Center for Instructional
Innovation and Assessment


Kenn Apel
Scott Brennan
Shaw Gynan
Ken Hoover
Goals Contents
Ken Hoover
Political Science


Institutional Goals

Listed below are selected learning outcomes in the areas of critical thinking, writing, and information seeking that Western Washington University is actively integrating into its curriculum. Each learning outcome is listed with its definition, along with a description of how Professor Hoover's course meets each of these student learning outcome goals.

Critical Thinking

Learning Outcomes Definition Course Outcomes
Identification Accurately identifies and interprets evidence. The first week of class, the students were divided into small groups and given a different website to evaluate. Each group's task was to develop criteria to determine the credibility of internet information sources on elections.
Alternative Consideration Considers major alternative points of view. The instructor chose politically charged topics for the students to research, such as gender issues, thus encouraging discussion and examination of alternative points of view.
Accurate Conclusions Draws warranted, judicious, non-fallacious conclusions. By doing the research in their assigned area, generating initial hypotheses based on this research, and reexamining the hypotheses in light of the election results, they verified the accuracy of their conclusions.
Justification Justifies key results and procedures, and explains assumptions and reasons. During the website evaluation, the students developed and examined the criteria for evaluating research, thus justifying their research procedure. As they revisited their previous work in the written assignment, they underwent a reasoned process to accurately justify their conclusions.

Source: Adapted from the California Academic Press's Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric (HCTSR).



Learning Outcomes Definition Course Outcomes
Rhetorical Knowledge Focuses on a clear rhetorical purpose and responds appropriately to the needs of varied audiences and situations. Each student completed not only an individual writing assignment, but also a team writing assignment. In addition, each team wrote a script for their five-minute streaming internet reports. This allowed the students to respond appropriately to the needs of varied audiences and situations. Each writing assignment also had a clearly described purpose.
Critical Analysis Develops, examines, situates, and communicates a reasoned perspective clearly to others. The first week of class two lectures laid the groundwork for students to begin to critically evaluate not only their information sources, but also the content of their research sources. Working with their instructor and graduate research assistant, the students then generated reasoned hypotheses based on this initial exploration of their assigned subject area.
Composing Processes Understands writing as a recursive process that involves drafting, re-thinking, editing, reconceptualizing. After the students developed and researched their team hypotheses, created their website, and wrote a team script for their streaming video reports, they completed their individual writing assignments. The individual writing assignment required the students to revisit their previous work and describe how their findings explained the results of the election. Based on this reflection, they also archived their election website reports. The initial research hypotheses were therefore revisited several times during the course of the project.
Convention Knowledge Uses appropriate conventions for documentation and for surface features such as syntax, grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling. Each of the writing assignments required the students to use different writing conventions--the website even required the students to learn beginning html conventions.

Source: Adapted from Western Washington University's Learning Outcomes for Writing II.


Information Seeking

Learning Outcomes Definition Course Outcomes
Identifying Need Recognizes when information is needed and formulates clear questions based on the information needed. Students met in the library with the social science librarian and the government documents librarian during the course of the project, and they learned how to identify appropriate resources for their research. Based on this research, the students developed clear hypotheses.
Search Strategies Matches information needs to information resources and organizes an effective search strategy. The students performed library and internet searches for information that would be useful for their websites and reports. They used the sources indicated by the librarians, plus they located and evaluated information on their own. During this process, they learned to develop effective search strategies.
Effective Searching Interprets citations and the internet equivalents and knows how to efficiently retrieve cited items. Students were directed to list the sources for their reports and were given a format to do so. Working in teams allowed them to compare each others' work, and to learn to make their own searches for information more effective.
Evaluating Seeks various sources of evidence to provide support for a research question or conclusion. The students were involved in evaluation of sources and processes from the first week of class. The exercise that allowed them to develop their own criteria for evaluation of information, plus the sessions with the librarians and with their instructor and graduate assistant, allowed them to evaluate their own work and that of their teammates. Revisiting their hypotheses in light of the actual election results reinforced this learning outcome.

Source: Adapted from the Association of College and Research Libraries' Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.