UELO Discussion Summary: Communicate (oral, written, visual)

UELO: Students will communicate effectively through oral, written, and visual forms.


There are experts who can teach the theory around these communication skills, but best practice is if every faculty member on campus sees themselves as writing, speech, visual instructor. They should do disciplinary fine-tuning.  Students should learn the conventions of different disciplines.

Importance of applied experiences: students need to be able to adapt those skills in today’s general world.

“Take on your digital world”

These skills need to be integrated across courses and vertically infused throughout the curriculum.

Concerns and Needs

There is a chauvinism for words; it is important that they master visual language.

Currently, the general education courses function as additional inoculation sites for communication skills.  These needs to show up in their majors, as well.

We need to do more to integrate general education in the major.

Best Practices

  • Write then do a digital story.
  • At Alverno college in Wisconsin, they collect work at every level and it goes to the office of assessment.  Students are building portfolio of work and see their progress.  Importance of measuring growth.
  • E-Portfolio: Use it for every class, so students are able to see how they are growing across their career. (reflection)
  • Oral defense of thesis.
  • Senior thesis or signature work, but one that is in line with capstone needs.
  • Bring gen ed into major capstone.

Preliminary Results: Information, Quantitative, and Visual Literacies?

Students will demonstrate information, quantitative, and visual literacies in a variety of contexts.

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


  • Thoughtfully separate the “wheat from the chaff”
  • Informed consumers of information to distinguish science and pseudo-science
  • Discover, assess, and discriminate “big data” information
  • Evaluate credibility of research source
  • Interpret and translate quantitative data to functional and attractive visual designs
  • Understand complex messages in visual design
  • Articulate views with appropriate references, clarity, and confidence

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


  • Embedding opportunities in critical visual and information analysis across courses
  • Within Capstone
  • Research projects across the curriculum
  • Visual Art classes
  • Numerical and Information Literacy within Math and Science courses
  • Portfolio
  • Combination of off-campus resources, on-campus professors and student research

UELO Discussion Summary: Information, quantitative, and visual literacies

UELO: Students will demonstrate information, quantitative, and visual literacies in a variety of contexts.


Discussion focused on the necessity of integrating these literacies across the curriculum and vertically throughout the curriculum.  One course is not enough for a student to develop literacy.  Instructors should consider these as threshold concepts rather than skills to be ticked off.

Skills and literacies need context to make them meaningful.

Transfer is important: students need to be able to transfer literacies developed in one course to another course where they can continue development.

Interdisciplinary, project-based learning was suggested as an avenue.  This is also a good mission fit: preparing students to be problem solvers and change the world.  This kind of interdisciplinary work is a St. Edward’s tradition.

Visual literacy is a 21st century skill.  Students work more naturally in images than we did.

We are beyond a text only world.  We need to take their natural skill and make it conscious.

We need to develop multiliteracies.  See this article: New London Group. “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures.” Harvard Educational Review 66, no. 1 (1996): 60–92.

The idea isn’t that every class hits every outcome; it should arise naturally.

Concerns and Needs

Students seem to have forgotten literacies learned earlier in the curriculum.  We need a common vocabulary.  We need campus wide dialogue to work on identifying threshold concepts to equate those terms from different disciplines.  For transfer, too often we place the onus on the student; we need to put the onus on us to make sure we know what is going on in other courses so we know to reinforce it.

Instructors need models for how to do this, practices that can be useful across disciplines, and the research behind them.  Faculty don’t feel confident in all of this.  Will this require huge retraining of the faculty?  One participant suggested, we can test all the faculty to know what level of this skill you should be teaching.

These literacies need to be integrated so they come naturally.  They can’t be compartmentalized.  Students need to see them as an essential learning outcome, rather than a hoop they have to jump through, and then they are done.

Currently, there is a perception that nobody cares about visual literacy. You can’t just check it off for CULF 1319.

Vigor in visual literacy is a challenge because faculty teaching now come from a text-based background.  There is no AAC&U rubric for visual literacy; this is a gap we could fill.

It is scary to think that you would need to do all of this one course.

Best Practices

  • The development of information literacy requires intense, long-term collaboration with the library rather than one library information session.
  • Project-Based Learning: It was suggested that undergraduate research could play a role in achieving these outcomes.  Project-based work helps put skills into practice so they are retained.
  • Reflection and metacognition plays a huge role in making sure these concepts show up in multiple courses.
  • Independent practice:Learners being more inquiry driven on their own, and what do I do when I hit the wall, facilitates research skills, and how do you get what you need, which in turn creates agency.
  • Collaborating between faculty to put together courses that pay attention to transfer of literacies.
  • Curriculum Mapping: SEU has done curriculum mapping of essential learning outcomes in the general education curriculum. Now, we need to now do it in the majors.
  • A multimodal project might tie all of these literacies together.
  • Upper level courses team-teaching.
  • By senior year massive wicked problem projects.

