What is General Education?

The phrase “General Education” refers to the educational foundation of skills, knowledge, habits of mind, and values that prepares students for success in their majors and in their personal and professional lives after graduation. This educational foundation is developed primarily through the Core Curriculum, a set of general education course requirements that all students, regardless of their major, must meet. At Nicholls, most students complete their general education courses by their junior year.

Core Curriculum Course List 2019-20

Nicholls Core Curriculum - New General Education Program

The Nicholls State University community is beginning to think about general education in a new way!

As we develop the new program, we will post updates here and invite you to give feedback, comments, and suggestions. Contact General Education Program Coordinator Kaisa Young at

More info on our new program below:

What courses will students take in the new program?

Students will still be able to choose from a wide variety of courses across many disciplines. Just like in our current program, bachelor degree students will complete the 39 hour general education program by taking breadth of knowledge classes in our core curriculum including:

  • 6 hours of English Composition
  • 6 hours of Mathematics
  • 3 hours of Fine Arts
  • 9 hours of Humanities
  • 9 hours of Natural Sciences
  • 6 hours of Social/Behavioral Sciences

What is different about the new program?

The new program is centered around 5 Core Competencies: Communication, Critical & Innovative Thinking, Ethical Reasoning, Information & Technology Literacy, and Quantitative Reasoning. Students will encounter and practice these competencies in all of their general education courses across the disciplines.

Why change?

The goal of general education at Nicholls is to create intellectually curious, productive citizens who can contribute to the culture, society, and economy of the Bayou Region regardless of their major or future career. To achieve that goal, the general education program combines exposure to an array of worldviews through breadth of knowledge courses with integrated practice of Core Competencies.

Integrating the Core Competencies across the disciplines allows students to apply what they know in different contexts, building skill and flexibility. Developing Core Competencies also prepares students to meet the needs of employers in the modern economy, making general education immediately relevant and practical.

Learning Outcomes and Rubrics for the Nicholls Core Competencies 

These outcomes and rubrics were developed in 2018–19 by multidisciplinary teams of faculty, staff, and students at Nicholls. 

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  • Communication (DRAFT)
    • Students will be able to communicate effectively by applying rhetorical principles and appropriate methods based on audience and genre.
    • Communication Rubric
  • Critical & Innovative Thinking (DRAFT)
  • Ethical Reasoning (DRAFT)
    • Students will be able to define their knowledge of ethical reasoning and demonstrate the necessary skills to recognize ethical issues in proper context and in a variety of settings.
    • Ethical Reasoning Rubric
  • Information & Technology Literacy
    • Students will be able to locate, evaluate, use, and communicate information and/or technology within a legal and ethical framework based on specific needs.
    • Information & Technology Rubric
  • Quantitative Reasoning

Core Competencies Feedback – Fall 2019

We want your feedback on the core competency learning outcomes and rubrics! Please leave your comments here.
  • Leave blank if you wish to give anonymous feedback.

The General Education Committee is reviewing courses to determine if they fit the criteria for the new competency-based gen ed program. Faculty should submit the following documentation for every course proposed to count for general education credit.
Review the new Nicholls Core Curriculum Assessment Plan for additional information.
Assessment Ideas from the Fall 2019 CAFE Panel.

Program Objectives

The General Education Program develops and fosters

  • foundational skills in critical thinking, creativity, and communication, including information and technology literacy
  • an understanding of the natural and social worlds in which we live
  • an awareness of the importance of the past and a familiarity with the cultural movements that have shaped the present
  • an appreciation for the artistic and philosophical expressions of the human community
  • the exercise of moral reasoning, ethical choices, and social responsibility
  • intellectual curiosity, independent and life-long learning
  • informed and tolerant perspectives of intercultural and international issues and challenges

