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Office of General Education

Council on General Education approved updates to the Common Curriculum Critical Reasoning rubric

On Friday, September 1st, operating within its scope of authority, the Council on General Education approved an update to the Common Curriculum Critical Reasoning rubric.

Critical Reasoning was assessed for the first time in Summer 2021 by the Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness. Following that round of assessment, raters recommended reviewing and revising the rubric, which they found difficult to apply in many cases. A faculty-led committee was charged to review and revise the rubric over the summer.

Further review of the rubric found that although the learning outcome for Critical Reasoning is appropriate to the components (Students will demonstrate university-level critical reasoning proficiencies through written expression), the supporting skills emphasize writing and are nearly identical to the supporting skills for Academic Writing requirement, which has a different learning outcome (Students will develop competency, clarity, coherence, and organization in their writing). Plus, writing is assessed separately under the Academic Writing, Writing, and within the academic evaluation process.

The current design of the Critical Reasoning rubric has functioned as a barrier to the development of courses outside of the Writing and Reasoning Program (WRTR), mainly because of the primary focus on academic writing in the current iteration of the rubric. Therefore, efforts to revise the Critical Reasoning rubric have been joined with this effort to expand offerings in Critical Reasoning beyond WRTR 1313, WRTR 2304, and WRTR 2306.

Common Curriculum course proposal forms and the online rubrics were updated with the newly-approved rubric.

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Office of General Education

Student communications blast off from the Office of General Education

Energy is high on the Hilltop as we welcome students back to campus.

This academic year, the Office of General Education is committed to enhancing the student experience by providing programming to connect students to SMU resources and help them stay on track toward graduation. Plus, we want each student to get the most out of the Common Curriculum.

As we work towards this mission, the Office of General Education has begun student communications to keep all undergraduate Mustangs in the loop of campus offerings.

A quick look at two recent communications sent to all undergraduate students is featured below:

Sender Subject Line Brief Description
The Office of General Education (gened@smu.edu)  Welcome Mustang! Scheduling information about Common Curriculum workshops and pop-ups. A link to Zoom office hours was provided, increasing the accessibility of our services.
Peer Academic Leaders (peeracademicleaders@smu.edu) Ready to PAL around? Let’s connect you with campus resources and more! Information about the Peer Academic Leaders (PALs) program and its various services. Booking.SMU and SMU360 links were referenced.

We hope you may amplify or point students to these communications in your interactions. Specifically encouraging Degree Planner and other programming.

We look forward to keeping you and our students informed throughout the year. Please direct feedback to gened@smu.edu.

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Office of General Education

Meet the new Senior Advisor for General Education and the 2023 – 2024 Peer Academic Leaders

The Office of General Education is excited to welcome our new Senior Advisor and twelve Peer Academic Leaders to the team.

Melina Padron will join the Office of General Education team on Monday, July 24. Padron’s professional experience includes serving as an enrollment counselor and, most recently, serving as an admissions counselor at Arizona College of Nursing.

As Senior Advisor, Padron is responsible for coordinating the Office of General Education’s undergraduate student outreach and timely offering of academic advising to ensure progression through Common Curriculum requirements. The Senior Advisor develops, oversees, and provides Office of General Education programs, initiatives, and student interventions to undergraduate students.

When asked about what excites Padron to join Student Academic Engagement and Success, she shared:

Higher education has always been a passion of mine, especially as a first-generation college student. I am honored to play a role in helping SMU students achieve their goals, both academically and personally. I’m excited to connect students with the great resources SMU offers to help them be successful during their time with us. SMU is a vibrant and diverse campus, and I look forward to joining you all on the Hilltop.

In her role, Padron will also serve as the primary supervisor of the Peer Academic Leader (PAL) program. PALs are a diverse group of undergraduate students to help students better understand the Common Curriculum, utilize academic resources, and navigate academic challenges.

PALs work directly with students in their Residential Commons, empowering them to take ownership of their collegiate careers through mentorship and educational programming.

Get to know the twelve Peer Academic Leaders serving for the 2023 – 2024 academic year. Their headshots, biographies, and assigned Residential Commons are on the Office of General Education’s website.

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Office of General Education SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success University Advising Center

Degree Planner after-action report and advisor incentives announced

Degree Planner was introduced to students at the end of the Fall 2022 semester as a tool that supports the SMU in Four – SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) –SMU’s comprehensive approach to improving retention and four-year graduation rates. 

The Degree Planner in the my.SMU Student Dashboard is a powerful tool that can provide students with a personalized, pre-populated degree plan to help them on their journey to graduation. This degree path provides a sequence of courses that will fulfill degree requirements and can be adjusted regularly to fit their future plans. This differs from the Degree Progress Report (DPR), the authoritative source for graduation requirements. 

