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The GCCR is the new Graduation Composition and Communication Requirement, which replaces the former GWR (Graduation Writing Requirement). The GCCR is intended to vertically integrate learning outcome #2 of the UKCore (that is, students will demonstrate competent written, oral, and visual communication skills both as producers and consumers of information) into upper-division majors across the university. The GCCR can be addressed in a relevant upper-division course or series of courses agreed upon by both the department faculty of each degree-granting program and a cross-disciplinary GCCR university senate committee.
The University has adopted the new GCCR in conjunction with updating its General Education UK Core requirements and to meet the accreditation standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The GCCR, along with the new Presentation U Initiative, is the basis for the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to improve undergraduate education. The purpose of the GCCR is to extend and improve education in multimodal composition and communication. Improved vertical integration under the new GCCR will carry this emphasis on composition and communication from the lower level of the UK Core into the upper levels of individual majors and programs. Each program will thus have an integrated emphasis on the writing and communication skills that are appropriate for its curriculum. Studies such as the 2010 Collegiate Learning Assessment have shown that significant enhancements in learning result from greater practice in upper-tier critical writing. Moreover, employers and post-graduate programs regularly stress the importance of improved professional written and oral communication skills for success in virtually all fields. According to the most recent employer surveys reported in Job Outlook 2013, for example, “the ideal candidate is a good communicator who can make decisions and solve problems while working effectively in a team” (p. 31).
Beginning fall 2014, every incoming student completing a Bachelors program at UK will be required to fulfill the GCCR. Every undergraduate degree-granting program and major will be required to fulfill the stipulations of the GCCR by assuring a clear path to its completion for their majors.
The new GCCR (S.R. 18.104.22.168) was provisionally approved by the University Senate on May 6, 2013 for implementation in fall 2014. The GCCR is an upper-tier requirement. Students must have completed the UK Core Composition & Communication I & II requirement, or its equivalent, plus 30 hours of coursework or transfer credits (sophomore status), before completing the GCCR.
Students enrolled in UK prior to fall 2014 (that is, between fall 2004 and fall 2014) will still be required to fulfill the old Graduation Writing Requirement (GWR) and granted exceptions as deemed appropriate by associate deans at the college level. Classes previously identified in the Undergraduate Bulletin as satisfying the GWR will continue to do so. GCCR courses may also be “grandfathered” in to fulfill the old GWR for students who still need it.
The requirements of the GCCR are programmatic and curricular.
In terms of programs and majors, the GCCR requirements include:
every program will articulate the composition and communication requirements of the GCCR as a part of their program Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs);
every program will implement these requirements as appropriate to the academic discipline and professional expectations of the major;
every program implementation of the GCCR will be subject to regular assessment and evaluation;
courses and curricular implementation will be subject to review and approval by the Senate GCCR Advisory Committee.
In terms of curriculum, the GCCR guidelines stipulate these major requirements:
one or more written assignments in English (the language) that total to at least 4,500 words (the equivalent of 15 pages of double-spaced, typewritten text);
either an oral assignment, in which students must give a presentation at least 10 minutes long, or a visual assignment, in which students create at least one significant visual/electronic artifact (e.g., a web site or video presentation);
an assignment that requires the student to demonstrate information literacy in the discipline;
courses must incorporate a draft/feedback/revision process on GCCR assignments for writing and for oral or visual work;
to satisfy the GCCR, students must earn an average grade of C or better on the designated Composition and Communication intensive assignments produced in any given course designated as fulfilling some or all of the GCCR.
The GCCR requirement is intended to be fulfilled via coursework in the major program, either as the focus of a single course or as a series of GCCR intensive assignments in a series of courses. The most common form of delivery will probably be one course in the discipline with a composition and communication-intensive focus.
In most cases, yes. The GCCR moves away from the “one size fits all” model of the old requirement and toward a vertically integrated approach specific to each major. As such, students will be expected to fulfill the GCCR requirement through the courses specified for their majors. However, allied majors and programs may choose to recognize the GCCR fulfillment of each other’s programs if it is appropriate to the academic disciplines and professional expectations of those majors. For example, the program in Physics & Astronomy may choose to recognize the GCCR-credit courses of the Mathematics program, and vice-versa; or the English major may choose to recognize the GCCR courses of the program in Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital studies. However such agreements and course sharing still require the review and approval of the GCCR Advisory Committee. They should also be formalized by a Memorandum of Understanding or other explicit agreement (see below).
