Enhanced General Education

Enhanced Curriculum

The Enhanced General Education program is shown below. The state mandated core forms the bottom of the pyramid and provides the basic knowledge students need to be successful. Moving up the pyramid, students take one 3-hour credit course in each of the following areas: Creative Thinking, Information Literacy, Human and Cultural Diversity. Moving up to the next level, students take a course in Ethical Reasoning and Civic Engagement. Finally, every student's undergraduate experience is completed by taking a High Impact Practice course. These could be experiences such as internships, community engaged learning, undergraduate research, education abroad, capstone courses, and collaborative learning.

Enhanced General Education graphic

All courses above the state mandated core should be capped at 45 students per grader and designed using resources from the Center for Teaching and Learning (CITL), the GEC, the Office of High Impact Practices & Undergraduate Research (HIPUR), the Library, and the Undergraduate Council (UGC). Each course is required to have multiple writing assignments and include standardized student learning outcomes as well as opportunities for students to learn problem solving and critical/analytical thinking. Finally, majors can certify their core requirements as general education courses, providing further curricular space for students. 

It is important to note that Enhanced General Education assignments should make up at least 15% of the overall points for the course to ensure the student learning outcomes are truly embedded in the course.

State Communication & Computation

Formerly known as "Gordon Rule" these requirements are broken down as follows:

  • State Communication - 12 credits
    • 6 credits of English
      • 3 credits from state required communication course (ENC 1101)
      • 3 credits from course with English prefix: AML,CRW, ENC, ENG, ENL, LIT
        • Note: USF has chosen to use ENC 1102 to meet this requirement
    • 6 credits of of coursework "in which the student is required to demonstrate college-level writing skills through multiple assignments." (FLDOE Rule 6A-10.030
      • Each institution determines which courses meet this requirement. At USF, this is noted with course attributes: 6AC, 6ACT, 6ACM, 6ACP
  • State Computation - 6 credits
    • 6 credits of mathematics coursework at the level of college algebra or higher
      • 3 credits should come from the state approved mathematics course list
      • 3 credits may be from applied logic, statistics, or other computation coursework not in a mathematics department.
        • Each institution determines which courses meet this requirement. At USF, this is called Quantitative Reasoning and noted with course attributes: 6AM, 6AMT, 6AMM, 6AMP


This level of the pyramid contains the fifteen (15) credits from the state-mandated core, the additional three (3) credits of state-mandated communication (see above), and the additional three (3) credits of state-mandated computation (see above).

Intellectual & Practical Skills

Students must take three (3) credits in each of these areas. Each area has a set of standardized indicators of achievement from which faculty must choose two (2) to include in the course. Besides including two General Education indicators of achievement, all courses in this tier must also include Critical & Analytical Thinking, Problem Solving, and meet the state-mandated communication rule (see above) requiring multiple college-level writing assignments.

Creative Thinking

1. Demonstrate responsiveness within an established disciplinary context to new information, experiences, and ideas through a process of re-evaluating the ideas and/or approaches.

2. Create an original contribution within a specific discipline.

3. Evaluate the limitations imposed on any new approach or solution within a discipline to propose original contributions to problems.

4. Synthesize disparate or conflicting thoughts when evaluating questions/problems to form cohesive and collaborative solutions.

5. Break Down complex problems to examine, propose, and support potential solutions, even if those solutions deviate from acceptable, mainstream solutions.

Information + Data Literacy

1. Use research tools and indicators of authority to determine the credibility of sources, while identifying any legal and ethical restrictions placed on the use of information.

2. Critically interpret quantitative evidence (such as graphs, tables, charts) in order to identify false claims, incorrect use of evidence, or contradictory statements.

3. Contribute to scholarly conversations using discipline-appropriate communication in different modalities, such as local online communities, guided discussions, undergraduate research journals, and conference presentations/poster sessions.

4. Revise submitted coursework by integrating new sources of information and determining relevance of existing sources.

5. Critically compare and contrast opposing claims regarding the same fact or hypothesis, when the various sides are credible according to discipline-specific indicators of authority.

6. Summarize the key changes in scholarly perspective over time on a particular topic within a specific discipline.

7. Formulate questions for research based on information gaps or on reexamination of existing, possibly conflicting, data, then use the questions as a guide to organize information in meaningful ways.

