Community Feedback on Draft SLOs & Requirements for Curriculum Elements

In February 2017 GERC surveyed all faculty and key staff on draft student learning outcomes (SLOs) and other requirements for the Foundations, Content and Contexts, and Culminating Experience portions of the new general education curriculum.  The survey results can be found  here: requirements.survey.results.Report-1ynzxya.

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.

Faculty Meeting Table Discussions

Discussion Questions

  1. Review the commonalities between the 3 curriculum plans.  Do you support these commonalities?  Any comments or questions? (10 mins)
  2. Our next step will be merging the 3 plans.  What strikes you as positive and distinctive within the specific plans?  In other words, what elements of a particular plan would you like to keep? (20 mins)
  3. The models seek to address the St. Edward’s mission and the UELOs.  Do you see ways in which this could be improved? (20 mins)

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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

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.

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