Community Feedback on Draft SLOs & Requirements for Mission Markers & Interdisciplinary Concentrations

In April 2017 GERC surveyed all faculty and key staff on draft student learning outcomes (SLOs) and other requirements for the Mission Markers & Interdisciplinary Concentrations portions of the new general education curriculum.  The survey results can be found  here:  MM.IC.Survey-results-19h1ip4 (Please note that this report includes even numbered questions, Q10 – Q16, because the odd numbered questions were actually just descriptions of each curriculum element.)

St. Edward’s University is in its third year of a four-year general education curriculum revision.  In April 2016 we passed a general education curriculum framework.  In the Fall of 2016 over 80 faculty and key staff worked in Requirement Development Committees to draft the student learning outcomes (SLOs) and other requirements of each element of the curriculum.  In addition to direct SEU community feedback via survey, GERC also gathered input from deans representing the views of their respective schools.  The proposed SLOs and other requirements will be revised according to all of this feedback, then will be brought to Curriculum Committee and Academic Council.

UELO Discussion Summary: Critical, creative, collaborative thinking. Problem-solving.

UELO: Students will use critical, creative, and collaborative thinking to solve problems and achieve common goals.


  • Collaborative thinking is more of a practice than thinking.
  • Critical and creative are different styles of thinking.
  • Problem-solving is the end goal.
  • Teamwork is an important skills that employers want.
  • Interested in producing students who can self-discover roles.  That they have the agency they need to understand how to build the roles themselves.
  • Collaboration: how you work with community groups is also important
  • Importance of solving unscripted problems.
  • Goal-setting as another important skill.
  • Interested in not just problem-solving but also problem-finding, which ties into student-agency.
  • Finding a problem helps prompt creativity.
  • These are not one and done; it has to be repeated over and over again; importance of breadth; not siloed.

Concerns and Needs

We need to give students methods for how to collaborate, and we need to scaffold this. We’re never taught; we are told to collaborate and that collaboration is good.

  • Can we rethink the term collaborative thinking? maybe collaborative practices?
  • Should they be challenged to not play to their strengths?
  • Collaborative projects take a lot of time; critical thinking also takes time.
  • These practices have to be unbundled to measure them.
  • Team-teaching would require training and resources.

Capstone students say they don’t know problem-solving techniques or have never been exposed to them; they have a need for basic problem-solving techniques.  Actually, this is a problem of transfer.  They learn techniques but can’t transfer to other contexts.

Need for common terminology to pull together all the problem-solving happening throughout the curriculum to help students with transfer.  Like the idea of knowing what each other is teaching so that we can build on each other but avoid the formulaic class.  We need to talk about how we talk about things.

  • Maybe there should be a transfer tzar?
  • Should these be the subject of a course?
  • We need gen ed in major and in gen ed courses; there should be cross-fertilization.
  • What if we just developed gen ed skills in the major?

We also need flexibility; transfer students and study abroad should not hindered (by missing part of the curriculum one semester or year).

We are a liberal arts college–that’s what we do–that means we have a gen ed if everything is taught through the major you wouldn’t have interdisciplinary.

Old model: Every semester had to take 1 interdisciplinary studies course; intended to do the integration back in the 70’s. problem was that interdisciplinary courses just created another silo. Then went to cafeteria model (didn’t work); then current model.

About the linked courses–they are so often and scheduling them is so much harder than you would ever imagine; need to be intentional about scheduling them.

We have a lot of focus on critical thinking but not as much on creativity; creative and critical is not the same thing.

We are trying to assess this UELO and it is hard.

Best Practices

  • Collaborative Projects: have video game students making 1 game; have to make each student accountable for a section; someone has to be point person to make sure they are on the same page; there is a way to structure individual responsibility and reporting to the collective.
  • Repeated practice of collaboration skills.
  • We set up frameworks for them.  Here are some rules.  You have to start by assigning roles to teach them that model.  Then they do it themselves.
  • Groupwork: identify roles and frameworks, and let students decide based on strengths and weaknesses.
  • Grade for process.
  • Service learning in women studies courses; comm student going to YWCA; first step is just being of service, then seeing if they can take that next step.
  • Make them do roles they are uncomfortable with because repetitive projects means they have to go outside their comfort zone, e.g., design, society, culture, technology.
  • Team-teaching models collaboration.
  • Students have to synthesize as they are moving between faculty and sections.
  • Problem-solving skills developed in math, software engineering, design.
  • Software engineering; you have a client; you have to figure out what that organization wants.
  • In Capstone and dilemmas; there is studied problem solving techniques.
  • Problem-solving with computers.
  • Would be great to have one place that said what is taught so we could reference in following courses to be able to communicate and encourages transfer.  We need a shared taxonomy without it becoming jargonistic and formulaic: UELO happy hours!
  • Curriculum-mapping: Would each major fill out a chart showing all of these skills in the major?
  • Transfer and scaffolding; establishing freshman year that its important that students take things in a certain order.
  • Maybe linked courses can work against silos; with some common problem-solving
  • Gen Ed linked threads; minors in gen ed
  • 2 new LLCs will be piloted next fall: 100 students taking a theme; will have 100% LLCs in the fall
  • Wheaton College: Connections program (linked courses across divisions)
  • Southwestern: Paideia–1 hour course per semester to work on integration, reflection, e-portfolio
  • AAC&U rubric for creative thinking
  • Richard Florida’s Creative Class–talks about creativity in all professions
  • You can be creative about thinking creatively
  • Science: creative within the rules of science
  • Creative problem-solving: diverge then converge with critical thinking
  • There is a literature of creative problem solving

