Does my class need to claim an ILO?

No. Our new General Education outcomes are to be Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILO). The expectation from accreditation is that our ILOs be taught and assessed across all programs. This does not mean that they should be taught and assessed in every class. It just means that students in all of our degree programs should get assessed instruction in each ILO somewhere along the way.

This is helpful since it would be hard to teach a meaningful ILO and actionably assess it across a very broad range of courses. The more courses included in an ILO, the less meaningful overlap there will be in curricular content. So, infusing an ILO very widely across lots of courses would either dilute the content of the ILO to the point where it is meaningless or impose an undue imposition on the curriculum taught in many courses that already have full syllabi.

Having meaningful ILOs that reach all of our students is a balancing act. We need to find that cross section of courses that reach all or our students that can also provide meaningful instruction in the ILO. This will not be a huge challenge where an ILO can “piggyback” on existing degree requirements. So, for instance, a Quantitative Reasoning ILO can reach nearly all of our students through the existing QSR degree requirement and through required science classes. An Information and Technological Literacy ILO can piggyback on existing degree requirements for English composition courses. Likewise, to some extent anyway, English degree requirements can carry a Communication ILO. A Cultural Diversity or Social Justice ILO that substantially overlaps with our Diversity Degree Requirement (DDR) will also have a ready-made place in existing degree requirements.

Among the ILOs we are currently considering Critical Thinking is the one clear orphan. This ILO has no ready-made home in existing degree requirements. We will have to build one, perhaps piecemeal, by recruiting a cross section of programs and courses that pretty much reach all of our students. One where a Critical Thinking ILO can be taught in a meaningful and actionably assessable way. This will take time, perhaps also some professional development and curriculum development. Perhaps this outcome can coordinate to some degree with FYS. Perhaps someday we can follow the model of the DDR and implement a Critical Thinking Degree Requirement. In any case, the project we have embarked on with critical thinking is starting with some self-reflection concerning how we operationally define critical thinking in our various disciplines. Next, we will look at how Critical Thinking researchers define critical thinking. Then perhaps we can take a deeper dive into the specific skills and abilities that constitute a well-rounded critical thinking curriculum.

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