Student Learning Outcomes of the

General Education Program at

University of Wisconsin – La Crosse



The General Education Committee has identified six areas of competencies for students who complete the General Education Program at UW – L.  These competencies represent skills, knowledge, and habits of mind that help students become life-long learners.  The General Education Committee expects that students will be engaged and intentional learners who pursue their education with intellectual curiosity, engagement with ambiguity, and openness to new ideas. The competencies will be developed as they engage in coursework and other experiences that represent a broad liberal arts education.  The competency areas include:

§         Effective Communication

§         Critical Thinking Skills

§         Content Knowledge and the Ability to Integrate Knowledge

§         Aesthetic Perspective

§         Global Perspective and an Understanding of Diversity

§         Responsible Citizenship and Ethical Decision Making

The specific outcomes are defined on the following pages.

Effective Communication Defined:  Components And Outcomes

(Revised 4/28/03)

Upon completion of the General Education program at UW – La Crosse, a student will be able to demonstrate effective Communication skills.  Communication skills encompass the following components:

§     Listening

§     Speaking

§     Reading

§     Writing


Students will be able to:

  1. Comprehend and summarize the purpose and primary train of thought in an oral or a written presentation
  2. Interpret a variety of communication forms (print media, visual media, music, and drama)
  3. Interpret information given in the form of formulas, graphs, tables, and schematics, and draw inferences from them.
  4. State (both in oral and written form) an idea/argument and develop it in logical, organized form, using conventional grammar, punctuation, and formatting
  5. Adopt a tone, voice, level of formality, and mode of discourse (expository, descriptive, narrative, argumentative, persuasive) relevant to the audience, context, purpose, genre
  6. Develop ideas through a varied and effective use of reasoning, evidence, context, and audience appeals
  7. Identify and evaluate the quality and reliability of sources of information for use in oral and written presentation and reference information appropriate for the context
  8. Identify and use technological tools and resources appropriate to the situation or task
  9. Accurately represent information or data in tables, charts or graphs
  10. Critically evaluate ideas from written and oral sources (comprehend, synthesize, apply, form opinions, and make appropriate decisions based on information in oral and written texts)
  11. Get, use, and give feedback effectively




Critical Thinking:  Components And Outcomes Defined

(Revised 4/28/03)


Upon completion of the General Education program at UW – La Crosse, a student will be able to demonstrate effective Critical Thinking skills.  Critical Thinking encompasses the following components:

§     Analytical and Problem-solving Skills

§     Quantitative Skills

Analytic and Problem-Solving Skills

Students will be able to:

  1. Determine which methods of inquiry are appropriate for a given problem, issue, or situation
  2. Explain how the content of an oral or written text is related to the context in which it was produced
  3. Evaluate the evidence, logic and/or arguments supporting or refuting a thesis
  4. Distinguish between facts and opinion, inferences and observations
  5. Identify a problem, what is known about the problem, and resources needed to gather more data/information
  6. Consider the context and multiple perspectives when exploring a problem or issue
  7. Evaluate the credibility and relevance of information, and detect errors, biases, assumptions, omissions, and/or fallacies in information
  8. Recognize the difference between primary and secondary information sources and know the value of each type
  9. Synthesize information from divergent sources and viewpoints and draw reasonable inferences and/or conclusions
  10. Organize information, ideas, data, and hypotheses
  11. Suggest, evaluate, and implement problem-solving strategies using valid information and logical arguments
  12. Detect patterns or systems underlying phenomena, concepts, structures, and/or organizations
  13. Predict outcomes from analysis of data/information

Quantitative Reasoning Skills

Students will be able to:

  1. Interpret information given in the form of formulas, graphs, tables, and schematics, and draw inferences and make predictions from them.
  2. Represent mathematical information symbolically, visually, numerically, and verbally. 
  3. Use mathematical methods to solve problems.
  4. Estimate and check answers to mathematical problems in order to determine reasonableness, identify alternatives, and select optimal results.

Content Knowledge and the Integration of Knowledge

(Tentative Approval at the 3/03/03 meeting of the GEC, but still in progress)


Upon completion of the General Education program at UW – La Crosse, students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the following content areas:

§         the life and physical sciences

§         the humanities and the arts

§         the social sciences

§         mathematics

§         health and well-being

This understanding will be demonstrated as students:

1.       Identify fundamental/foundational principles, theories, concepts, and issues within the discipline

2.       Identify and describe common methodologies and tools used in a discipline

3.       Use the methodologies or tools to replicate or create new knowledge /artifacts

4.       Identify ways that disciplines influence or rely upon one another in our natural, physical, and social world

5.       Articulate limitations to knowledge in these disciplines (what is known, what is not known)

6.       Identify possible strategies for increasing understanding in that discipline

7.       Identify and evaluate important bibliographic and electronic resources that pertain to this discipline

8.       Evaluate information from a variety of sources that relate to/inform others about this field

9.       Explain how this information is relevant to both our daily lives and our society


Upon completion of the General Education program at UW-La Crosse, students will demonstrate the ability to integrate knowledge as they:

