Process & Timeline

NIU Strategic Plan released
May 2007

General education reform identified as a major priority in the “Great Journeys Strategic Plan.”


Curricular Innovations Task Force recommendations
Spring 2008

Endorsed the need for general education review and reform.


Steering committee formed
May 2008

Included 10 faculty, staff, and administrators representing all undergraduate colleges at NIU.


AAC&U General Education Institute transformation
June 2008

Seven-person steering committee participated in the 2008 American Association of Colleges and Universities’ (AACU) General Education Institute.

Two key strategies emerged from the committee’s participation:

  1. Prior to reforming general education, NIU’s baccalaureate goals must be known, and owned, by the university community.
  2. Developing meaningful baccalaureate goals requires that multiple stakeholders (e.g., students, faculty, staff, administrators, employers) be included as collaborators.

Baccalaureate Review Task Force established
September 2008

Composed of 44 faculty and staff representing all undergraduate colleges. NIU President John Peters asked the task force to gather information and propose baccalaureate goals to guide general education reform.


Open forums, focus groups, and online survey
Spring 2009

The task force used multiple approaches to gather input regarding baccalaureate goals.

  • 929 people responded to an online survey
  • 215 faculty, staff, and employers participated in focus groups
  • 149 NIU students participated in focus groups led by fellow students

Three university-wide open forums were held.


Data review and analysis
Summer 2009

Dr. Kristen Myers, NIU Department of Sociology, analyzed the focus group data and reported her conclusions to the task force in June 2009.

Data from the online survey were summarized and shared with the task force by Dr. Greg Long, co-chair.


The Three Cs—Distribution and feedback
Fall 2009

Three reports (executive summary, public report, university report)  describing the work conducted during Spring 2009 were posted on the baccalaureate review web page. Critical thinking, communication, and context were proposed as “The Three Cs."

Rather than assume acceptance, the task force sought feedback. The baccalaureate review web page included an option to provide input. In addition, the original focus group participants were contacted for their response to the proposed goals. Finally, several additional meetings and presentations were held to get feedback from students, faculty, and staff.


Goal revisions
February 2010

Based on feedback obtained during the fall semester, the steering committee revised the Three Cs to include: critical thinking, creativity, and communication. Context was elevated to become the overriding concept upon which all goals and learning outcomes are based.

The task force also developed a purpose statement to guide the review and provide a foundation for further development of baccalaureate goals.


Goal development teams and reports
March 23, 2010

During the Spring 2010 semester, task force members and other university volunteers participated on goal development teams. Led by steering committee members, each team was charged with developing meaningful and measureable student learning outcomes associated with critical thinking, creativity, or communication.

On March 23, 2010 the goal development teams shared their proposals with the task force. Across the three teams, 47 learning outcomes were suggested. Individual task force members submitted an additional 18 learning outcomes. The original goal development team reports are available for review.


Goal refinement
April – August 2010

The steering committee and task force met multiple times during this period to identify the core ideas and concepts contained in the suggested learning outcomes. The working notes associated with these meetings are available for review.


Proposed goals presented to the Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum
September 16, 2010

Baccalaureate review chair, Greg Long, presented the proposed purpose statement, goals, and learning objectives to the CUC for review. The CUC will discuss the goals again during their October 14 meeting.