Core Curriculum

General Education Information and Forms for Faculty

  • Every general education course syllabus must (1) identify the course as a Gen Ed course; (2) identify the general education goals and objectives met by the course; (3) demonstrate how those goals and objectives will be met through clear alignment with the course student learning outcomes; (4) demonstrate how the Gen Ed student learning outcomes will be assessed.
  • Faculty teaching Gen Ed courses should integrate as many of the core proficiency skills within the course as applicable and possible. The goals and most of the objectives of Effective Communication, Quantitative Reasoning, and Computer Literacy.
  • Criteria for all General Education courses at Nicholls are:
    1. If prerequisite courses are required, they should be another General Education course.
    2. The courses do not narrowly focus on those skills, techniques, and procedures
    specific to a particular occupation or profession.
    3. Courses must cover General Learning objectives for the relevant General Education area.
    4. General education courses should provide an introduction to a discipline, as in a survey course that covers a wide range of material within a specific discipline or area of inquiry and acquaints students with a broad section of the information or skills available in that area, or an appreciation course that introduces students to a creative field and leads to a general understanding and appreciation of work by others.
    5. Courses that are “repeatable for credit” will not be accepted in the General Education Core Curriculum unless approved through GEC.
  • Where a menu of choices exists within the core curriculum, departments and programs will decide which of the GER courses in each area will be required of its majors.

Faculty Responsibilities and General Education

Nicholls faculty supports the General Education Program by providing quality instruction and by the following activities essential to a dynamic assessment program:

  1. Identifying the general education goals and objectives promoted by the general education courses that they teach on their syllabi;
  2. Explaining the role and the value of general education and how the courses general education goals relate to their students’ academic majors and to their lives after graduation;
  3. Informing students about the assessment methods utilized in their courses;
  4. Working to include activities or experiences that promote the general education core dispositions of personal values, ethics, social responsibility, and international and diversity understanding;
  5. Collaborating with other general education faculty and with the General Education Committee in identifying and applying effective methods of assessment;
  6. Reporting assessment results and sharing use of results with general education faculty in their discipline, department heads, and assessment coordinators, and with the General Education Committee;
  7. Supporting the recognition of exemplary general education faculty by the University.

Forms for Adding or Removing Course from the Gen Ed Core Curriculum

Click link to download.

General Education Goals and Objectives


(These goals and objectives comply with the requirements for general education at Louisiana colleges and universities set by the Louisiana Board of Regents and also with accreditation criteria set by SACSCOC.)

Core Proficiency Skills

  • Effective Communication
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Computer Literacy

Effective Communication

Goal:  Upon completion of their degree program, students will be able to effectively use the English language, writing and speaking with clarity, coherence, and persuasiveness.

Rationale: Basic college-level proficiency in writing is to be achieved by successful completion of a 6-hour writing sequence and is to continue to be developed by the required 3-hour writing-intensive course, as well as by the integration of writing as a tool of inquiry throughout the major. Oral competency is to be specified by each degree program from a list of approved courses. Oral communication skills should continue to be developed within the major.

Learning Objectives for Effective Communication in Writing

Students will be able to

  • Use the standard diction, grammar, and mechanics of American English
  • Apply fundamental strategies such as invention, drafting, revising, editing for their writing projects
  • Adapt writing to specific purposes, contexts, and audiences
  • Employ conventions appropriate to academic and professional writing
  • Develop a controlling idea or thesis for the writing project
  • Develop effective organizational strategies
  • Arrange supporting details coherently
  • Employ a variety of sentence structure, using effective coordination and subordination
  • Construct logical and persuasive arguments
  • Locate, evaluate, and synthesize primary and secondary sources into presentations without falling into plagiarism
  • Document sources in at least one standard style of documentation

Learning Objectives for Effective Communication through Speaking

Students will be able to

  • Apply basic principles of rhetorical communication, especially those related to analyzing audience and purpose
  • Generate, evaluate, and organize material for effective oral presentation
  • Deliver effective oral presentations in a variety of communication settings, using standard diction of American English
  • Speak clearly and project the voice sufficiently, employing appropriate verbal and nonverbal strategies
  • Utilize visual aids effectively
  • Lead and participate effectively in group discussions
  • Apply active listening skills in interpersonal settings

Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics

Goal:  Upon completion of their degree program, students will be able to comprehend and to use quantitative concepts and methods to interpret and to critically evaluate data and to effectively problem-solve in a variety of contexts demanding quantitative literacy.

