The CORE is ACU’s general studies curriculum re-imagined. The CORE’s unique courses build upon each other throughout a student’s four years at ACU, providing a clear picture of how God–the Creator of beauty, truth, justice and goodness–has used human beings to participate in expressing these ideas throughout history in art, music, literature, math, and science. Because the CORE empowers students to approach life holistically with a biblical worldview, the result is an educated person prepared for influence in all areas of life, not simply their chosen field.
Matching Curriculum to Mission and Vision
The new course, LIA 101: Covenant, Community, and Commitments, specifically teaches the ACU Core Commitments, covenant and community agreements, offers a brief history of the University and the ACU Liberal Arts Philosophy.
History of the CORE
Statement of the CORE Philosophy
Five Guiding CORE Principles:
2. Collaboration to Classroom Excellence
4. Academic Discipline Cohorts
5. Living-Learning Community
Learning communities stand apart in the discussion of best-practices. As discussed earlier, the learning community is often considered a liberal arts curriculum model, not just a best-practice. Conceived as a model, then, it stands out as being the best researched. Here it is discussed in the context of best-practices.
Learning communities are composed of a group of courses that a discrete group of students complete together. The courses are thematic, and ideally the curriculum is structured to consider the theme across various disciplines (Brownell & Swaner, 2010). The student SM GPs may be assembled according to year in college, major, residence, or any other practical strategy that fits the institution’s goals, vision, and mission. The recommended size is no more than 50 students per learning community. According to Brownell and Swaner (p.13), learning communities are structured with the following goals:
- Increased connection between peers.
- Intellectual risk-taking in classroom discussions.
- Increased student interaction, including out-of-class experiences.
- Increased student ownership of their learning through collaboration.
- Interdisciplinary view of themes, which fosters deeper learning.
Learning communities should be structured using the following highest-impact methods (Brownell & Swaner, 2010):
- Be intentional in linking courses; the courses should be constructed concurrently.
- Tie fist-year seminar to learning community courses.
- Use instructional teams.
- Invest in faculty development to increase interdisciplinary focus. This includes provision of syllabi, pedagogical practice recommendations, and grading rubrics.
Outcomes. Students participating in learning communities, when compared to those not participating, demonstrate higher grades, retention, academic engagement, civic engagement, writing and reading skills, and critical thinking; greater interaction with faculty and peers, and a perception of the campus as more supportive (Brownell & Swaner, 2010).
(Quoted from pp. 75-76 of ACU’s Liberal Arts Task Force: New Curriculum Proposal)