General Education: A Revitalization

Eric Amsel
Associate Provost: Academic Programs and Assessment

Nov. 7, 2017

Weber State's general education revitalization effort refers to new requirements to support student understanding of the connections between their Gen Ed courses. The goal of revitalization is to make the Gen Ed program more meaningful and coherent by having students regularly exercise common general academic, intellectual and learning skills in each Gen Ed class.   

General Education as Cross-training

If students’ majors are seen as training for success in their academic, professional and personal life, the revitalized General Education program can be seen as cross-training for the same goal.

To be effective, cross-training requires practice. We expect that exercising general skills over the dozen or so Gen Ed courses that students complete at Weber State, they will develop a habit of mind for using the skills in all kinds of situations. The result is a stronger student who is a deeper learner and more likely to be academically successful.

New Requirements: BQs and SAs

Beginning in fall 2019, faculty are being asked to create a big question (BQ) for their general education classes (see definition and example) that creates a broader context for the content being taught in the course. This alone will help students better understand the broader value of the content that they are learning in a given course. Faculty can create BQs for their section, or share department- or area-wide BQs.  

Also in fall 2019, date faculty are being asked to require a signature assignment (SA) in their general education class (see definition and example). A SA requires students to exercise a variety of general academic, intellectual and learning skills by integrating and applying course content in particular ways to a significant personal, social or professional question or issue. Although faculty can weigh and grade the assignment as they see fit, the SAs will also be assessed for specific general education learning outcomes (GELOs).

Get Involved

The 2017-2018 academic year is a time of rolling out the revitalization requirements. If you are teaching Gen Ed and are interested in piloting a big question and signature assignment in your class, email Molly Sween ( or Leigh Shaw (, who will connect you with other faculty engaged in the rollout process.

There is a good chance that a colleague in your department or college has begun piloting BQs and SAs (Pilot 1 Team) or that you know somebody who has been integral to the revitalization process (General Education Revitalization Rollout Team, GEIAC).

Feel free to reach out to any of these team members if you have questions or want to discuss potential BQs or SAs that you could implement in your Gen Ed course(s).

Do you have questions or comments about this article? Please contact Eric Amsel at