General Education’s Remake

WASHINGTON — The academy’s primary liberal education group is working to redesign general education pathways, which it says are becoming obsolete and need to be better grounded in learning outcomes, or competencies.

Armed with a $2.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Association of American Colleges and Universities is leading the ambitious effort. The goal is to “develop a portable and competency-based framework for general education,” the association said in a written statement.

The General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs) project began last month. It will focus on both online and in-person academic programs.

In addition to the general education redesign, the $2.3 million Gates grant is helping to fund a related, ongoing project by the association.

That work, dubbed the Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE), for several years has sought to create ways to test students’ work from across curriculums. It is an attempt to “see how well students are developing the intellectual skills and knowledge they need to deal with open-ended questions and problems – problems to which the ‘right answer’ is not already known,” the association said in a written statement.

Read the entire article by Paul Fain on Inside Higher Ed at

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