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Cluster One:

Skills for the 21st Century (9 credits)


Cluster One Coordinator: Gretchen Hazard 

Cluster One brings together the basic skills in reasoning, writing, and oral communication. Since ancient times, these skills have been recognized as the fundamental skills of educated persons and responsible citizens. Cluster One specifically emphasizes the critical knowledge and skills that students learn through the study of human discourse, argumentation, reasoning, and persuasion. As students examine issues they gain insight and understanding that knowledge rarely develops in isolation but within a larger interactive, and often complex, context. Cluster One also responds to the contemporary need for effective information literacy within diverse contexts of human communication and decision making.

Cluster One consists of nine credits covering three areas, Critical Thinking, Human Communication, and Writing. Students complete one course in each area and the courses may be taken in any order. The MREST information literacy competency exam is a non-credit carrying requirement.

If a student seeks to re-take any Cluster One course for repeat-forgive (having earned a D- or higher) or to take a second critical thinking class, he or she must have permission from the cluster one coordinator. If you are an upperclassmen that needs a permission into a cluster one course for Spring or Summer please contact Gretchen Hazard ( Upperclassmen will not receive a permission to enroll in a cluster one class in the fall unless there is an available seat during open enrollment in September. 

Learning Objectives

Course Options

After completing a Critical Thinking course, students should be able to:

  • Evaluate claims in terms of clarity, credibility, reliability, and accuracy
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify, analyze and generate claims, arguments, and positions
  • Identify and evaluate theses and conclusions, stated and unstated assumptions, and supporting evidence and arguments.
  • Apply these skills to one's own work and the work of others.

BUS 160 Business Decision Making in a Modern Society

HIST 150 Critical Issues in Recent Global History

ISAT 160 Problem Solving Approaches in Science and Technology

SMAD 150 Mediated Communication: Issues and Skills

PHIL 120 Critical Thinking

PHIL 150 Ethical Reasoning

After completing a Human Communication course, students should be able to:

  • Explain the funadmental processes that significantly influence communication.
  • Construct messages consistent with the diversity of communication purpose, audience, context, and ethics.
  • Respond to messages consistent with the diversity of communication purpose, audience, context, and ethics.
  • Utilize information literacy skills expected of ethical communicators.

SCOM 121 Fundamental Human Communication: Presentations

SCOM 122 Fundamental Human Communication: Individual Presentations

SCOM 123 Fundamental Human Communication: Group Presentations.

After completing the Writing course, students should be able to:

  • Analyze and evaluate texts to identify their argumentative, credible and ethical elements; students should also be able to reflect on civic responsibility as it relates to written discourse.
  • Develop and support a relevant, informed thesis or point of view that is appropriate for its audience, purpose and occasion.
  • Demonstrate and understanding of writing as a series of steps involving invention, research, critical analysis and evaluation, and revision for audience, purpose and occasion.
  • Effectively incorporate and document appropriate sources to support an argumentative thesis or point of view; exhibit control over surface conventions such as syntax, grammar, punctuation and spelling that are appropriate for the writer's audience, purpose and occasion.

WRTC 103 Critical Reading and Writing

  • Information Literacy
    • Recognize that information is available in a variety of forms including, but not limited to, text, images, and visual media.
    • Determine when information is needed and find it efficiently using a variety of reference sources.
    • Evaluate the quality of the information.
    • Use information effectively for a purpose.
    • Employ appropriate technologies to create an information-based product.
    • Use information ethically and legally.

Madison Research Essentials Test