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Learning Outcomes for the General Education Program

JMU is nationally recognized for having an outcomes-based general education program, rather than one that is organized around required disciplines or content areas. These outcomes, created and periodically revised by our own faculty, indicate what we intend each student to be able to know, do, and understand after completing the respective requirement—no matter which course option he or she completes. In designing the original program curriculum, the faculty grouped logically related outcomes into five areas called clusters. Each cluster is further divided into two or three domains or ways of perceiving knowledge, and each course in a given domain has been designed specifically to fulfill that domain’s outcomes.

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.

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

  • Explain the fundamental 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.

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.
  • 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.

After completing a Human Questions and Contexts course students will be able to:

  • Question their own and others’ opinions about and responses to the world.
  • Apply the methods of the discipline(s) studied to material from the humanities.
  • Identify and evaluate arguments using appropriate concepts and techniques and to formulate logical arguments on the same basis.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of broader cultural, historical, or conceptual contexts of particular issues, ideas, objects, or events- past and present.
  • Experience appropriate humanities events (such as exhibits, films, performances or public lectures)

After completing a Visual and Performing Arts course students will be able to:

  • Explain how artistic works and culture are interrelated.
  • Recognize that the arts are accessible and relevant to their lives.
  • Demonstrate disciplinary literacy (vocabulary, concepts, creative processes) in a major art form.
  • Produce an informed response to the form, content, and aesthetic qualities of artistic works.
  • Experience arts events.
  • Acknowledge relationships among the arts.

After completing a Literature course students will be able to:

  • Generate increasingly nuanced questions (interpretations, ideas) about literature and explain why those questions matter.
  • Use appropriate vocabulary and tactics to analyze specific literary expressions of culture and the relationship between the reader, the author, and text.
  • Define ways that texts serve as arguments and identify rhetorical and formal elements that inform these arguments.
  • Recognize appropriate contexts (such as genres, political perspectives, textual juxtapositions) and understand that readers may interpret literature from a variety of perspectives.
  • Articulate a variety of examples of the ways in which literature gives us access to the human experience that reveals what differentiates it from, and connects it to, the other disciplines that make up the arc of human learning.

After completing Cluster Three: The Natural World, students should be able to meet the following objectives:

  • Describe the methods of inquiry that lead to mathematical truth and scientific knowledge and be able to distinguish science from pseudoscience.
  • Use theories and models as unifying principles that help us understand natural phenomena and make predictions.
  • Recognize the interdependence of applied research, basic research, and technology, and how they affect society.
  • Illustrate the interdependence between developments in science, social and ethical issues.
  • Use graphical, symbolic, and numerical methods to analyze, organize, and interpret natural phenomena.
  • Discriminate between association and causation, and identify the types of evidence used to establish causation.
  • Formulate hypotheses, identify relevant variables, and design experiments to test hypotheses.
  • Evaluate the credibility, use and misuse of scientific and mathematical information in scientific developments and public-policy issues.

Students completing an American Experience course of Cluster Four will be able to identify, conceptualize and evaluate:

  • Social and political processes and structures using quantitative and qualitative data
  • Key primary sources relating to American history, political institutions and society
  • The nature and development of the intellectual concepts that structure American political activity
  • The history and operation of American democratic institutions
  • The history and development of American society and culture
  • The history and development of American involvement in world affairs

Students completing a Global Experience course in Cluster Four will be able to identify, conceptualize and evaluate:

  • Basic global problems
  • Global political, social, cultural and economic systems that shape societies
  • The issues involved in analyzing societies different from one's own
  • Theoretical models used in studying global problems
  • The strengths and limitations of solutions to global problems across and within cultures

After completing Cluster Five: Individuals in the Human Community, Wellness Domain, students should be able to:

  • Understand the dimensions of wellness, the various factors affecting each dimension, and how dimensions are interrelated.
  • Understand the relationship between personal behaviors and lifelong health and wellness.
  • Assess their own levels of health and wellness and understand how these levels impact their quality of life.
  • Identify and implement strategies to improve their wellness.

After completing Cluster Five: Individuals in the Human Community, Sociocultural Domain, students should be able to:

  • Understand how individual and sociocultural factors interact in the development of beliefs, behaviors, and experiences of oneself and others.
  • Discern the extent to which sources of information about the socio-cultural dimension are reputable and unbiased.
  • Evaluate the extent to which the approach to, and uses of, psychosocial research are ethical and appropriate.