In early 2019, the Georgian Court University Faculty Assembly approved revised Undergraduate Student Learning Goals and Outcomes (USLG). Their February 21 action included four goals and outcomes that were part of GCU’s previously approved BRIDGE General Education program, as well as a fifth item related to a student’s major: by the time a student graduates, they should meet their academic program objectives and have completed all requirements.
“These undergraduate learning goals and outcomes replace GCU’s previous 10 institutional learning goals,” said Janet Thiel, OSF, Ph.D., assistant vice president for university assessment, adding that graduate goals and outcomes were approved in 2017. “Overall, our expectations for undergraduate students fall into four key areas—knowledge, both in the liberal arts foundation and in the student’s major area of study; intellectual and practical skills; personal and social responsibility; and integrative learning.”
Why the Update?
“Institutions periodically evaluate their institutional goals as these tie into mission,” said Sister Janet, who also led the university’s recent reaffirmation of accreditation by the Middle States Conference on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Under MSCHE, Standard I requires periodic evaluation of mission and goals. Georgian Court decided that since existing learning goals were aligned with a previous general education program, it was time to articulate learning goals for graduate students (GSLG), and then look at the undergraduate student learning goals.
“It was appropriate to tie in the overall undergraduate student learning goals with the recently defined Bridge General Education goals and outcomes and expand these with the learning in the student’s major area of study,” Sister Janet explained. “Both the USLG and the GSLG are considered GCU’s Institutional Student Learning Goals (ISLG).”
What Every Student Needs to Know
Nationwide, colleges and universities set undergraduate learning goals and outcomes that often include civic knowledge and engagement. GCU, however, requires even more.
“Georgian Court students graduates can reason ethically and demonstrate a clear understanding of our mission and Mercy charism,” said Sister Janet. “And given that we live in an increasingly global environment, our faculty work with students to reinforce a sense of global awareness and respect for diverse cultural perspectives.”
By the time they graduate, Georgian Court undergraduates should also demonstrate effective critical and creative thinking, and must have a solid grasp of written and oral communication skills. The same goes for information literacy, teamwork, and the ability to make connection between experiences inside and outside the classroom.
The revised USLG went into effect for the 2019–2020 academic year. Still, there is more work to do.
“Our next steps are mapping the new USLG to program outcomes and course outcomes/objectives,” said Sister Janet. This will be done in conjunction with the updating of the Program Assessment Plans in coming months.