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Foundational Studies Program

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Philosophy of the Foundational Studies Program
University Learning Outcomes
Foundational Studies Program Requirements
UF Placement for Transfer Students

Philosophy of the Foundational Studies Program

Boise State’s Foundational Studies Program offers an integrated, sequential, multidisciplinary learning experience that illustrates the university’s commitment to undergraduate education from entrance to graduation. The Program’s distinctive features establish the university as a leader in empowering students and enabling them to achieve academic excellence. Foundational Studies Program courses constitute a coherent framework on which departments establish the educational opportunities specific to the needs of their disciplines.

From the time they enter the university, students encounter skilled and motivated faculty members in courses that feature diverse opportunities for examination of historical, intellectual, and ethical traditions. Courses focus on the kinds of inquiry central to a university education, creating opportunities to explore important subjects, ask questions, debate ideas, increase understandings, research, innovate, and solve problems.

The emphasis is on building a foundation for both advanced study and lifelong communication and learning. Courses in the Foundational Studies Program have clearly articulated goals (University Learning Outcomes). A built-in process for robust assessment fosters ongoing improvement. A complete description of the Foundational Studies Program may be found at:

University Learning Outcomes

The eleven desired university learning outcomes (ULOs) listed below ensure that students are repeatedly exposed to the essential soft skills sought in college graduates as well as the disciplinary outcomes important for breadth of learning. These outcomes were developed by the faculty to provide undergraduates with a common experience aimed at unifying the university’s diverse student body and expanding students’ awareness of themselves and their world. Every Boise State graduate is expected to have met these ULOs, regardless of major or baccalaureate degree.

Foundational Studies Program ULOs by Cluster:

Intellectual Foundations

1. Writing — Write effectively in multiple contexts, for a variety of audiences.

2. Oral Communication — Communicate effectively in speech, both as speaker and listener.

3. Critical Inquiry — Engage in effective critical inquiry by defining problems, gathering and evaluating evidence, and determining the adequacy of argumentative discourse.

4. Innovation and Teamwork — Think creatively about complex problems to produce, evaluate, and implement innovative possible solutions, often as one member of a team.

Civic and Ethical Foundations

5. Ethics — Analyze ethical issues in personal, professional, and civic life and produce reasoned evaluations of competing value systems and ethical claims.

6. Diversity and Internationalization — Apply knowledge of cultural differences to matters of local, regional, national, and international importance, including political, economic, and environmental issues.

Distribution Requirements/Disciplinary Lens Clusters

7. Mathematics (DLM) — Apply knowledge and the methods of reasoning characteristic of mathematics, statistics, and other formal systems to solve complex problems.

8. Natural, Physical, and Applied Sciences (DLN) — Apply knowledge and the methods characteristic of scientific inquiry to think critically about and solve theoretical and practical problems about physical structures and processes.

9. Visual and Performing Arts (DLV) — Apply knowledge and methods characteristic of the visual and performing arts to explain and appreciate the significance of aesthetic products and creative activities.

Literature and Humanities (DLL) — Apply knowledge and the methods of inquiry characteristic of literature and other humanities disciplines to interpret and produce texts expressive of the human condition.

11. Social Sciences (DLS) — Apply knowledge and the methods of inquiry characteristic of the social sciences to explain and evaluate human behavior and institutions.

ULOs 1-6 are the soft skills developed throughout the academic career and in multiple courses and contexts. After exposure to these Learning Outcomes in early courses, students revisit them in greater depth throughout their college experiences and academic programs.

ULOs 7-11 are associated with disciplinary course clusters that represent multiple perspectives to be encountered during a student’s academic career. Courses are aligned with the Disciplinary Lens clusters that best match the learning outcomes naturally associated with that course.

Boise State’s ULOs were inspired by the AAC&U’s “LEAP” framework:

Foundational Studies Program Requirements

Introduction to College Writing and Research (ENGL 101 and ENGL 102)

This two semester, six-credit sequence provides an introduction to the university’s expectations about academic writing and research. The program is coordinated by the English Department’s First-Year Writing Program. Students are placed in appropriate courses based on test scores. See College First-Year Writing Requirement in this chapter for details.

Foundational Studies Program (UF) Courses

  • Courses with a UF (University Foundations) prefix introduce a diversity of intellectual pursuits, encourage a critical stance toward learning, and equip students with university-level analytic and communication skills.
  • Intellectual Foundations (UF 100). This academically challenging three-credit course offers entering students a combination of large general sessions and small-format discussion sections (~25 students) during which students explore key questions and topics connected to the world today. Through active learning, students critically engage with text, film and other sources, develop presentations, and build interpersonal communication skills, study and practice teamwork as well as engage in innovative problem solving. Courses support ULOs 2, 3, and 4 the Campus Read.
  • Civic and Ethical Foundations (UF 200). This three-credit sophomore-level course engages students in topics connected to ethics, diversity and internationalization, often through experiential learning. Preview our topics online at: We keep the classes small class (30 students) to support active learning, meaningful discussion, and connecting the course theme to issues and activities in our larger community. Courses emphasize writing (ULOs 1), ethics (ULO 5) and Diversity (ULO 6). Prerequisites: ENGL 102, UF 100, and sophomore standing.

Disciplinary Lens (DL) Courses

All students are required to take a number of disciplinary lens courses. (See degree box for specific requirements.) DL courses are offered by academic departments and designed to expose non-majors to the distinctive methods and perspectives of a disciplinary cluster. The distribution requirement for DL courses reflects the belief of the faculty and the Idaho State Board of Education that a major purpose of undergraduate education is to prepare graduates to fulfill the responsibilities of a citizen and to understand and appreciate diverse approaches to information and values. Disciplinary lens courses are listed in Table 10.4 and are identified with DL in the course description. Some departments and programs require specific DL courses.

Communication in the Discipline (CID) Courses

Students must successfully complete CID credits in courses designated by their major department. CID courses are offered at the 200, 300, or 400-level for those who have successfully completed the College First-Year Writing requirement. The courses focus on written and oral communication as practiced in the discipline and are not necessarily conducted in English. CID courses are listed in the major requirements for each program. All CID courses must be at least 2 credits and are identified by CID in the course description.

Finishing Foundations (FF) Courses

Students must successfully complete capstone (FF) credits designated by their major departments and range from 1-3 credits. Finishing Foundations courses are designated for students close to graduation and they are designed to bridge academic knowledge with applications expected by graduates. They emphasize critical thinking, written and oral communication, plus teamwork and/or innovative thinking. They are identified with FF in the course description.

By the end of the first half of their undergraduate careers, students are expected to have completed ENGL 101 and 102, UF 100 and UF 200, and most, if not all, of the DL requirements.

UF Placement for Transfer Students

  • UF 100 is not required if you:
    • Transfer from a U.S. regionally accredited academic institution and have earned an AAS degree. You are required to complete UF 200.
    • Transfer from a U.S. regionally accredited academic institution and are transferring in 26 credits or more earned academic credit hours from another college or university and transfer in at least three courses that were equated as DL courses with a C- or higher. You are required to complete UF 200.
  • UF 100 and UF 200 is not required if you:
    • Transfer from a U.S. regionally accredited academic institution and have earned an academic AA or AS degree
    • Transfer from a U.S. regionally accredit academic institution and have completed the equivalent of Idaho’s State Board of Education general-education core (but have not completed an AA or AS).

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