1.       Apply the skills and knowledge learned in one discipline to solving problems, gaining new experiences, or creating new things in other disciplines

2.       Articulate how the content or form of a text, theory, interpretation, composition, or complex system is shaped by the contexts within which it was created

3.       Explain why this contextual awareness is important

4.       Identify the various interdependent components of both humanly created complex systems (e.g., economies, civilizations and cultures, computer networks) and complex systems in nature (e.g., ecosystems)

5.       Recognize how the intricate components of a system form an integrated whole

6.       Explain how the various components of a complex system operate to influence its behavior, change it, or maintain it in a state of equilibrium



Aesthetic Perspective

(approved at the 2/17/03 GEC meeting)

Upon completion of the General Education program at UW – La Crosse, a student will be able to:

  1. Identify major artistic traditions in multiple art forms across culture and over time.
  2. Evaluate and discuss artistic presentations using the language and patterns of thought inherent in the particular art form.
  3. Recognize and discuss human creativity and diverse forms of aesthetic expression in multiple disciplines.
  4. Discern the impact and role of artistic and literary achievement in society and one’s personal life.
  5. Recognize and discuss the role of the arts as critical commentaries on society and the human condition.

Global Perspective and Understanding Diversity

(Revised 4/28/03)


After completing the General Education Program at UWL students will demonstrate a global perspective and an understanding of diversity.

A Global Perspective will be demonstrated by students’ ability to:

  1. Explain how various factors (e.g., economic, historical, political, social, cultural, religious, linguistic, technological, educational, environmental) affect the well-being of peoples, cultures, societies, and diverse groups throughout the world
  2. Explain how the term globalization is interpreted differently in different contexts and be able to provide reasons for these multiple perspectives.
  3. Describe the evolution and impact of global institutions (e.g., IMF, UN, World Bank) that transcend national economic, political, social and cultural jurisdiction.

4.       Describe how a person’s historical and cultural contexts influence perceptions of themselves and others

5.       Identify the beliefs, biases, and/or political views that may be embedded within a document, artifact, or event(s)

6.      Identify significant factors that have made the modern world what it is today.

Understanding diversity will be demonstrated by a student’s ability to:


1.       Identify contributions that diverse cultures, groups, and individuals have made to local, state, national, and global society

2.       Describe how race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and religious affiliation have shaped people’s cultural outlooks as well as how they have been perceived by others

3.       Describe how privilege and oppression, race, gender, sexual orientation, class, age, ability, and religious affiliations have functioned in systems of economic, social, and political control

4.       Recognize the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized groups and how they may be impacted by legislative and judicial decisions and global actions






Responsible Citizenship and Ethical Decision Making

Draft (03/12/03)

Upon completion of the General Education program at UW – La Crosse, students will be able to demonstrate the beginning of Responsible citizenship and Ethical Decision Making.  Components of this outcome include:

§         Personal, academic, community, national, and global values

§         Civic engagement

§         Ethical Decision Making

 Students will demonstrate an understanding of Personal, academic, community, national, and global values  as they:

  1. Articulate their own personal values and how these differ from the value system of others.
  2. Identify cultural, historical, economic, religious, and other factors that help create and influence their own values and the values of a culture/society.
  3. Describe the moral framework established by human rights issues, conventions and protocols and the commitment of signatory nation states to this moral framework
  4. Interact respectfully with others different from oneself 
  5. Question their own assumptions and respectfully question the assumptions of others
  6. Respond empathically toward the situation of others
  7. Practice and uphold standards of academic integrity and intellectual honesty
  8. Use information ethically and respect intellectual property rights
  9. Articulate current ethical issues as they relate to scientific and technological development, and other areas such as social, political, and economic policy 
  10. Identify the assumptions and logic that result in moral judgments of people from other ethnic/cultural backgrounds 

Students will demonstrate Civic Engagement as they:

1.       Assess and articulate their own knowledge about the world and identify strategies for developing awareness of others

2.       Identify the elements and responsibilities of citizens in a democratic society

3.       Explain the importance of participation in the democratic process

4.       Identify their own strategies for involvement, leadership, and citizenship

5.       Participate in campus and community events and in the democratic process

6.       Suggest possible explanations for and solutions to social, political, or economic issues

7.       Explain how individuals, communities and organizational (political, economic, social, educational, etc.) structures may contribute to the depletion or preservation of local, national, and global resources

8.       Identify strategies to increase their awareness and knowledge of social justice and injustice


Students will demonstrate Ethical Decision Making as they:

1.   Articulate the process or strategies they use to make ethical decisions

2.   Compare and contrast the possible outcomes of situations based on different decisions

3.   Compare and contrast ethical principles and decision making from various perspectives

4.   Apply their knowledge of ethics to practical situations in their own or other disciplines or human situations

5.   Argue logically and persuasively why they believe that their particular decision was ethically sound

6.   Make thoughtful choices in personal lifestyle and evaluate the consequences of those choices

7.   Analyze the impact their decisions and choices have on others.

8.   Respect diverse perspectives and approaches to ethical issues or problems