The Common Curriculum

Learning Outcomes and Assessment 2006-2011

Build Intellectual Foundations

FYP Learning Outcomes. All students should be able to do the following:

  • Discuss ideas: critically and respectfully engage in dialogue with others about ideas in texts as well as those expressed in class
  • Read texts critically: show an understanding of/ability to evaluate complex and sophisticated ideas from multiple and diverse perspectives
  • Develop effective arguments:
    • support a focused thesis, including analysis of evidence to support conclusions
    • organize information logically and clearly in essays that guide readers through the text
    • express ideas clearly and appropriately, with few, if any, grammar, usage, and spelling errors
    • integrate evidence into one’s own argument (e.g., uses quotations appropriately, correct citation, etc.)
  • Incorporate revision into the writing process as a means of improving critical thinking and the expression of ideas

SRS Learning Outcomes. All students should be able to do the following:

  • Develop a research topic. Formulate a clear, focused research question or thesis appropriate to the topic of inquiry
  • Find evidence. Identify and locate evidence appropriate for examining the research question or thesis.
  • Evaluate evidence. Critically and ethically analyze evidence obtained for examination of the research question or thesis.
  • Develop an evidence-based argument. Develop and organize a logical argument grounded in the analysis of evidence that supports or refutes the research question or thesis
  • Present research findings. Present a logical analytical argument supported by evidence in an appropriate written form without errors of grammar, usage, and spelling.
  • Practice professional standards of citation. Incorporate and cite evidence in a manner that meets the professional standards of the discipline most appropriate for the topic of inquiry.

Literature Learning Outcomes. Works of literary imagination play a large and important role within the humanities as a whole, so that every student’s humanities courses must include at least one literature course, through which they should achieve most or all of the following learning outcomes:

  • read critically some of the important works and modes of world literature
  • interpret literature through specific knowledge of literary traditions, literary devices, appropriate terminology, and critical approaches
  • write essays focused on evidence-based arguments that analyze, interpret, and reflect upon works of literature

Quantitative and Mathematical Reasoning Learning Outcomes. Union College’s mission includes the charge to develop in our students “the analytic…abilities needed to become…contributors to an increasingly…technologically complex society.” Understanding this complexity requires a basic ability to reason mathematically (broadly defined), and an appreciation for more advanced mathematical thinking and analysis. Accordingly, all students taking QMR courses should achieve most or all of the following learning outcomes:

  • demonstrate quantitative reasoning
  • comprehend and express problems and solutions using the language of mathematics
  • solve problems that require rigorous logical demonstrations with multiple steps
  • understand and adapt non-trivial algorithms
  • understand and make use of symbolic and abstract representations.
  • Special Instructions
    A description of three sample problems taken from the course. Accompany each problem with an analysis of how the solution requires the student to engage in the type of thinking described in one or more of the goals, followed by the solution itself. Together, your samples should address the goals claimed in Part B. Across the aggregate of the sample problems you may claim that all four goals are addressed, but a strong case for three is preferable to a weak case for all four.

    Courses with QMR content may include, appropriately, a significant number of routine "drill" problems. We understand that the samples you submit will not be of this character, and so may not constitute a representative sample of all problems assigned or tested. At the same time, we expect them to be representative of a significant fraction of problems given to your students. We may ask you to elaborate on this point.

    When you explain the ways in which the solution embodies one of the four goals, please appeal as directly as possible to the specific language of that goal. When you present the solution itself, feel free to use the same technical terms that you would employ in explaining that solution to a student. In other words, strive to be technical where appropriate, without bludgeoning us unnecessarily with jargon.

Laboratory Science Learning Outcomes. General education students should have an understanding of the content and process of natural science in order to become scientifically literate citizens. Students completing a laboratory science course should achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • understand the scientific method
  • know the difference between a hypothesis and a theory
  • know how data are interpreted and hypotheses are formed
  • demonstrate a basic understanding of how science works
  • critically analyze science stories in the media
  • know where to turn if they need to answer a science question/problem.