UELO Discussion Summary: Global/Moral Reasoning/Social Justice

UELO: Students will integrate global perspectives and moral reasoning to make personal and professional decisions in pursuit of social justice.

The learning outcome references social justice, so it is helpful to know what people think that concept actually means.  The responses were:

  1. making a difference in our communities
  2. awareness of inequalities
  3. understanding how societal structures produce inequalities
  4. awareness that there is oppression based on identity
  5. understanding the perspectives of groups that are different from our own & how they might be affected by our decisions
  6. when making business decisions, make sure that no harm comes to those affected by the decision
  7. connecting the concept of social justice to globalization, so that it isn’t a U.S. definition of that term

The learning outcome references global perspectives, so it is helpful to know what people think that concept actually means.  The responses were:

  1. understanding how regions developed over time & what issues are important to them
  2. being knowledgeable about other cultures & religions
  3. it is a way of understanding ourselves by understanding others (e.g. how does inequality in South America allow us to better understand inequality in the U.S.)
  4. it needs to be more than just a focus on globalization, which is an important part of international relations, but by no means the only explanation for why countries make certain decisions

Is there a way to integrate these two things in the classroom?  An assignment was mentioned where students talk about the issue of climate change framed by moral reasoning.  However, are such assignments being done consistently in all ethics courses?

Rather than dictating to all instructors that certain topics must be addressed, it was suggested that we allow the specific learning outcome to guide content creation.  The instructor would be aware of the need to embed an assignment or activity within the course to achieve the outcome, but would have flexibility in terms of exactly how to do that.

The CULF 3330 workshops were highlighted as an example of where these two things are being integrated in a meaningful way.  It was noted that students are initially resistant to them because they take place outside of class, but are ultimately glad they participated.  In particular, they appreciate the decision-making structure of the workshop.  I asked why these aren’t done within the classes themselves, and if students could be given the opportunity to participate in more than one.  The response was that it would be difficult to coordinate multiple workshops and doing them multiple times might dampen the impact they have on students, so better to explore other high-impact practices for introducing students to global perspectives.

Another workshop had students play an actor in the Syrian crisis.  This type of role-playing exercise is effective, but it was suggested that it be done in the actual class, so that curricular content can be tied to the activity.  In other words, tighter integration between workshop activities and curricular content is desired.

A project that is done in the International Business course is to have students look at the pros and cons of doing business in an assigned country.

Someone mentioned that we might not actually need courses centered around global perspectives if there were enough workshops and other co-curricular events that educated students.  What are Campus Ministry, the Office of International Education, and Student Life doing in this area?

How do we bring the rich cultures of our international students into this ELO?  We have such a diverse student body that we should rely on our international students as a resource toward achieving this ELO.

The current general education model starts with inward reflection and then moves outward:  self, country, globe.

Is there continuity across the general education curriculum? Could a student complete her studies without encountering these issues?

Problem solving is scaffolded across the curriculum, but is it redundant?  In other words, are students basically doing the same thing in multiple courses (e.g. Dilemmas & Capstone papers).

Do instructors in the major see a benefit to the Gen Ed courses? Business does see value in 3330 and 3331 and ethics.

Should we have ethnic studies majors or minors?

There is value in having non-majors teaching courses because it brings an interdisciplinary perspective.

UELO Discussion Summary: Mental and Physical Wellness

UELO: Students will develop skills to maintain mental and physical wellness.

When asked what exactly was meant by this, the responses included positive coping in times of stress, conflict management, developing positive relationships, physical activity, nutrition, and financial literacy.

There were numerous suggestions for how the content could be delivered:

  1. First Year Seminar in the Major (FYSM) is a one-credit course that already exists, but because it is optional, not all majors actually schedule them.  Those that do usually have a faculty member and ACE adviser team up for the course, which provides practical advice for how to succeed in the major.  We could require this course for all students, and require that time be set aside for issues of mental and physical wellness.  Consistency across all sections would be important.
  2. Create a new three-credit course that also satisfies the “writing intensive” objective.
  3. Courses within the majors that satisfy some aspect of this outcome (e.g. course on environmental policy that has the physical activity of hiking through Wild Basin or course on sexual predators that has the physical activity of self-defense training).
  4. If the plan to have all freshmen participate in LLCs comes to fruition, then deliver the content through them.
  5. Delivering this outcome completely through co-curricular activities, which would be designated.  Students would choose which of these to complete and provide appropriate documentation for advisers.  It was suggested that we look at the system that Pitt has in place.

If we stress physical activities, we need to be aware of the time and space limitations on campus.

Should the outcome be a requirement?