General Education Goals and Outcomes for Student Learning

Students celebrating at convocation

Embedded throughout VCU’s General Education Program are six learning outcomes intended to strengthen students’ academic and career readiness skills.

Select an outcome below for more details:

Communicative fluency is understanding and creating shared meaning with effective use of language and communicative practices, intentional engagement of audience, cogent and coherent iteration and negotiation with others, and skillful translation across multiple expressive formulations and modes.

  • Develop and present cogent, coherent, and error-free written communication with general and specialized audiences
  • Develop and present cogent, coherent, and error-free oral communication with general and specialized audiences
  • Recognize and use other modalities of communication (e.g. digital, expressive, and scientific) effectively and appropriately
  • Understand and effectively uses genre and disciplinary conventions for communication, including syntax and mechanics, for a variety of purposes
  • Choose a variety of sources of evidence appropriate to the audience and purpose; selects sources after considering the importance of multiple criteria, such as relevance, currency, authority, scholarliness, and bias or point of view
  • Achieve positive outcomes with others through interpreting both verbal and nonverbal information, social perceptiveness, empathy, persuasion, and negotiation; able to select key pieces of a complex idea to express in words, sounds, and images, in order to build shared understanding

Ethical reasoning includes judgments of right and wrong, good and bad, related to human conduct especially concerning matters of justice, fairness, equity, and social responsibility. Value systems, both culturally inherited and different from students’ own experiences, inform the deliberations regarding the quality of life and social goods necessary to employ ethical decision-making.

  • Recognizes ethical issues
  • Identify one’s culturally inherited beliefs through self-awareness & civic identity
  • Understand the different ethical perspectives/concepts & diversity of communities and cultures
  • Apply beliefs and ethical perspectives
  • Demonstrate the impact of ethical decision making on civic contexts and structures

Global and cultural responsiveness and agility requires (1) suspension of judgment in valuing interactions with culturally different others and (2) empathic and flexible responsiveness to unfamiliar ways of being, recognizing that all actions have correlative intercultural effects. This competency’s primary goal, achievable only after several courses with this competency, is for students to advance equity and justice on local and global levels, well informed by historical and political contexts.

  • Demonstrate understanding of relevant historical, cultural, political contexts
  • Compare and contrast practical and ideological differences among cultures
  • Show appropriate contexts and methods for suspending value judgments
  • Demonstrate capacity for empathy
  • Demonstrate sensibility to actions’ consequent reciprocal reactions

Information literacy is a set of integrated abilities to solve problems and generate new knowledge that encompasses recognizing an information need; critically identifying, locating, and evaluating appropriate resources; and responsibly and effectively synthesizing, applying, and sharing information.

  • Recognize an information need and determine extent and type of information needed
  • Identify and locate appropriate sources
  • Critically evaluate information and its sources
  • Effectively synthesize, apply, and share information to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Demonstrate understanding of relevant legal and ethical issues for information use

Problem solving is the process of designing, evaluating, and implementing approaches to open-ended questions in order to achieve a desired outcome or goal, based on both: 1) the comprehensive exploration of issues, ideas, artifacts, and events before accepting or formulating an opinion or conclusion; and, 2) the synthesis of ideas, images or expertise and imaginative thinking characterized by innovation, divergent thinking, and risk taking.

  • Define complex problems, issues, or questions
  • Identify and seek out approaches, information, skills and relevant resources
  • Develop and propose multiple solutions (demonstrating intellectual risk-taking and tolerance for ambiguity)
  • Evaluate potential solutions with awareness of contradictions, competing assumptions, and consideration of context
  • Analyze the implications, consequences, and outcomes of solutions

Quantitative literacy is the knowledge of mathematical/statistical operations and graphical representations of numerical data, the knowledge of how to represent real world objects, events, information, and problems as symbolic data sets, the ability to recognize which mathematical/statistical operations are applicable to given data sets, and the ability to analyze, interpret, and explain the output of mathematical/statistical operations performed by the student or presented in the published literature.

  • Convert information into mathematical/symbolic forms
  • Recognize the appropriate mathematical/statistical operations for the analysis of given information/data sets
  • Perform mathematical/statistical operations
  • Extract the meaning of a quantitative analysis, draws inferences, and produces appropriate conclusions
  • Express the rationale for the application of specific operations to specific data sets and the validity of conclusions derived from analyses