Overview: 4 things you need to know

  1. General Education Maps and Markers (GEMS) – An initiative of the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), GEMS desires to a) develop General Education pathways aligned with today’s students and 21st century outcomes; b) highlight the latest evidence about technological innovations that help students learn; c) advance assessment strategies anchored in students’ authentic work; c) promote proficiency, project-based learning, and inquiry-based learning; and e) disseminate research about practices that advance equitable student learning outcomes.
  2. GEMS promotes 5 design principles for General Education: 1) Proficiency; 2) Agency and Self-direction; 3) Integrative Learning and Problem-based Inquiry; 4) Equity; and 5) Transparency and Assessment. Deliberate inclusion of these design principles into General Education programs will “empower all students to develop their capacities through meaningful problem-based work as part of an intentional, coherent, engaging, and integrated educational experience.” (2016,
  3. When coupled with VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education), the two AAC&U initiatives, GEMS and VALUE, are transforming undergraduate education by “remapping” general education. Authentic student work (i.e. student learning experiences, capstone projects, and portfolios) is at the heart of this effort, refocusing educational assessment and accountability on demonstrable student work and achievement and less on traditional degree credits.
  4. During application, GEMS is “the connective tissue” between Outcomes defined by ongoing LEAP initiatives, Essential Learning Outcomes, and Lumina’s Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP), and Assessment as defined by VALUE rubrics.

Learn more

Texas GEMS Guided Pathways program featured nationally,

AAC&U Launches Initiatives to Advance Transformative Change in General Education and Student Learning Assessment. American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).

General Education Maps and Markers: Designing Meaningful Pathways to Student Achievement. American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).

AAC&U’s General Education Maps and Markers: A Brief Background. Paris, David.

MEDIA: America’s Unmet Promise and The Equity Imperative. GEMS research group podcast focused on equity-mindedness in programs and practices.

General Education Maps and Markers (GEMS). American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). Multiple articles available on this site.

Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) – The Next Era of Work: Conversation with Council of Colleges of Arts & Sciences (CCAS) Board of Directors. Downloadable PDF.

Additional Resources in Texas

LEAP Texas GEMS Pathways Project

Led by the North Texas Community College Consortium and the University of North Texas, a resource for Guided Pathways to a 4-year degree in Texas. Visit A description of the LEAP Texas GEMS Pathways Project, a presentation, and the template used for the guided pathways reveal more about this exciting project.