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College-Wide Learning Outcomes

College-Wide Learning Outcomes

Information Literacy Core Components

Students who are information literate can…

Formulate Question or Define Task at Hand
Define scope of the question or task at hand, determine key concepts, and identify related concepts

Identify Appropriate Sources
Know how information is formally and informally produced, organized, and disseminated (e.g. scholarly v. popular source)

Differentiate and Use Information-Seeking Tools
Identify appropriate tools for the type of source they are seekingConstruct an appropriate search strategy for the information retrieval system selected (strategies for using a search engine v. a journal database)

Evaluate Information
Determine source's quality, relevance, and perspective

Synthesize
Recognize patterns, draw conclusions, and interpret and connect pieces of information to support the answer to their question

Use Information Ethically and Responsibly
Demonstrate a full understanding of the ethical and legal restrictions on the use of published, confidential, and/or proprietary information

Genaral  |  Outcomes  | Rubrics

Do I have to use rubrics?

Kind of. You don’t necessarily have to use them when you work with your students, but the outcomes committee has devised several rubrics to describe aspects of each outcome. Also, we find valuable the recent work by the American Association of Colleges and Universities that describe students’ undergraduate learning across the curriculum. We hope you will find these helpful as you introduce students to the complexities of the outcomes.

 What are the outcomes?

We want our students to develop personally and as critical thinkers and global citizens. We believe that the five outcomes listed below comprise some important aspects of how we hope to help our students serve in and lead their communities.

Hover over each outcome below for additional information.

  • Communication
  • Creative Thinking
  • Cultural Understanding
  • Information Literacy
  • Problem Solving

How do I know what I am supposed to teach?

Teachers don’t have to cover every outcome in every class they teach. Rather, you might identify one outcome to focus on (see a curriculum map for Information Literacy for a sense of how the outcomes are spread across the college). The best way to think about college-wide outcomes is as a common vocabulary for teachers to use so that students can more easily identify the connections in what they are learning in diverse disciplines. A student who hears her chemistry professor and her philosophy professor describing problem-solving, for instance, will have a richer appreciation for what we value as educators, as well as a fuller and more complex appreciation for what problem-solving means and doesn’t mean.

But doesn’t this emphasis on “college-wide learning” water down my course’s content?

No. Rather, if you use some common language to describe what you are trying to teach, you will be setting your students up to remember and apply what they have learned in your class in new settings and in other disciplines.

Isn’t this just one more educational fad? If I ignore it, will it go away?

There’s no doubt that efforts to cross disciplinary boundaries face an uphill climb. An even steeper climb confronts efforts that try to change the way we talk to our students about learning in our disciplines. But we think using a common vocabulary to talk to students offers much promise to teachers--especially the promise that students will find our classes memorable and relevant.

These common outcomes can also help us to name the value of what we do for our community. In a recent survey of employers (PDF), 93% of employers said that a student’s ability to “think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.” Our democracy will be healthier if our citizens are information literate problem-solvers who can communicate well orally and in writing, and who show cultural understanding and think creatively.

Information for Faculty

In 2007, the faculty at Prairie State College identified a set of outcomes that we hoped our general education courses would help students achieve. In 2009, the Faculty Senate endorsed a list of college-wide general education learning outcomes, and a committee has been working to define and assess each outcome.

In 2013, the Outcomes Committee decided to begin focusing on one learning outcome per semester. For each outcome, we surveyed adjunct and full-time faculty members across the college, devised faculty development plans to support teaching, and worked with faculty members across the college to identify and improve assessment. The committee guides this work, much of which has been carried out by a “disciplinary expert” in each outcome and by the committee chair.

In spring 2014, for instance, we focused on Information Literacy. Carolyn Ciesla, one of our faculty librarians, led workshops on curriculum design and created a curriculum map of information literacy learning outcomes across the college. In fall 2014, we focused on Problem Solving. In spring 2015, we focused on Communication.

At the May 2015 Faculty Development Summer Institute, faculty members from across the college discussed our list of general education outcomes. In fall 2015, the Outcomes Committee reviewed our list of outcomes and the feedback from the Summer Institute and recommended revisions to the list to the Faculty Senate, who adopted the new list (see below) in spring 2016.

Currently, the Outcomes Committee is conducting research on student learning through a project approved by PSC’s Institutional Review Board. We are collecting representative samples of student work and assignments from across general education courses to shape our inquiry and to develop innovative ways to map and narrate what students are learning.

What should you get out of your college classes?

Is graduating from college a matter of checking off a list of course requirements, or can you expect more? At Prairie State College (PSC), we hope to give you more than just a degree; we hope to equip you with a set of skills that you can use to transform your world.

We want our students to develop personally and as critical thinkers and global citizens. We believe that the five outcomes listed below comprise some important aspects of how we hope to help our students serve in and lead their communities.

Hover over each outcome below for additional information.

  • Communication
  • Creative Thinking
  • Cultural Understanding
  • Information Literacy
  • Problem Solving

Each course has its own emphasis, but we hope you’ll see overlap from one type of class to the next. For instance, you might engage in problem solving in your chemistry class and in your philosophy class--they seem like they’d be very different classes, but you are learning some of the same thinking skills in each one.

Why think about what I’m learning?

It’s tempting to think that employers are only looking to hire someone with a degree. Degrees are helpful, but employers really want to hire someone who has learned something from school. For instance, in a recent survey of employers (PDF), 93% of employers said that a student’s ability to “think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.” PSC’s outcomes help you to identify the major things you should be learning across all of your courses.

And the core outcomes can help you succeed in our career programs, too. The chair of Prairie State’s Nursing Department, for instance, has said that students going into the Nursing Program who can problem solve and communicate well will be more successful than those who passed the prerequisite classes but didn’t retain the skills.

We want you to do well in our classes, and we want what you learn here to stick with you for the long term!

Which classes should I pick?

All of our general education classes--the ones that are required for most associate degrees and for transfer to other colleges--cover at least one of the outcomes, so you will be sure to encounter all of them. If you’d like more information about PSC’s outcomes, please contact Jason Evans, the Outcomes Committee Chair.