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Explore courses make up the majority of a student’s coursework in the University Studies Program (USP). Explore courses are designated XC (explore culture), XL (explore lab science), XM (explore mathematics), or XS (explore society). There may also be designations for ES (Ethnic Studies) or GC (Global Citizenship), which are university requirements.

Many aspects of the USP are useful to your EXPLORE course instruction. These include an emphasis on essential learning outcomes, the liberal arts, high-impact practices, and information literacy.

High Impact Practices

High impact practices in the USP include a Freshman Year Experience, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, and community-based learning. These practices place a strong emphasis on critical inquiry, frequent writing, information literacy, collaborative learning, and other skills that develop students’ intellectual and practical competencies. Learn more from the AAC&U chart of High Impact Practices.

Information Literacy

The AAC&U defines information literacy as, “The ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively and responsibly use and share that information for the problem at hand.” Instruction librarians at Polk Library are actively involved in assisting instructors and students with concepts related to information literacy. The library offers both synchronous and asynchronous resources to help students meet information literacy outcomes.

In their first semester students complete Comm 111 and/or WBIS, which are courses that address Information Literacy. In your paper and speech assignments you may wish to reinforce expectations for full source citations, selection of academic sources, differentiation between primary and secondary sources, etc.

Learning Outcomes

A student learning outcome is a statement that describes what the student will know or be able to do after completing a course or program of studies. To find out which essential learning outcomes are treated by your Explore course you may check the USP Course Approval Form. Follow this link to get instructions for finding completed USP forms on a campus computer.

Your explore course should have its own specific student learning outcomes, which are not necessarily the same as the USP’s essential learning outcomes. When determining these other learning goals, it is important to keep assessment in mind. Each student learning outcome should contain an element that can be measured, either quantitatively or qualitatively. Specific, measurable variables can be helpful. As you design your course, you may wish to

  • Check the grading criteria for assignments and the components of the overall class grade with the student learning outcomes.
  • Consult with other members of your department, especially those who have also taught the same course.
  • Refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy Action Verbs as you think about student learning outcomes.
  • Visit the University of West Florida’s quick-and-easy guide to writing student learning outcomes.

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