General Education Curriculum in the Degree Programs
General Education Curriculum Mission Statement: The General Education Curriculum (GEC) of The University of Southern Mississippi is designed to equip its graduates with a broad range of knowledge and skills and the wisdom to deploy them appropriately. In order to build lives of dignity and purpose, university graduates in the 21st century will need to
- analyze and evaluate private, public and professional discourse
- assume leadership roles, making use of effective oral and written communication
- engage their local, national and global communities as responsible citizens
- integrate knowledge across subject matters and disciplines
- approach problems with enthusiasm, energized by a spirit of inquiry
- adapt to professional, technological and social change with flexibility and resourcefulness
- make choices, conscious of intellectual, social and ethical contexts
- see themselves, their communities and their nation in historical context
- assess scientific data and conclusions
- appreciate the arts and their contribution to enlarging the human spirit, and
- collaborate with others to create a humane world
The faculty and administration of The University of Southern Mississippi are committed to providing educational experiences that empower our students not only to meet these challenges, but also to engage the future using the habits of learning acquired during their university education.
General Education Curriculum Oversight
The University of Southern Mississippi Academic Council provides general supervision over the undergraduate academic affairs of the University including the General Education Curriculum. The General Education Committee of the Academic Council is responsible for reviewing and recommending to the Academic Council all courses proposed for inclusion in the university’s undergraduate General Education Curriculum. The committee is also responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of all courses included in the General Education Curriculum according to the policy, procedures and criteria specified in the Academic Council Bylaws. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness provides administrative support to the Academic Council.
General Education Curriculum Student Learning Outcomes: The General Education Curriculum is structured for students to attain specific learning outcomes organized around the nine categories of the General Education Curriculum. Each category is associated with one or more broad learning principles and identifies specific student learning outcomes that are met by all courses within that GEC category.
There are 15 unique student learning outcomes across all nine categories. Because GEC 01, GEC 02.01, GEC 03, GEC 04, GEC 05, GEC 07, and GEC 09 each have a significant writing component, the two student learning outcomes related to written communication are repeated for each of these categories. Because GEC 08 and GEC 09 each have a significant speaking component, the student learning outcome related to oral communication is repeated for each of these categories. The General Education Curriculum student learning outcomes are:
- Students will develop a topic and present ideas through writing in an organized, logical, and coherent form and in a style that is appropriate for the discipline and the situation.
- Students will use Standard English grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage.
- Students will write a coherent analytical essay of a rhetorical situation or through written communication effectively analyze the components of an argument.
- Students will differentiate the basic concepts in a discipline of science.
- Students will employ the scientific method, interpret scientific data, and reach a plausible conclusion.
- Students will demonstrate the ability to work with real world situations involving fundamental math concepts.
- Students will evaluate major developments in world history, the historical roots of contemporary global cultures, or the literary, philosophical, or religious contributions of world cultures.
- Students will comprehend and proficiently interpret text.
- Students will understand the influence of art, music, theatre and/or dance on culture.
- Students will actively provide their own reasoned judgment of art, music, theatre and/or dance.
- Students will identify theories of human behavior, societal development, human decisionmaking, and group/social processes and apply theories and methodologies to real world situations and current issues and concerns.
- Students will recognize the effects of diversity among individuals or within/among groups/social systems.
Students will demonstrate basic technology literacy and apply knowledge of basic application software to the creation of structured documents and research.
Students will find, use, and cite relevant sources of information.
Students will use appropriate strategies to speak effectively in professional, social, or personal contexts.
General Education Curriculum Student Learning Outcome Assessment
All GEC courses are required to be assessed based on the GEC student learning outcomes. An annual GEC assessment report must be submitted by the academic unit. Additionally, selected students may participate in the administration of a national, standardized General Education Assessment Exam.
Writing and Speaking in the General Education Curriculum
Fluency in communication is the hallmark of an educated person. Therefore, the General Education Curriculum emphasizes the development of college-level communication skills of all students.
Writing. Courses in the first five GEC categories, with the exception of mathematics, require students to write a minimum of 2,500 words. In addition, English 102 requires students to write at least 5,000 words. Each degree plan specifies: (1) an upper-level course that is writing intensive and (2) a capstone. In each of these courses, students are required to write a minimum of 5000 words.
Speaking. Each degree plan specifies: (1) an oral communication course and (2) a capstone. Both of these courses require the successful completion of a minimum of two significant and graded speaking assignments.
Writing and Speaking Resources for Students and Faculty. The University of Southern Mississippi is committed to providing a learning environment that offers enhanced support for strengthening speaking and writing skills. Students have access to individualized assistance with writing and speaking assignments for any course through the university’s Writing Center and Speaking Centers on both the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses. Online tutoring is available for distance education students. The centers offer free, personalized assistance at any stage of the process with the goal of helping students become more effective writers and speakers. The Speaking Center also includes a presentation rehearsal studio with the tools and space to rehearse, record and view a presentation. Faculty members have the opportunity to participate in a faculty development seminar designed to enhance student learning outcomes in oral and written communication across the curriculum. Faculty resources for incorporating writing and speaking assignments are also available through the centers.
General Education Curriculum Syllabi
Syllabi of courses in the General Education Curriculum must include a statement or description of: (a) GEC Student Learning Outcomes addressed in the course; (b) course content and related activities; (c) student reading and writing requirements, where appropriate; (d) instructional methods and resources; and (e) student performance standards (including rubric if applicable).
