Why do students need Gen Ed courses?
What are General Education Courses?
The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU), defines the General Education (GNED) Requirement in Appendix C of the Minister’s Binding Policy Directive, Framework for Programs of Instruction (2009) as follows: “The purpose of General Education in the Ontario college system is to contribute to the development of citizens who are conscious of the diversity, complexity, and richness of the human experience; who are able to establish meaning through this consciousness; and, who, as a result, are able to contribute thoughtfully, creatively, and positively to the society in which they live and work. General Education strengthens student’s generic skills, such as critical analysis, problem solving, and communication, in the context of an exploration of topics with broad-based personal and / or societal importance” (MTCU, Framework for Programs of Instruction, pg 21).
The Framework also requires that programs of study (diploma and advanced diploma) must include a minimum of three (maximum of five) GNED courses. Durham College Certificate, Ontario College Certificate, Graduate Certificate and Apprenticeship programs are exempt from the requirement, and inclusion of GNED courses into the program of study is optional.
General Education Themes
GNED courses are intended to engage students in learning that exposes them to at least one discipline outside their main field of study and increase their awareness of the society and culture in which they live and work. The MTCU GNED requirement outlines five course themes that must be followed when developing GNED courses. General Education courses provide a broad theoretical overview of a topic of personal and/or societal importance covering the following five themes:
- Arts in Society
- Civic Life
- Social and Cultural Understanding
- Personal Understanding
- Science and Technology
General Education Course Development
New GNED course proposals must be submitted to the General Education Proposal and Course Review Committee for review and approval. Typically, the School of Interdisciplinary Studies will issue a call for GNED course proposals in the winter semester, as course inventory dictates. The Committee will assess submissions based on subject area, proposed curriculum and perceived interest to students and then make recommendations for development.
Following GNED course approval from the General Education Proposal and Course Review Committee, a faculty member may develop the course outline and curriculum (e.g. learning activities, assessments, presentation material). The Centre for Academic and Faculty Excellence (CAFE) offers faculty support in course outline development. Course outlines are uploaded to WebCOT for final approval.
The CAFE recommends using the Jump-Start model for GNED course lesson planning, learning activities and curriculum. This model ensures an evidence-based practice of designing courses that emphasizes the use of activities to engage the student, the presentation of a manageable amount of information, the opportunity for students to practice it, and then the consolidation of learning before moving on to the next unit of study.
General Education Resources
To support both course development and the annual review of course outlines, the CAFE offers several resources:
- General Education Information for Faculty
- General Education Quality Course Checklist
- Writing Course Learning Outcomes
- Essential Employability Skills
- General Education Video - Why do I need Gen Ed courses?
General Education Policy and Procedure
The Durham College policy and procedure (ACAD 103/103.1 – General Education) is the responsibility of the Office of the Vice-President, Academic. All GNED courses are offered through the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, with direction provided by the General Education Proposal and Course Review Committee.