Explore the Liberal Arts

Humanities Learning Outcomes. The humanities develop analytic and reflective abilities that will enable our students to make future contributions to society in the light of an improved understanding of the cultures of their own world and of the past. The broad range of the humanities includes the study of language, literature, philosophy, history, and the arts (fine arts, studio arts, and performing arts). Across this range, students in humanities courses should achieve the following common learning outcomes:

  • demonstrate a basic understanding of important literary or philosophical texts and traditions, works and styles of art, or questions studied in the humanities
  • show some understanding of the contexts in which these works are most meaningful
  • be able to critically evaluate the best interpretations of these works and the best efforts to pursue the questions arising from them
  • express their own understanding, interpretation, and responses to these works and questions with care, imagination, and self-examination

Social Science Learning Outcomes. The social sciences examine how individuals, groups, institutions, and societies behave and influence one another. Social science courses enable students to analyze and understand interactions of the numerous social factors that influence behavior at the individual, cultural, societal, national, or international level. They use the methods and theories of social science inquiry to develop critical thought about current social issues and problems. As outcomes of a social sciences course, students should:

  • demonstrate an understanding of a selection of social scientific theories and concepts
  • demonstrate an understanding of methods used in the social sciences including the ethical considerations of their use
  • demonstrate an understanding of the types of interactions that occur among individuals, groups, institutions, societies, and/or the natural environment
  • be able to analyze the general structure and operations of groups or organizations in the context of social science
  • be able to analyze social issues and problems in the context of social science

Understanding Science and/or Technology Learning Outcomes. The primary learning outcomes of a course with “significant science or engineering content” or a course designed to “foster understanding of technology” are achieve the following:

  • Think critically by evaluating evidence, results, and claims related to the natural sciences or technology and their impact on broader human or societal issues
  • Demonstrate problem-solving methods used in science and technology. Demonstrate logical reasoning through quantitative analysis (e.g., calculations, programming, graphical analysis)
  • Understand scientific methodology, particularly the development and modification of theory based on observations, as a way of understanding the natural and physical world
  • Apply scientific knowledge, and understand the empirical or theoretical underpinnings of this knowledge. Show an understanding of engineering principles and issues (e.g., design tradeoffs, maintainability, manufacturability, profitability) through the process of design and analysis of why things work (reverse engineering)
  • Special Instructions
    In team-taught ID courses, fundamental science and engineering concepts should be related in an integral way to the broader human or societal issue under consideration. In these courses the science/engineering content should make up at least 50% of the covered material, of the assignments, and of the exams and other projects.

    A description of three sample problems, labs, or other assignments taken from the course. Accompany each with an analysis of how the activity addresses one or more of the goals, followed by the solution itself (or a discussion of the type of materials that would be turned in). SET form.

    It is the view of the Gen Ed Board that for a SET course to meet any of the goals above, it should require that students engage in activities that promote critical thinking and involve students with the appropriate science and technology concepts. If a proposal is for an already existing course, then sample activities should be chosen from ones that have actually been assigned to students, or that have appeared on tests or quizzes. If proposal is for a new course, then sample activities should be ones that realistically will be assigned.

Create Connections Across Boundaries

Linguistic and Cultural Competency Learning Outcomes. For Union students to contribute most effectively to a diverse, global, and culturally complex society, they must be competent in foreign languages and/or become knowledgeable of foreign or unfamiliar cultures. Through study of a foreign language and/or cultural diversity, students should achieve at least one of the following outcomes:

  • demonstrate basic literacy in and understanding of a foreign language
  • demonstrate understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity through study of non-U.S. cultural traditions, of “minority” cultural traditions within the U.S., or of cross-cultural comparison and cultural complexity
  • either or both of the preceding goals, on a term abroad
  • In addition, LCC courses will afford students insights into cultural difference and our common humanity through advanced foreign-language expertise and greater familiarity with other cultures.