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Mar 23 / Thomas Fischer

Learning Outcomes for General Education

As the third phase of our process of re-visioning the General Education curriculum, the General Education Reform Committee (GERC) has prepared a set of learning outcomes that will be used to inform the design of a new curriculum. These outcomes were informed by the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes, a set of outcomes developed by the members of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and used by many institutions to guide their examination and reform of their general education curricula.  This includes a number of institutions in the state of Michigan; Michigan recently became an official “LEAP State” which will help to facilitate cooperation and collaboration within the state. These draft outcomes were aligned with our Guiding Principles for General Education Reform, which were developed from our surveys, focus groups, town halls, and other communications we received from WSU faculty, staff, and students..

Learning outcomes are clear, objective statements of student achievement goals.  They provide the operational definitions for student learning that make curriculum goals clear to all. They allow programs to state in assessable terms “What we want our graduates to know”, “What we want our graduates to be able to do”, and “What we want our graduates to think or care about”

Academic programs adopt learning outcomes for multiple purposes:

  • They allow programs to provide a clear vision to all of common expectations, values, and goals.
  • They facilitate assessment by stating the criteria from which one can objectively measure achievement to determine whether program goals are accomplished.
  • They make clear to students “what they should know”, communicating the purpose of the curriculum.
  • They also provide empirical frameworks for curriculum design, which can proceed in a more systematic fashion when it begins with a clear understanding of our hopes for student learning.
  • Outcomes also help to identify pedagogical strategies and other elements that will help students meet these goals.

As we move into the curriculum design process, we very much wish to hear from the campus community about our draft outcomes.  Do they provide clear statements of the goals we share for our students?  Do they provide a sound structure for our General Education program?  Please share your views either by commenting on this blog, or send us an email at EngagingGenEd@wayne.edu.

For the General Education Reform Committee,

Tom Fischer

Associate Professor of Psychology and committee co-chair

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