Human and Cultural Diversity*

1. Demonstrate the ability to see issues from the perspective(s) of other groups/cultures by describing the values and communication styles found in groups different from one's own and the way in which those differences can affect styles of verbal and nonverbal communication.

2. Define personal values and beliefs using appropriate language and communication methods that consider others' points of view and respect differences.

3. Analyze how diversity affects interactions with major societal institutions (such as health care, criminal justice, education, employment, voting, military) from contemporary and/or historical perspectives.

4. Weigh options/planned actions (such as policies and practices) to formulate possible solutions to reduce inequality and disparities in access and success in major societal institutions (such as health care, criminal justice, education, employment, voting, military).

5. Analyze the ethical, social, and environmental challenges of global systems to formulate possible solutions regarding international cooperation and collaboration.

*Courses certifying under Human and Cultural Diversity are also required to select two global student learning outcomes from the Global Citizens Project.

Personal and Social Responsibility

Students will take a three (3) credit course in Ethical Reasoning and Civic Engagement (ERCE). Courses in this tier of the Enhanced General Education at the University of South Florida should center on student engagement with global and national problems with relevance to the Tampa Bay area (defined by the broad county boundaries whence USF draws the majority of its student population: Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota counties) with national and global significance as defined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The fundamental goal of the ERCE is to help prepare students for their public lives as citizens, members of communities, and professionals in society. Among the basic requirements of the ERCE are for students to demonstrate an understanding of their own values, an ability to articulate those values, and express their reasoning as to why they hold these values. Students will also demonstrate awareness of – and respect for – competing values. Moreover, students will express their values in action within our communities in a process of positive civic engagement.

Each course in the ERCE area should be interdisciplinary. Interdisciplinary courses are characterized as follows: "of or pertaining to two or more disciplines or branches of learning" (OED), as determined by the GEC, whether through their assessment of expressed course design or instruction by two or more faculty. The General Education Council recommends that each course in the ERCE involve a substantial portion (20% or more) of class time engaged with problems in the Tampa Bay area. It is also recommended that each course in the ERCE be certified for the Global Citizens Award (GCA). 

As with courses in the Intellectual & Practical Skills tier, courses certifying as ERCE must include the following standardized student learning outcomes:

GCA Student Learning Outcomes (required if course is not certified (or certifying) as a GCA course)

  1. Students will be able to evaluate the impact of individual choices on local and global communities.
  2. Students will be able to communicate ideas and information to diverse audiences.

ERCE Indicators of Achievement (must choose three)

  1. Students will demonstrate the capacity to collect data within and apply explanatory and predictive models to local communities.
  2. Students will connect and extend knowledge (facts, theories, etc.) from their own academic fields of study to civic engagement and their own participation in civic life, politics, and government.
  3. Students will demonstrate the ability to comprehend, express, and adapt to ideas based on others' perspectives.
  4. Students will work across and within community contexts to achieve a civic aim.
  5. Students will independently and accurately apply ethical perspectives and concepts to ethical questions or civic projects as appropriate and demonstrate the ability to consider the full implications of this application.
  6. Students will demonstrate an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities.

Integrative and Applied Learning

Students will take a three (3) credit High Impact Practice (HIP) course. HIP courses are those that include active learning practices that have been shown to increase student engagement and retention. While there is a large list of HIPs available from AAC&U, the General Education Council has decided to focus on six areas:

  1.  Internships
  2. Community Engaged Learning
  3. Undergraduate Research
  4. Education Abroad
  5. Capstones
  6. Collaborative Learning
  7. Field Study

Each area will have its own requirements, and faculty are strongly encouraged to work with the corresponding office for each area (1-4) during course creation and certification. Regardless of in which HIP area a courses chooses to certify, all HIP courses must include all of the following Indicators of Achievement:

  1. Students will engage in meaningful critical reflection in required coursework.
  2. Under professional oversight, students will utilize contextually-appropriate behaviors, tools, techniques and/or dispositions.
  3. Students will integrate discipline-specific knowledge into the contextualized experience.
  4. Students will synthesize discipline-appropriate learning via a culminating assignment.