Academic Program Assessment

Curricular Learning Goals  (As approved by APSC on March 17, 2008)
Learning goals are reviewed by our Academic Program and Standards Committee, which consists of students, faculty, and administrators, whenever a new course is proposed or a program is under review. The course and program learning goals necessarily mesh with our curricular requirements for foreign language learning, understanding domestic and cross-cultural differences, enhancing quantitative and writing skills, and appreciating the different modes of knowing represented by the humanities and the natural and social sciences. Dickinson students must take courses designed to meet these learning goals, which give breadth to their education, while developing their analytical abilities and mastery within a major field of study. 

First-year seminars:  The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces students to Dickinson as a “community of inquiry” by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning. Through the study of a compelling issue or broad topic chosen by their faculty member, students will1:

  • Critically analyze information and ideas
  • Examine issues from multiple perspectives
  • Discuss, debate and defend ideas, including one’s own views, with clarity and reason
  • Develop discernment, facility and ethical responsibility in using information, and
  • Create clear academic writing

Writing Intensive Course: A Writing Intensive Course (WR) is a regular academic course designed to integrate the teaching of writing with the teaching of subject matter. Students fulfilling the WR graduation requirement will 2:

  • identify and demonstrate discipline-specific writing conventions;
  • understand that writing is a recursive process and develop an effective writing process.

Quantitative Reasoning Course": A Quantitative Reasoning Course is a regular academic course designed to provide a solid foundation for the interpretation and critical understanding of the world through numbers, logic, or deductive and analytical reasoning.

  • SLOs will be articulated and approved during the 2016-17 academic year.

Distribution Courses: Distribution requirements engage students in the full breadth of liberal learning as represented by three fundamental branches of the academic curriculum.

Division I: Arts and Humanities help us interpret the human experience through artistic and conceptual self-expression and through critical reflection.

  • SLOs will be articulated and approved during the 2014-15 academic year.

Division II: Social Sciences seek to describe, analyze, and interpret the ways in which people interact within and among the societies they have created.

  • SLOs will be articulated and approved during the 2015-16 academic year.

Division III: Laboratory Science aims at understanding the character of the natural order through investigation of the basic structures and regularities in the planet Earth and universe.

Students fulfilling the Division III lab science graduation requirement will demonstrate3:

  • the ability to use scientific methods as a way of understanding the world;
  • knowledge of content and principles within the natural sciences;
  • the ability to critically evaluate claims from a scientific perspective.

Cross-cultural studies: The college requires three different types of course work to familiarize students with the ways in which the diversity of human cultures has shaped our world. These courses seek to prepare students to be effective citizens in an interdependent world and to be aware of the breadth of voices, perspectives, experiences, values, and cultures that constitute the rich tapestry of U.S. life and history.

Languages: All students must complete the equivalent of intermediate level coursework in a language that is not their native tongue.

  • SLOs will be articulated and approved during the 2014-15 academic year.

U.S. Diversity: The United States has always been and remains a place of diversity, contest and inequality.  The U.S. diversity course explores the ways in which diversity has enriched and complicated our lives. The course examines the intersections of two or more of the following categories of identity in the United States: race, ethnicity, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, and/or disability.  By considering people’s lived experiences as members of dominant and subordinated groups, this course equips students to engage a complex, diverse United States. Students fulfilling the U.S. Diversity graduation requirement will4:

  • Gain a solid grasp of the course content
  • Become more knowledgeable about a complex and diverse United States
  • Enhance critical thinking about issues of position, power and privilege
  • Recognize the multiple identities that shape our interactions with one another
  • Develop skills to engage in respectful and civil dialogue with others who have different perspectives

Comparative Civilizations: To deepen students' understanding of the diversity in cultures by introducing them to traditions other than those that have shaped the modern West, the college requires one course with a focus on the comparative study of civilizations.

  • SLOs will be articulated and approved in the 2017-18 academic year.

Please use the template for assessment plans.


1Approved December 2007.

2Approved April 2014.

3Approved April 2013.

4Approved April 2014.