Preliminary Results: Critical, Creative, Collaborative thinking, and Problem solving?

Students will use critical, creative, and collaborative thinking to solve problems and achieve common goals.

Question 1.  What demonstrable qualities of this outcome should a SEU graduate possess?


  • Ability to work in teams/work collaboratively
  • Ability to synthesize, summarize, and critically assess and communicate material and information
  • Students should be able to complete increasingly complex work that requires critical thinking
  • Ability to write sustained, thoughtful and topically relevant narratives about a range of subjects using clear, standard English usage
  • To listen to many stakeholders and find the most agreeable solutions.


Question 2. Please provide your views on how this outcome can best be achieved in general education and co-curricular programming.


  • Stress more group projects
  • Collaborate with Career and Professional Develop so that students take a strength based inventory which helps to guide their learning
  • Case studies, project based learning, writing
  • Problem solving applied to concrete and current events
  • Develop research guides for specific classes and have guided research class sessions by reference librarians
  • Scaffold projects and approaches to problem solving that require and model multi-disciplinary problem solving.

Preliminary Results: Spiritual and Cultural Perspectives?

Students will identify and analyze one’s own spiritual and cultural perspectives and demonstrate respect for other’s views and values.

Question 1.  What demonstrable qualities of this outcome should a SEU graduate possess?


  • Faith based on action (service to others)
  • Ability to articulate experiences in the classroom and community
  • Ability to listen without prejudice
  • Understanding of, open-ness to various historical, spiritual/religious, traditions/beliefs, cultures
  • Ability to articulate one’s own spirituality while being respectful, appreciative, and knowledgeable of other religions and cultures

Question 2. Please provide your views on how this outcome can best be achieved in general education and co-curricular programming.


  • Academic classes in religious traditions, values, ethics, and practices
  • Workshops/programs on diversity, respect, dignity
  • Events on campus such as mass, devotions, ecumenical services, Christian, Jewish, Muslim…
  • Service hour quota satisfied by study abroad or community outreach
  • Contemporary approaches that consider the effects of the blurring of boundaries and borders due to globalization
  • Deliberate collaboration between first year courses and Campus Ministry
  • Required courses in Theology; components of each course that touch on spirituality/religion and culture

UELO Discussion Summary: Spiritual and cultural perspectives (self and others)

UELO: Students will identify and analyze one’s own spiritual and cultural perspectives and demonstrate respect for other’s views and values.


Discussion focused on developing personal spirituality and developing perspective on diversity in religion and spirituality as separate outcomes.

Specific religious literacies – as content area knowledge – might fall under “Knowledge of liberal arts and sciences”

Religious literacy is different that spirituality, but they are often confused.  This is very holy cross.  There is a tension in some Holy Cross schools, especially in high schools, that leadership of the church want things to be very specific, that this is as Catholic school. One thing the brothers are happy about at St. Edward’s is that we can be spiritual and not necessarily have to be Roman Catholic or even Christians.

Religious literacy can be taught in courses outside of RATS department. And, philosophy professors don’t see their courses as fulfilling that requirement as developing students’ spiritual perspectives.

This is kind of a diversity issue, just as much as religion.

Spirituality is a developmental issue; not the same thing as knowledge about religion.

Catholic perspective: not just us and ourselves, us and God; also us and community

if just doing service not good if you are not reflecting on it.

Need to put this learning into practice with co-curricular, community/civic engagement, or service learning.

Concerns and Needs

Current CULF program is geared towards race, ethnicity, with belated sexuality; pulling religion into diversity courses has been batted around for a decade.

Current conception of CULF focuses on covering certain marginalized groups, rather than talking about the idea of diversity.  Would like to see classes that are proposed to fit the EULO and teach it in their own way, instead of a course based on a master syllabus and master list of topics.

How do you teach 800 students in any kind of consistent way, when you have a bunch of separate courses taught in narrow and deep ways?

CULF courses integrate religious diversity. These courses fulfill cultural perspectives, but we are not getting into spirituality.

The role that religious groups have had in social justice is missing; some of the positive roles that religion has had; there is a hesitancy to talk about religion and spirituality in co-curricular activities (afraid we will make them pray a lot).

Currently, our service hour quota satisfied by study abroad or community outreach.  We need more opportunities for serving.