Rationale: This six-hour core requirement provides the opportunity to use mathematics as an essential quantitative tool of analysis, but, more importantly, to provide a foundation for the development of quantitative reasoning. Because quantitative reasoning is an essential skill in all disciplines, all degree programs should ensure that students continue to develop their quantitative literacy. Upon graduation, students should be able to apply basic mathematical methods to solve real-world problems.

Learning Objectives for Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics

Students will be able to

  • Perform calculations with integers, fractions (rational numbers), decimals, ratios and percents
  • Use arithmetic, algebraic, and/or geometric and statistical methods, to solve applied and word problems
  • Demonstrate understanding of the terms and symbols used to generate, present, and analyze data
  • Interpret and evaluate quantitative or symbolic models such as graphs, tables, units of measurement, scales, distributions
  • Represent and communicate quantitative or symbolic information
  • Generate and apply conclusions based on pattern recognition


Computer Literacy

Goal:  Upon completion of their degree program, students will be able to demonstrate competence in computer literacy, including fundamental concepts of computing and fluency in the use of contemporary computing and information technology.

Computing and informational technologies grow and change at a very rapid pace. Therefore, a firm grounding in the foundational concepts of computing in information technology must be achieved. These foundational concepts will be applied through the use of contemporary hardware, software, and network infrastructure. At Nicholls, all students must achieve competency in computer literacy to enable to them to access, to interpret, and to apply information that facilitates learning and critical inquiry.

Learning Objectives for Computer Literacy

Students will be able to

  • Effectively organize, manage, and present data, using contemporary software applications such as spreadsheets, word processing, databases, and electronic presentation software
  • Store and retrieve data from locally (e.g. from within the computer, a CD-ROM, or USB drive) or remotely (e.g. via a network virtual drive, FTP service, or WebDAV service)
  • Understand the relationships of key components behind concepts such as hardware, networks, data storage, operating systems, and software programs

Breadth-of-Knowledge Areas

  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities
  • Natural Sciences
  • Social Sciences

Fine Arts: The Aesthetic Experience

Goal:  Upon completion of their degree program, students will have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the creative process, the pleasures and challenges of artistic expression, and the role and value of the fine arts in society and culture.

The Fine Arts requirement provides students with the opportunity to explore and to value aesthetic creation and form as an essential means of conceiving and expressing the human experience.  The specific learning objectives are further developed and broadened through the opportunity to participate in or to attend cultural and artistic events on campus.

Learning Objectives for the Fine Arts Requirement

In at least one area of the fine arts, students will be able to

  • Depending upon the nature of the course, demonstrate an understanding of the history of one art form or describe the historical, political, or social context out of which a notable category of work arose
  • Recognize the techniques or forms used in at least one form of art
  • Articulate the difference between the aesthetic values of two historical periods, cultures, or civilizations
  • Identify and evaluate the influence of artistic achievement in society and in their personal lives

The Humanities: Cultural and Historical Understanding

Goal: Upon completion of their degree program, students will have a richer understanding of the human condition through investigation, appreciation, and evaluation of the aesthetic, historical, philosophical and literary dimensions of human experience.

Rationale: The general education humanities courses offer students a means for understanding the human condition through the study, appreciation, and evaluation of the ways that intellectual and aesthetic endeavors have shaped and continue to shape human culture and experience. Because these dimensions are expressed through written texts and artifacts, students sharpen their reading, interpretative and analytical skills as they develop a critical understanding of cultures and traditions different from their own. Study in the humanities also encourages a thoughtful examination into the nature of rational inquiry itself and into the values, ethics, and the moral dimensions of private and public life.

