale proposed, will also call for a
amount of faculty development. We have learned from our success with mobile computing
that an intensive effort of faculty development is a critical means to our success. The Core
will be implemented one year at a time, as the first entering class moves through its
undergraduate career. Critical to our initial success, therefore, will be the faculty
development needed for the first year’s classes. The curriculum of the first “Odyssey”
course will have to be finalized and approved by the faculty of the College of Arts and
Sciences, and some fifty faculty members will have to work through the material of that
course together, to prepare for that first cohort of students. In preparation for that first
class, many workshops on the universal proficiencies will have to be held, so that faculty
members can redraw their syllabi in appropriate ways to reflect their development of those
proficiencies. At least a third of the undergraduate faculty will have to participate in these
workshops in that first year.
Additional workshops will be needed in each of the fundamental proficiencies
to begin the rethinking and revision of syllabi to reflect these Core prescriptions. These
workshops can be modeled on the mobile computing workshops and the Writing Across the
Curriculum workshops we have conducted over the past decade. The English Department
will also be continuing its efforts in reworking its syllabi for ENGL 1201-02 and training its
faculty in this approach.
In that first year, the syllabi for the second Odyssey course will have to be
approved, so that in the second year another cohort of 20-30 faculty members can work
through that material in preparation for the entering class’s second year. The workshops on
the proficiencies and the literacies will also continue into this year, to reach additional
members of the faculty.
The second year of training will also see the finalizing and approval of the
syllabus of the
third Odyssey course, so that in the third year of implementation an additional cohort of 20-
30 faculty members can prepare for the entering class’ junior year. The third year of
implementation will call for still more workshops in the proficiencies and the literacies; the
number of such workshops will be determined at least in part by the number of faculty still
needing training, as well as by the need for training new faculty hired in the previous years.
The development of the electronic portfolios will also call for a considerable amount of
faculty training. It may well be that, since the portfolios are expected to be part of the
University’s Blackboard system, the additional training for the portfolios will be relatively
simple for individual faculty members; but all members of the faculty will need to develop
proficiency in the use of the portfolio strategy.
As noted above, the coordination of all the faculty development efforts
implement the new Core will be the responsibility of the task force subcommittees of the
Core Curriculum Committee of the Faculty Senate. These faculty development efforts will
require substantial investment of time and resources by the University, and will call for close
collaboration among the Senate Committee task forces, the Provost, and the Teaching,
Learning and Technology Center. This kind of collaboration will, by itself, be another
benefit of the new Core.
The final step needed for implementation of the new Core will be the
certification by the
Core Curriculum Committee of the Faculty Senate of revised courses as meeting one or
more of the prescriptions of the Core. Faculty members will be called on to present their
revised syllabi, and to demonstrate to the Committee, presumably through a special
subcommittee, that the revised syllabi meet the criteria of the Core. Courses so approved by
the Core Curriculum Committee will then be entered in the electronic portfolio database, so
that students taking the approved courses will be automatically noted as fulfilling Core
requirements by doing so. The portfolio system will thus serve also as an ongoing degree
audit, both for the student and for the student’s advisers.
It should be clear by now that the proposed Core Curriculum will occasion
profound shifts in the way the University educates its students. All of these changes will
take time, effort and careful planning. The attention to all these details, however, will be the
catalyst of our offering an education to our students which will be distinctive and
distinctively better. The Committee believes that the benefits of these changes more than
justify the herculean commitment of energy and resources that will be required.
X. Assessment of the Effectiveness of the Proposed Core Curriculum
The Committee recommends that the Core Curriculum be an ongoing responsibility of the
Core Curriculum Committee of the Faculty Senate. That Committee is to be charged with
periodically reviewing the goals and objectives of the Core Curriculum, as well as with the
certification of courses as meeting one or more of the Core’s objectives.
In the early years of the Core’s implementation, the Core Curriculum Committee will be
largely involved in overseeing the Steering Committee’s development and implementation of
the specific criteria for the various Core requirements, as well as for ongoing dialogue
regarding the development of the electronic portfolios.
In the seventh year of the Core’s implementation, the Core Curriculum
charged to undertake an overall assessment of the effectiveness of the Core. At that point in
time, the first three classes to enter under the new Core will have graduated, and their
portfolios will provide some data to assess the degree to which the Core requirements have
accomplished the goals set out as the reason for this reform. The Committee is to assess the
extent to which the goals are being accomplished as well as the adequacy of the goals and
objectives as stated, and to make to the Senate such recommendations for change as it
deems warranted by the evidence.