We need to rethink how we approach diversity; they are a bullet list of groups that you must address instead of the idea of diversity itself.  We have to address all of these marginalized groups.

We need to separate the writing component; not as it is now because 2 courses; research paper course and social problems course.

Core purpose that dilemmas is trying to achieve is important; it is in our mission statement; but sometimes you feel that you are straight-jacketed.  Faculty would embrace those courses more if they could put more of their own personality and experience on those courses.

Students are frustrated by rigidity; we need some structure and flexibility within the structure.s

CULF courses have become ossified. Problems with these courses go away when you give people freedom from the rigidity.

There is a need for broader survey of religions; then students might find some commonality.

Stepping back to demonstrable qualities; we would know it was working if our students who are feeling marginalized are feeling less marginalized.

There can be communication challenges between student life and faculty; assessment of the co-curriculars is a challenge.

Currently: don’t have to do a service learning project to graduate?  Capstone has civic engagement, but this may not mean service.  Cvic engagement in the capstone can range from writing a letter to the editor or go to a human trafficking fundraiser.

Would be reluctant to just require a certain number of hours of service.  It has to be focused, have an educational / learning component, and be assessed.

Shouldn’t we have some sort of mission-guided, gen-ed based service or civic engagement piece?

We need to make sure our students are ready to serve, and that the community is ready to receive our bounty.  Whatever we develop should be very intentional.  Capstone has always been on the border of burdening the community.  We have to make sure that the community is ready to receive our bounty.

It is hard to get international students engaging with american students.  One challenge is that where we have students think about self and others is American experience and dilemmas,

but our international students struggle in those because they assume American knowledge and we have to develop special sections for international students, so they end up getting pulled out and can’t be part of that experience.

Best Practices

  • Every student needs a course in religions survey, world religions, or what is religion (for sensitivity to religious diversity).
  • CULF curriculum: begin by reflecting on self, belief systems and values, then move on to reflect on others’, belief systems, and values.
  • In CULF, respect and familiarity with your own and others’ cultures is the diversity aspect.
  • If a reflection and a maturation is difficult to achieve in the classroom, what about co-curricular activities?  Deliberate collaboration between first year courses and Campus Ministry; maybe a social justice component that encourages students to think through their values systems.
  • Intentionally connecting service work (such as the service work quota) to ethical anaysis or moral reasoning goals.
  • Service learning: connects social and spiritual together when you are doing service work.
  • Civic engagement across the curriculum, in conjunction with moral reasoning; putting it in practice; not just talking about it or doing but connecting the two.
  • Classes that are proposed by professors that fulfill and teach about this UELO in your own way.
  • American experience does a good job at looking at social identity as a role in people’s place in American history.  It teaches the underside of American history.  Though today students have been exposed to it more than they had been when course was designed in 1990.  Forces students to be aware of social identities.  You might lose the result that all students have walked through that gate early in their time at St. Ed’s.   Coordinator could communicate points that are most important and then give people a lot of room.
  • Based on the assessment that we do, CULF courses are working, but those kind of outcomes could be put in other courses.
  • Exposure to American social problems and pushing them to think critically about these and not have a knee-jerk reaction. Additional program assessment shows that we are achieving the stated learning outcomes of the courses.
  • Civic Enagement American Dilemmas – does well the connection between what’s happening in the class and what happens outside of the class.  They do a deliberative selection paper, to have them reflect on their values and the values of the organization they’ll be aligned with.  Scripted journals, group work looking at policy, which helps them understand multiple perspectives.  They know how to navigate news organizations, policy discussions, etc.  Stronger connection between what they’re doing in the class, and how to apply that thinking in their everyday life. There is reflection and scaffolding. Reflection on what they’ll do after the class. Students doing the capstone paper as a group; we have tracked how this experiment worked, and it has worked well.   Individual paper that draws on their values, and what position they will take.
  • Transofrmation in CULF 2321 with civic engagement sections would be a good model to pilot.  They use HEPs.  I think we need some structure, and flexibility within the structure, so that students have a common experience but with some flexibility.
  • Values work in CULF courses addresses the spiritual development issue.
  • We could do a better job of encouraging faculty members to bring student life programming issues into the classroom, e.g., relationship violence campaign.
  • It needs to be a requirement.  You need to do 2 co-curriculars on campus, and you’re going to do it.  Let’s make our courses require co-curriculars.  Getting out of the classroom, and doing something that connects back to the classroom.
  • E-portfolio may be a way to get students to reflect on co-curriculars and how they support this learning outcome.  Eportfolios would make it usefl.  If it is just a requirement, then you need to do two things related to history, two things related to X.  A punchcard approach.  But with an e-portfolio you could do it better, with a reflection.
  • Presentational speaking is required of all majors and students so it is built in diversity
    • 1st speech is about an important person
    • last speech is about a service learning experience
    • extemporaneous topic: is it important to have a faith tradition
  • Service learning: labor-intensive; need a center for service learning.