Final Exams or Projects in the General Education Curriculum
All courses in the first five General Education Curriculum categories require a significant final project or proctored final examination.
General Education Curriculum in the Degree Programs
Students should check the degree plan for their major for specific courses that satisfy the GEC requirements.
GEC 01. Written Communication (6 hours)
Students scoring 20 or above on the English language portion of the ACT must enroll in ENG 101 during their first semester at the university. Students scoring 17, 18, or 19 on the English language portion of the ACT must enroll in ENG 100E during their first semester at the university and ENG 101 in the regular semester immediately following completion of ENG 100E. Students scoring a 16 or below on the English language portion of the ACT must co-enroll in ENG 099E and ENG 100E and immediately thereafter enroll in ENG 101. In the regular semester immediately following completion of ENG 101, students must enroll in ENG 102.
GEC 02. Natural Science and Mathematics (11 hours minimum)
Students complete a science requirement and a mathematics requirement.
Science (8 hours minimum)
Students complete two lecture courses with the co-requisite laboratories from the following list:
Mathematics (3 hours)
Students complete one course:
Students with an ACT mathematics subtest score of 19 or below are required to take MAT 99 - Intermediate Algebra before enrolling in MAT 100 - Quantitative Reasoning or MAT 101 - College Algebra.
Students with an ACT mathematics sub score of 24 or higher may enter MAT 102 (Brief Applied Calculus), MAT 114 (Calculus for the Arts and Sciences), or MAT 128 (Precalculus Mathematics) directly. Students with an ACT mathematics sub score of 24 or 25 may enter MAT 103 (Plane Trigonometry) directly. Students with an ACT mathematics sub score of 26 or higher may enter MAT 167 (Calculus I with Analytic Geometry) directly.
GEC 03. Humanities (9 hours)
Students complete two courses; one history course required:
GEC 04. Aesthetic Values (3 hours)
Students complete one course:
GEC 05. Social and Behavioral Sciences (6 hours)
Students complete two courses:
GEC 06. Computer Competency Requirement
Each degree plan specifies a GEC computer competency course or exam.
GEC 07. Writing-Intensive Requirement
(Prerequisite: ENG 101 and ENG 102)
Each degree plan specifies an upper-level GEC writing-intensive course. Departments may elect to develop a program-specific writing-intensive course within major courses or have students take an appropriate writing-intensive course in another department. GEC writing-intensive courses are defined as those that, while focusing on a specific subject matter (with corresponding readings and discussions), encourage students to think critically and creatively, outline a subject matter or theme and produce drafts. In writing-intensive courses, students write a minimum of 5,000 words (approximately 20 pages of double-spaced typed text) in discipline-specific papers and assignments. Class enrollment is capped at 24.
GEC 08. Speaking-Intensive Requirement
Competence in oral communication requires knowledge of the goals, rules, and audience in a particular situation; motivation to perform effectively; and, the ability to make a skilled presentation. All degree plans in the university must include an oral communication requirement. These courses are also referred to as Speaking Intensive courses and are listed under category GEC 08 in degree plans in the University Bulletin. Departments may elect to develop a program-specific GEC 08 course within major courses or have students take an appropriate course in another department. The Speaking Intensive component should enable students to aquire appropriate oral communication skills. SI courses must include at least two SI-related assignments, guidance and instruction in preparing those assignments, and a clear evaluation procedure to provide students with feedback about their work. Speaking assignments can include formal speeches, research presentation, lectures, small group presentations, dbates, interviews, etc. Students should experience oral communication in ways that are germane to and will best serve them in their disciplines.
GEC 09. Capstone Requirement
Each degree plan identifies a program-specific communication-intensive GEC capstone. The capstone must be taken the senior year and must meet the written and oral communication requirements outlined below. The program utilizes the capstone as a means of assessing student achievement of the program’s student learning outcomes. To receive credit for the capstone, students must receive a grade of C or better. Class enrollment is capped at 24.
Capstone written and oral communication requirements:
The writing component of the capstone requires students to write a minimum of 5,000 words (approximately 20 pages of double-spaced typed text) in discipline-specific papers and assignments. The written communication component should teach students to focus on a specific subject matter (with corresponding readings and discussions), encourage students to think critically and creatively, outline a subject matter or theme and produce drafts.
The oral communication component of the capstone requires the successful completion of a minimum of two significant and graded speaking assignments. The oral communication component should teach rhetorical reasoning, audience adaptation, professionalism and presentation skills including clarity of expression, ideas and voice, as well as prepare students to be critical consumers of public discourse.
Alternative Credit for the General Education Curriculum
A student may receive credits for a GEC course if he or she is able to demonstrate mastery of the course material. Credit can be received for any GEC course in one of the following three ways: the student 1) completes an equivalent course with an acceptable score through the College Entrance Examinations Board’s Advanced Placement Testing Program before entering The University of Southern Mississippi; 2) passes an appropriate CLEP examination or 3) passes a departmental challenge examination on the relevant course material. The detailed procedures and regulations regarding these three methods of obtaining up to 30 hours credit toward a degree at The University of Southern Mississippi are described in the General Academic Information section of this Bulletin.
Additional requests for exemptions and substitutions for the requirements of the General Education Curriculum should be addressed to the provost.
Individual student requests are handled in the following manner:
- The student’s department (adviser, then chair/director) signs and then forwards the request to the dean of their major.
- The major dean then forwards the request to the accepting department.
- The accepting department forwards the request to the dean of its college.
- The request is then forwarded to the provost.
- The Provost forwards the request to the GEC committee for recommendation as appropriate.