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General Education Learning Outcomes

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General Education Outcomes at Prairie State College
Prairie State College has identified five general education learning outcomes (GELO) that encapsulate the core knowledge and skills we believe equip students to develop personally, as critical thinkers, and as global citizens. General education outcomes assessment examines student learning across all disciplines and programs throughout the college to determine how students experience the outcomes across the curriculum.
PSC’s GELO are:
  • Communication: Students will demonstrate skills for effective written and oral communication.
  • Creative Thinking: Students will think, react, and work in an imaginative way characterized by a high degree of innovation, divergent thinking, and risk-taking.
  • Cultural Understanding: Students will demonstrate a global perspective, the ability to navigate and thrive within diverse communities and workplaces, and an appreciation for the values of diversity, equity, and sustainability.
  • Information Literacy: Students will know when there is a need for information and be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively and responsibly use and share that information for the task at hand.
  • Problem Solving: Students will locate and identify information, determine what problem exists, develop solutions, evaluate results, and extend results to new situations.

The Assessment Council reviews student artifacts from a range of disciplines each year to understand patterns of student learning; then, it collaborates with colleagues across the college to determine how best to share and act on the results. The General Education Outcomes Committee engages in periodic review of the outcomes based upon the results of this assessment and subsequent professional development.

Reports

Assessment Cycle Plan (view PDF)
This proposal is a two-semester collaborative process for assessing the General Education Learning Outcomes (GELO). It will take coordination between the GELO committee, the Assessment Council (AC), the Office of Institutional Research (IR), and faculty from across the college. One semester will focus on creating the sampling plan, conducting scoring, and analyzing results. The AC will have primary responsibility for these tasks. The second semester will focus on conducting and analyzing the impact of professional development, with the GELO committee having primary responsibility.

Communication:
Creative Thinking:
Cultural Understanding: Summary | Full Report 
Information Literacy:
Problem Solving:

 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.

  • Communication
    Students will demonstrate skills for effective written and oral communication.
  • Creative Thinking
    Students will think, react, and work in an imaginative way characterized by a high degree of innovation, divergent thinking, and risk taking.
  • Cultural Understanding
    Students will demonstrate a global perspective, the ability to navigate and thrive within diverse communities and workplaces, and an appreciation for the values of diversity, equity, and sustainability.
  • Information Literacy
    Students will know when there is a need for information and be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively and responsibly use and share that information for the task at hand.
  • Problem Solving
    Students will locate and identify information, determine what problem exists, develop solutions, evaluate results, and extend results to new situations.

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.

If you’d like more information about PSC’s outcomes, please contact Annette R. Dolph, the Outcomes Committee Chair.

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.

Prairie State College’s general education outcomes encapsulate the core knowledge and skills that we believe equip students to develop personally, as critical thinkers, and as global citizens

  • Communication
    Students will demonstrate skills for effective written and oral communication.
  • Creative Thinking
    Students will think, react, and work in an imaginative way characterized by a high degree of innovation, divergent thinking, and risk taking.
  • Cultural Understanding
    Students will demonstrate a global perspective, the ability to navigate and thrive within diverse communities and workplaces, and an appreciation for the values of diversity, equity, and sustainability.
  • Information Literacy
    Students will know when there is a need for information and be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively and responsibly use and share that information for the task at hand.
  • Problem Solving
    Students will locate and identify information, determine what problem exists, develop solutions, evaluate results, and extend results to new situations.

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.