Initial adoption efforts focused on the 5,348 Common Curriculum students who matriculated in the fall 2020 semester or after (213 Spring 2023 graduating seniors were excluded). Students received outreach on Degree Planner’s purpose, support with completion, and notification of their progress in a variety of ways: 

  • 1,201 students completed their Degree Planner for all remaining terms.  
  • 1,484 students completed their Degree Planner for the Fall 2023 semester. 
  • 8 Degree Planner Support sessions were held (4 in Caruth, 2 in Hughes Trigg, 1 in Meadows, and 1 Zoom Session)  
  • 7 Blog posts were written introducing Degree Planner, sharing progress, announcing raffle winners (on 2/2/23, 2/13/23, & 3/16/23 ), and general information on Degree Planner  
  • 7 Student emails were sent   
  • 130 Winners were selected in raffles to win prizes for completion of Degree Planner.  
  • To-do tasks were added to students’ My.SMU accounts. These to-do tasks were updated and removed weekly. 

We want to reward the following advisors with $100 Amazon gift cards for having the highest number of advisee completions University-wide: 

  • Dorie Beitchman 
  • Misti Compton 
  • Maria Crouch 
  • Christopher Logan 
  • Jennifer Malone 
  • Barbara Morhle 
  • Jeanene Renfro 
  • Caroline Rydquist 
  • Alyssa Wong 

Special Acknowledgement is also given to Janet Stephens and Alyssa Wong for their efforts in encouraging student completion and advertising our student support sessions.  

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Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success

Brittaney Wilson transitions to the Office of General Education full time

Effective April 17, Brittaney Wilson will transition to full-time at the Office of General Education as the inaugural General Education and Academic Appeals Coordinator.

Brittaney Wilson

Since October 2022, Brittaney has served in a joint Undergraduate Degree Counselor position between the Office of General Education and Meadows Student Academic Services. In this role, Brittaney provided:

  • academic advisement for declared majors,
  • aided in adopting the new Degree Planner tool in my.SMU, and
  • launched new student outreach related to general education to Meadows students.

In her new role as General Education and Academic Appeals Coordinator, she will:

  • support the Council on Academic Petitions (CAP),
  • aid in the development and compliance of Common Curriculum pre-approved programs and organizations,
  • Provide data analysis and marketing to encourage student progress through Common Curriculum requirements, and
  • to develop inter-office agreements and audits for the Office of General Education.

Wilson shared, “Though my time in Meadows Academic Services has been short, I have enjoyed supporting students and working with such a knowledgeable team. My new position offers the opportunity to provide support in a different way.  I look forward to increasing my knowledge of university processes, and continued growth on the Hilltop.”

The Office of General Education and the Meadows School of the Arts are grateful for the collaboration to successfully implement this shared Undergraduate Degree Counselor position pilot program. Due to increased demands on both offices, full-time staff was required. The Meadows Academic Services office will begin serving all Meadows graduate and performance degree students in addition to their long-standing service to the undergraduate population, which requires the addition of a full-time Meadows Degree Counselor.

Please join us in congratulating Brittaney Wilson (brittaneyw@smu.edu).

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Office of General Education SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success

SMU in Four announces final Degree Planner raffle winners

Let’s give a big round of applause to all 758 students who completed Degree Planner before the final raffle deadline! 

For your Degree Planner to be considered complete:  

 Fifty winners were randomly selected to receive prizes courtesy of SMU in Four: 

Amazon Gift Card 

($25 value) 

Target Gift Card 

($25 value) 

Starbucks Gift Card 

($25 value) 

Visa Gift Card 

($25 value) 

SMU Flex Dollars  

($25 value)    

SMU Swag Bag 

($50 value) 

 Skyler H.  Michael G.  Breanna S.  Aaliyah A.  Grace B.  Steven B. 
Sarah B.  Spencer B.   Maya C.  Ria D.  Humberto O.  Daniele D. 
Mirana E.  Sofia G.  Jack G.   Arin J.  Eden C.  Annabelle L. 
Jack L.  Karen L.  Anna M.   Mason M.   Lily L.  Lucy M.  
Regina N.   Abby R.  Riley T.   Carina K.  Ava S.   
Alexander B.  Katie F.  Emma G.  Gracie H.   Tulsi L.   
Karis P.  Megan R.  De’Anna W.  Jaena Z.     
Oscar C.  Braden C.  Ella D.  Savannah H.     
Alexa L.  Matthew M.  Lily S.  Jess S.     
Natalya T.  Owen T.  Sydney B.  Remonda H.     

