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.

Critical, Creative, Collaborative thinking, and Problem solving

Sanzio_01_Plato_AristotleOur next question of the week survey addresses the outcome, “Students will use critical, creative, and collaborative thinking to solve problems and achieve common goals.” Share your input on our brief survey here,  https://sites.stedwards.edu/seugened/fall-faculty-feedback-schedule/ and/or join us for a live discussion on Friday, November 21, 3:30-5 pm in Fleck 305.

Please note that you can take this survey and all others at any point during Fall 2014, by visiting the Surveys and Events page of this website: https://sites.stedwards.edu/seugened/fall-faculty-feedback-schedule/

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.

Spiritual and Cultural Perspectives


Our next question of the week survey addresses the outcome, “Students will identify and analyze one’s own spiritual and cultural perspectives and demonstrate respect for other’s views and values.” Share your input on our brief survey here,  http://stedwards.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9Gr71p55wbmS7CB and/or join us for a live discussion on Friday, November 14, 2-3:30 pm in Fleck 314.

Please note that you can take this survey and all others at any point during Fall 2014, by visiting the Surveys and Events page of this website: https://sites.stedwards.edu/seugened/fall-faculty-feedback-schedule/

Preliminary Results: Communication (oral, written, visual)?

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

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


  • Write with correct grammar along with decorum, style, and audience awareness
  • Create a resume and cover letter; business oriented reports
  • Learn MLA format
  • Growth in effective speaking, writing clearly, and creativity
  • Ability to convey a narrative visually and in multiple modes
  • Demonstration of competence of these skills in foreign language for majors
  • Support researched arguments
  • Write and speak fluently and persuasively in a variety of contexts

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


  • Papers, journal assignments, resumes, mock interviews
  • Required General Education first-semester course/First Year writing program
  • Scaffold, sequenced, and cumulative assignments across the 4-year curriculum with shared rubrics and outcomes
  • 15-20 student maximum in these courses
  • An oral communication center
  • Cross-over with the majors

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.

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.