General Education Reform in New Mexico

provost-dan-howardThe Statewide General Education Steering Committee, which has been meeting for the past two years in an effort to more purposefully incorporate essential skills into the general education curriculum as well as to streamline the curriculum, met for the last time on January 24th. In two years of sometimes twice-a-month meetings, faculty and administrators from across the state have wrestled with the questions of which essential skills should be the focus of general education, what content areas should form the backdrop against which essential skills are taught, what learning outcomes should be expected of students, and how do we meaningfully assess learning outcomes.

The five essential skills were agreed upon relatively quickly, and feedback from faculty across the state has been consistently positive about the choices made by the committee:

  • Communication
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Critical Thinking
  • Information and Digital Literacy
  • Personal and Social Responsibility

Developing a curriculum model proved to be more difficult, and an initial model was discarded based on negative feedback from faculty. The second model, which has been vetted in listening sessions held across the state, consists of 31 credits, 22 of which are distributed across six content areas. The other nine credits can come from those six content areas, as well as other content areas, at the discretion of each institution of higher education. More information is online about the curriculum model and learning outcomes, with the following links and link phrases:

curriculum model
learning outcomes

The new state general education guidelines will be adopted by the New Mexico Higher Education Department this spring and will provide a framework in which to develop a general education curriculum model for the NMSU system. The NMSU General Education Taskforce, which slowed down its work as it waited for guidance from the Statewide Committee, now has the clarity necessary to proceed. I look forward to working with the NMSU Taskforce and the Faculty Senate to develop a robust and purposeful general education curriculum that will provide our students with the training necessary for lifelong learning and success in the rapidly changing workplaces of the 21st Century.

With all best wishes,


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