Do programs have to create all new courses to fulfill the new GCCR?
Departments are required to articulate the GCCR as a part of their program SLOs and to provide a means for every major to fulfill the requirement. Current courses, especially capstone courses in the major, may be revised to reflect GCCR requirements. They will then be put forward for GCCR approval and regular assessment review in terms of their C&C-specific SLOs. Program faculty also may work together with faculty in other disciplines to create a course or to modify an existing course to fulfill the GCCR for their major if the faculty in the second undergraduate program so agree. In such cases a Memorandum of Understanding or other formal agreement between the two programs is recommended in order to clarify the staffing expectations, content, delivery, and assessment of cross-program GCCR courses. Courses so designated must clearly fulfill the requirements for composition and communication that are appropriate to the academic discipline and professional expectations of the major, as determined by the faculty. Programs and units are therefore encouraged to work together in a mutually beneficial way that still answers to the spirit of the GCCR’s intent and requirements.
Each program is already responsible for articulating its own SLOs as a part of the regular review and assessment process. These general program SLOS are required for SACS accreditation. For the GCCR, now each program will need to review their SLOs to make sure that composition and communication outcomes are appropriately articulated as a part of the overall program goals. Usually this involves a process of internal review by the appropriate program body (e.g. curriculum committee or undergraduate studies committee), articulation of C&C outcomes, and their simple integration into the existing outcomes. If a program already has SLOs specifying appropriate C&C outcomes, no change is needed. If change is needed, language for SLOs can be borrowed and modified between programs. Since these are degree- and program-level outcomes, generally no approval is needed beyond the level of that department or program.
It is hoped that programs will not be required to make formal Program Changes (either major or minor) to accommodate the GCCR. The requirements of the GCCR are explicitly designed to be integrated into existing practices and program structures. The GCCR Advisory Committee will actively work with programs to help with this integration. In those cases where a Program Change is required in order to accommodate the GCCR, a special “fast track” process will be used during the implementation period in order to facilitate limited GCCR-specific modifications, such as updating curriculum tracks or modifying course requirements within a major or program.
Faculty choosing to submit a course for GCCR approval will do so by completing a GCCR Review Submission Form and attaching a copy of the course syllabus with GCCR assignments highlighted. The Review Submission Form will ask programs to specify the courses, resources, and mechanisms being used to meet the requirements and the assessment expectations. During the initial implementation period leading up to fall 2014, GCCR courses will be submitted manually to the Advisory Committee in electronic document form (.doc or .pdf) for review by the committee. As the process is refined and improved, it will migrate to become a part of the eCATS curriculum proposal system in the same way that other specific curriculum proposals are integrated into that platform (e.g UK Core, Distance Learning).
Faculty who are developing or teaching courses for the GCCR can get help from UGE Transformative Learning's Presentation U - either with individual consultations or as a part of the Faculty Fellows program. Faculty fellows work together for three semesters with Presentation U’s team first to redesign their syllabi, integrate appropriate multimodal composition and communication instruction and assignments, and develop grading rubrics; second to pilot their redesigned course; and finally to assess its success and make adjustments as warranted. Each Presentation U Faculty Fellow is awarded an honorarium for their efforts. See more details on the Presentation U website.
Review and approval of GCCR courses will be overseen by the GCCR Advisory Committee. This senate-level committee includes members representing a broad cross-section of undergraduate colleges offering Bachelor’s degrees. The GCCR Advisory Committee will review the materials for each submission and consult with faculty to answer questions they might have, or to request revisions.
For questions or concerns, contact any of the GCCR committee members including co-chairs Scott Yost, Civil Engineering; and Jane Jensen, Educational Policy Studies & Evaluation and Interim Assistant Provost for Transformative Learning, Division of Undergraduate Education (which includes Presentation U).