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Explore courses make up the majority of a student’s coursework in the University Studies Program (USP). Explore courses are designated XC (explore culture), XL (explore lab science), XM (explore mathematics), or XS (explore society). There may also be designations for ES (Ethnic Studies) or GC (Global Citizenship), which are university requirements. Many aspects of the USP are useful to your EXPLORE course instruction. These include an emphasis on essential learning outcomes, the liberal arts, high-impact practices, and information literacy.

Sample Syllabi

The following are actual syllabi used by instructors for their Explore Courses, They have kindly shared their work for our use with their permission.

Course Development

What makes an Explore Course?

In Explore courses students engage in the EXPLORATION of disciplinary ways of knowing. Students explore the question of knowledge itself by (1) engaging in the critical examination of disciplinary content, (2) modeling skills and strategies used to explore that content, and (3) cultivating a methodological approach to accumulating, processing, and applying knowledge. Students explore knowledge of Nature, Culture, and Society as delineated in the UW Oshkosh Essential Learning Outcomes. The divisions within the College of Letters and Science (Fine and Performing Arts, Humanities, Math/Science, and Social Science) are linked to and identified with the following categories:


Students explore the physical and natural world, mathematics, life forms, scientific explanation, and/or the environment in courses in mathematics and lab sciences (Math/Science Division).


Students explore human thought, its intellectual foundations, and/or creative expression in courses in the Humanities and the Fine and Performing Arts Divisions.


Students explore the past, political communities, local and global social relations, diversity, and/or rights and responsibilities in courses in the Social Science Division.

High Impact Practices

High impact practices in the USP include a Freshman Year Experience, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, and community-based learning. These practices place a strong emphasis on critical inquiry, frequent writing, information literacy, collaborative learning, and other skills that develop students’ intellectual and practical competencies. Learn more from the AAC&U chart of High Impact Practices.

Information Literacy

In their first semester students complete Comm 111 and/or WBIS, which are courses that address Information Literacy. In your paper and speech assignments you may wish to reinforce expectations for full source citations, selection of academic sources, differentiation between primary and secondary sources, etc.

Learning Outcomes

A student learning outcome is a statement that describes what the student will know or be able to do after completing a course or program of studies. To find out which essential learning outcomes are treated by your Explore course you may check the USP Course Approval Form. Follow this link to get instructions for finding completed USP forms on a campus computer. Your explore course should have its own specific student learning outcomes, which are not necessarily the same as the USP’s essential learning outcomes. When determining these other learning goals, it is important to keep assessment in mind. Each student learning outcome should contain an element that can be measured, either quantitatively or qualitatively. Specific, measurable variables can be helpful. As you design your course, you may wish to

  • Check the grading criteria for assignments and the components of the overall class grade with the student learning outcomes.
  • Consult with other members of your department, especially those who have also taught the same course.
  • Refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy Action Verbs as you think about student learning outcomes.
  • Visit the University of West Florida’s quick-and-easy guide to writing student learning outcomes.