Case Studies of Success
Some colleges and universities have adapted the ELOs and added features to showcase program distinctiveness. For example, Clark University's general education program embraces the ELOs but adds a fifth learning outcome: "Capacities of Effective Practice: Including creativity and imagination, self-directedness, resilience and persistence, and the abilities to collaborate with others across differences and to manage complexity and uncertainty." According to the program's webpage, "These are demonstrated by application of knowledge and skills to issues of consequence and by emerging membership in larger communities of scholarship and practice."
In the general education literature, Portland State University is often cited for having an innovative program, in part because they were one of the first institutions to move away from distribution requirements when they adopted reforms in 1993. According to Charles R. White, PSU adopted the following as the statement of purpose for general education: "The purpose of the general education program at Portland State University is to facilitate the acquisition of the knowledge, abilities, and attitudes which will form a foundation for lifelong learning among its students. This foundation includes the capacity and the propensity to engage in inquiry and critical thinking, to use various forms of communication for learning and expression, to gain an awareness of the broader human experience and its environment, and appreciate the responsibilities of persons to themselves, to each other, and to community" (1994, p. 177). From that vision statement, PSU developed the several learning goals, each with attendant strategies (see Appendix J for the text of the "Purpose and Goals for General Education at Portland State University").
Derek Bok presents another list in his widely cited book, Our Underachieving Colleges. Acknowledging that "any useful discussion of undergraduate education must begin by making clear what it is that colleges are trying to achieve" (p. 58), Bok proposes several aims that he considers especially important-the ability to communicate, critical thinking, moral reasoning, preparing citizens, living with diversity, living in a more global society, pursuing a breadth of interests, and preparing for work (pp. 67-81). Although he complains that universities are often fixated on the general education curriculum, Bok's categories could be incorporated into both the learning goals of a general education program and individual majors.
In reviewing the learning goals at other institutions, CCVC members were impressed with the general education program at Alverno College, which also has been lauded for their innovative curriculum. Alverno's core curriculum is based on eight abilities: communication, problem solving, analysis, valuing, social interaction, effective citizenship, developing a global perspective, and aesthetic engagement. After developing the eight abilities as the learning outcomes in the curriculum, Alverno faculty asked how the abilities might look at different levels of a student's progression through college. Based on the desire to think developmentally about student learning, the Alverno faculty articulated six levels of learning for each of the eight abilities (a description of the eight abilities and the corresponding levels is included in Appendix I).
Again, we must emphasize that the goal is not to import another program. These examples are provided to generate ideas that might inform our own revision of the Common Curriculum learning goals. As our timeline indicates, we will host campus conversations and workshops on the learning goals, with CCVC drafting revised general education learning goals for consideration during the spring semester of 2016. Once the faculty approves the vision and revised learning outcomes for general education, CCVC will invite colleagues to submit targeted suggestions for improving the general education program on these campuses. In addition, CCVC will invite campus teams to propose curriculum models based on the learning outcomes and the vision and design principles established in this report (pending an endorsement from the Joint Faculty Senate). The next section of the report describes this plan in detail.