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Students can identify the major factors that influence a country’s decision to declare war.

Students can distinguish between science and pseudo-science.

Tips to Develop Program Goals and Outcomes

Fill in the blanks. When students graduate from our program, they should know ____, be able to ____, and value ____.

Consider two types of goals: those unique to the discipline and those that expand on general education outcomes, such as communication skills and information literacy.

Review materials from similar programs and adapt relevant segments.

Consider “best practices” guidelines from professional organizations or accrediting agencies and adapt these to your program.

Try a “top-down” approach. Use documents that describe your program to identify your goals and outcomes. Examples of such resources are catalog copy, mission statements, program brochures, and accreditation reports.

Try a “bottom-up” approach. Review instructional materials, such as syllabi, assignments, tests, and texts. Look for faculty expectations, either explicit or implicit, for knowledge, skills, and values that students are expected to develop.

Ask for input from important stakeholders, such as students, alumni, and employers. What do they believe that students should know, do, or value by the end of the program?

Describe the ideal graduate of your program. Ask these questions: “What does this person know? What can this person do? What does this person care about?”

Involve as many of the program faculty as you can. Encourage faculty to explain and defend various perspectives, either anonymously or in open meetings.

Do not avoid learning outcomes that appear to be difficult to assess, particularly if they are important outcomes. Focus on what faculty believe are the most important outcomes for students to achieve.

Possible Learning Goals

Institution-Wide Goals

Program-Specific Goals

Breadth: Humanities, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Natural & Physical Sciences

Civic Responsibility, Values, and Ethics

Communication Skills

Computer Skills

Critical Thinking Skills and Habits

Global Awareness

Historic and Aesthetic Sensitivity

Information Literacy

Intellectual Flexibility

Interpersonal and Teamwork Skills

Knowledge Integration

Lifelong Learning Skills

Multicultural Understanding

● Understanding the theories, concepts, and research findings of the discipline.

● Using appropriate methodologies to develop knowledge and to examine questions within the discipline.

● Applying what was learned to relevant phenomena.

● Being aware of ethical issues and adopting ethical standards within the discipline.

● Being aware of and adopting major values that professionals within the discipline share.

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