 Winners can come and pick up their prizes from the Office of General Education, Laura Lee Blanton Suite 100, from Monday, March 20th– Monday, March 27th.   

All Common Curriculum (CC) undergraduate students must complete Degree Planner by March 20.   

Visit smu.edu/degreeplanner for help getting started. 

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Office of General Education SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success University Advising Center

SMU in Four announces 2nd-round winners of the Degree Planner completion raffle  

Forty winners were randomly selected from the one-hundred and eighty students who have fully completed Degree Planner.   

 In order for your Degree Planner to be considered complete, you must have:  

 2nd-Round Winners are: 

Amazon Gift Card 

($25 value) 

SMU Flex Dollars 

($25 value) 

Starbucks Gift Card 

($25 value) 

Visa Gift Card 

($25 value) 

SEAN M.  RIA D.  DEAN L.  CAROLINE S. 
EDEN C.  KAYLEE D.  HANNAH S.  TREVOR B. 
GRANT M.  JEFFREY M.  AUDREY L.  JAYDIN B. 
TAYLOR C.  MARGARET G.  CONNOR M.  TRAJAN C. 
MACKENZIE T.  GRACE P.  AMBER F.  MATTHEW B. 
LILLIAN N.  ALEXA A.  MICHAEL Z.  ANTHONY L. 
GIANCARLOS D.  ZAKIYA C.  JOHN P.  HANNAH L. 
BENJAMIN J.  SILVIA V.  TAYLOR H.  JENNIFER S. 
MAKENNA K.  BIANCA H.  CHARLES G.  CAMPBELL S. 
PIPER J.  ISAIAH B.  SOPHIE E.  ANA M. 

Winners can come and pick up their prizes from the Office of General Education, Laura Lee Blanton Suite 100, from Tuesday, February 14th – Friday, February 17th.  

Still, working on your Degree Planner? No need for FOMO! You have one more chance to win some fantastic prizes! Prizes include $25-50 Starbucks, Amazon, Uber, Target, and Visa gift cards. You can also win Flex Dollars and SMU swag, such as baseball caps, sweatshirts, hoodies, and more!  

The deadline for the final raffle is March 10th at 11:59 pm! 

All undergraduate students on the Common Curriculum (CC) are required to complete Degree Planner by March 20.   

Visit smu.edu/degreeplanner for help getting started. 

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Office of General Education SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success

SMU in Four announces 1st-round winners of Degree Planner completion raffle

Thirty-five winners were selected randomly from the one hundred and thirty-one students who fully completed Degree Planner by the first incentive deadline.

For your Degree Planner to be considered complete, you must have:

 

1st Round Winner are:

Amazon Gift Card

($25 value)

Target Gift Card

($25 value)

Starbucks Gift Card

($25 value)

SMU Swag Bag

($50 value)

Emma S. Victoria A. Hannah N. Jake E.
Mireya S. Grant B. Margaret G. Jonathan K.
Staten M. Jordan F. Pavle B. Hannah S.
Tanner H. Monet M. Sierra B. Madeline K.
Sarah B. Avery E. Jaron T. Ronisha T.
Trajan C. Ella B. Lucy M.  
Michael G. Sophie E. Tiffany D.  
Bahar N. Brittany H. Michelle H.  
Sarah N. Mary-Kate B. Xin Z.  
Jose H. Izabella D. Kaylee D.  

Winners can come and pick up their prizes from the Office of General Education, Laura Lee Blanton Suite 100, from Monday, February 6th– Friday, February 10th.

Still, working on your Degree Planner? No Problem! You still have a chance to win some fantastic prizes! The sooner you complete your degree plan, the more raffles you are entered into. Raffle prizes include $25-50 Starbucks, Amazon, Uber, and Visa gift cards. You can also win SMU swag such as baseball caps, sweatshirts, hoodies, and more! Students who complete Degree Planner by 11:59pm on:

  • February 10 (Friday) will be entered in two raffles.
  • March 10 (Friday) will be entered in one raffle.

All undergraduate students on the Common Curriculum (CC) are required to complete Degree Planner by March 20.

Visit smu.edu/degreeplanner for help getting started.

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Office of General Education SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs University Advising Center University Honors Program

Undergraduate students incentivized to complete Degree Planner

Yesterday, SMU in Four sent email communications to undergraduate students on the Common Curriculum regarding Degree Planner from smuinfour@smu.edu. Student communications were staggered – with tailored communications being sent to declared major students and pre-major students.  

Copies of the communication is below. 

