Student Learning Outcomes and Assessments

Student Learning Outcomes and Assessments


The general studies program is an interdisciplinary program that educates and empowers students to become (1) effective written communicators and (2) critical thinkers.
The operational definitions of these outcomes are taken from the Educational Testing Service materials which are part of their Proficiency Profile exam. The Proficiency Profile is used to assess student learning outcomes in writing, reading, critical thinking and mathematics.
Expected Outcome: Effective Written Communicators
Students will achieve measurable learning in the following ways:

  • Recognize the most grammatically correct revision of a clause, sentence or group of sentences
  • Organize units of language for coherence and rhetorical effect
  • Recognize and reword figurative language
  • Organize elements of writing into larger units of meaning

Expected Outcomes: Effective Critical Thinking (Critical Thinking, Reading, Mathematics)
Students will achieve measurable learning in the following ways:
Critical Thinking

  • Distinguish between rhetoric and argumentation in a piece of nonfiction prose
  • Recognize assumptions
  • Recognize the best hypothesis to account for information presented
  • Infer and interpret a relationship between variables
  •  Draw valid conclusions based on information presented


  • Interpret the meaning of key terms
  • Recognize the primary purpose of a passage
  • Recognize explicitly presented information
  • Make appropriate inferences
  • Recognize rhetorical devices


  • Recognize and interpret mathematical terms
  • Read and interpret tables and graphs
  • Evaluate formulas
  • Order and compare large and small numbers
  • Interpret ratios, proportions and percentages
  • Read scientific measuring instruments
  • Recognize and use equivalent mathematical formulas and expressions

The general studies program is assessed for college-level competencies at both the course level and the program level. Every general studies course is not individually assessed, but rather selected learning activities tied to broader learning contexts are assessed. A general studies course such as U.S. History assesses student learning on a variety of expected outcomes, including specific content for the course as well as the broader areas of reading and critical thinking. The course level assessment, in turn, supports the overall programmatic assessment of the general studies competencies. The programmatic assessment of the general studies program is discussed below.
Proficiency Profile Exams
In broad scope, the ETS Proficiency Profile is useful for assessing the general studies program at the program level. The Proficiency Profile is administered to rising juniors and is intended to assess the accumulation of competencies acquired over the duration of the general studies program. This test measures proficiency of academic skills such as reading, writing, critical thinking and mathematics in the context of the general studies program without assessing course-specific knowledge. The University regards the scope and diversity of its general studies program as preparing students to become effective communicators and critical thinkers who can read, write, and think logically and compute effectively. Use of the Proficiency Profile allows for general studies program programmatic assessments in Reading, Writing, Critical Thinking, and Mathematics. The Proficiency Profile is administered in a pre- and post- format with entering students taking the exam in their first semester and again after approximately 45-60 hours of earned credit.
Proficiency Standards
To assess whether the student can identify the conventions of standard written English using prose passages, the University uses the following Proficiency Goal: Fifty percent (50%) of students should score at or above the 50th percentile to achieve the desired proficiency level on the appropriate Proficiency Profile sections assessing written communication, critical thinking, reading and mathematics.

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