Learning Objectives for the courses on the Humanities list

Students will be able to

  • Evaluate contemporary issues and/or historical problems within the discipline’s contexts
  • Employ a wide range of methods for recording and explaining the human experience
  • Demonstrate awareness of cultural practices and how being from a particular culture affects experiences and values


Learning Objectives for the Humanities history requirement

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the central events and institutions of world civilizations
  • Describe and analyze the historical, political, economic, and cultural impact of the West on other areas of the world
  • Apply historical knowledge to evaluate contemporary issues or problems


Learning Objectives for the Literature Requirement

Students will be able to

  • Analyze and construct clear and well-supported interpretations of literary texts
  • Demonstrate a familiarity with central forms and genres of literature, as well as with basic critical terminology and approaches used to analyze these forms and genres
  • Understand how literature reflects, interacts, and influences society, history, and culture
  • Demonstrate a familiarity with a range of influential works and authors from various time periods and from Western and/or non-Western contexts
  • Recognize and describe, by example, how literature provides the opportunity for intellectual and imaginative participation in various modes of human thought and values, not necessarily their own, thereby offering the opportunity for growth in self-knowledge and in reflection on their relationship to others and to the world around them.

Natural Sciences: Scientific Reasoning and Understanding

Goal:  Upon completion of their degree program, students will be able to comprehend and to apply the basic principles of science and methods of scientific inquiry.

Rationale: Through exposure to both the biological sciences and the physical sciences, students will develop a greater understanding of how science is the process of understanding natural phenomena. Students also need to be familiar with the vocabulary and methods of science so that they can understand and value the importance of scientific inquiry in the world around them and be better prepared to evaluate and to utilize new information and technologies. General education science courses further develop students’ critical thinking skills by encouraging open-mindedness and a reasoned understanding of the nature of evidence and the methods of acquiring and testing it.

Learning Objectives for Scientific Reasoning and Understanding:

Students will be able to

  • Differentiate among facts, laws, theories, and hypotheses
  • Define major concepts, principles, and fundamental theories in at least one area of science
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic terminology in at least one area of science
  • Formulate a hypothesis, given a simple problem or questions, and design a valid experiment to test it
  • Make informed decisions on contemporary consumer or social issues demanding scientific literacy

The Social and Behavioral Sciences: The Individual and Society

Goal:  Upon completion of their degree program, students will have developed a deeper understanding of the relation of self to world through investigation of the influence of social, cultural, economic, and political institutions in shaping human thought, value, and behavior.

Rationale: The social and behavioral sciences are made up of the disciplines that use the methods of scientific inquiry to understand human behavior and the interrelationship of human experience and societal, political, and economic systems. Study in these fields enhances students’ awareness of the interdependent nature of individuals and societies and thus better equips them for thoughtful participation in a democratic society. Study here also encourages greater sensitivity to differences among people. However diverse the specific disciplines are in this category, they all investigate group differences–whether economic, ethnic, psychological–and thus expose students to significant issues of cultural diversity. Finally, like all breadth-of-knowledge areas, study in this category requires students to examine their pre-conceptions about the world and to interpret and analyze logically.

Learning Objectives for the Social and Behavioral Sciences Requirement:

In Social Science courses, students will be able to

  • Define key terms within the discipline
  • Explain main concepts within the discipline
  • Analyze the discipline’s core principles

In Behavioral Sciences (Psychology) courses:

  • Students will be able to identify the basic approaches and theories used within psychology.
  • Students will be able to identify psychological principles and research used to explain social issues, solve problems, and understand individual behavior.
  • Students will be able to share the key values of the discipline which includes human diversity and appreciation of their civic, social, and global responsibilities regarding the limits of their psychological knowledge and skills.