January 18, 2023 

Dear Students – 

Use the new Degree Planner tool, located on your my.SMU Student Dashboard, to plan your path to graduation! This new tool will help you plan not only your upcoming semester, but all courses you will take throughout your college career.    

All undergraduate students on the Common Curriculum (CC) are required to complete Degree Planner by 03/20/2023. [Declared Majors] As a declared major you will complete your degree plan for all declared degree programs and CC requirements prior to Fall 2023 enrollment to avoid enrollment delays. [Pre-Majors] As a pre-major you will complete your degree plan for all CC requirements (Foundations, Breadths, Proficiencies & Experiences) prior to Fall 2023 enrollment to avoid enrollment delays.  

Complete it early for a chance to win some fantastic prizes! The sooner you complete your degree plan, the more raffles you are entered into. Raffle prizes include $25-50 Starbucks, Amazon, Uber, and Visa gift cards. You can also win SMU swag such as baseball caps, sweatshirts, hoodies, and more! Students who complete Degree Planner by 11:59pm on:  

  • January 27 (Friday) will be entered in three raffles.  
  • February 10 (Friday) will be entered in two raffles.  
  • March 10 (Friday) will be entered in one raffle.  

Visit smu.edu/degreeplanner for help getting started or watch the student dashboard video below

—————————————————————————————-

Faculty and staff communications regarding Degree Planner were sent on Friday, January 13th. As promised, Records Offices and advisors will receive email templates to use to encourage student completion in the following weeks. 

Faculty and staff advisors who have the most students complete Degree Planner by the priority deadline of March 20, 2023 will win a $100 Amazon gift card. 

Any questions, comments, and/or concerns can be directed to SMU in Four. 

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Office of General Education

Common Curriculum changes to WiM Proficiency and Experience

 

 

November 7, 2022

Dear Members of the SMU Community:

We are writing to you with important information about changes to the Writing in the Major (WiM) Proficiency of the Common Curriculum (CC) that were made to make it easier to administer and fulfill.

  1. We will be tracking student completion of the WiM Proficiency through program assessment, rather than through DPR tracking.
  2. DPR change will go into effect on November 11 with program assessment change effective Fall 2023.
  3. This change will make it easier for departments to administer and assess this Proficiency and for students to fulfill it.

On September 9, 2022, the Council on General Education approved a proposal to change how the Common Curriculum’s Writing in the Major Proficiency and Experience is tracked on the Degree Progress Report and replace it with program-level Writing in the Major student learning outcome. Below we share the rationale for this forthcoming change, how it will impact CC students and academic programs moving forward, and support that will be offered through this process.

SMU faculty have consistently expressed concern about the challenges of isolating the teaching of Writing in the Major to a single course, since many programs distribute the teaching and practice of writing across a program. For the same reason, students on the Common Curriculum have struggled to find sufficient opportunities to satisfy the Writing in the Major requirement, even when they have spent several courses learning to write in accordance with the parameters of their discipline.  For this reason, effective Fall 2023, we will replace individual tracking of the Writing in the Major Proficiency through course-level tags, and we will instead track it through program learning outcomes and program-level assessment.

On October 21, 2022 the Council approved an implementation plan for this assessment and tracking change, and as a result of this plan, effective Fall 2023, the Writing in the Major Proficiency and Experience graduation requirement be removed from the Degree Progress Report for student-level tracking.

In lieu of DPR level-tracking each academic program will be required, via the Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness program evaluation process, to write and assess one learning outcome that best represents the conventions of writing in their discipline. This will require each program to develop assessments and measures appropriate to their disciplines – many of which can be used from WiM-tagged courses. In this way, students will receive the instruction they need regarding discipline-specific writing, and departments will be able to deliver discipline-specific writing instruction without having to confine that instruction to a single course.  Academic programs that distribute the teaching of writing across the program sequence (which is best practice) would no longer need to place the proficiency tag on every course that delivers writing instruction to ensure students receive the tag.   Instead, they can concentrate on developing student proficiency in discipline-specific writing in the way that makes the most sense for their program.

This approved change and implementation plan honors the true intent of the Writing in the Major Proficiency and values the tremendous work done by faculty to develop WiM-tagged courses, learning outcomes, and assessments. During the transition to this new method of tracking and assessing Writing in the Major, the Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness will work closely with faculty and programs to write discipline-specific learning outcomes for Writing in the Major and to develop appropriate measures to assess this writing.

Questions related to this change can be directed to the Office of General Education at theccmail@smu.edu.

Sincerely,

Sheri Kunovich 

Associate Provost for Student Academic Engagement & Success

Dayna Oscherwitz 

Associate Provost for Institutional Planning and Effectiveness

Dustin Grabsch 

Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education & Academic Success