Learning Goals Matrix

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California State University, Sacramento



Prepared by the Faculty Senate Working Group on University Learning Goals
(Fall 1999/Spring 2000)


Several forces, both internal and external, have led to the development of these learning goals for recipients of a CSUS baccalaureate degree.   Groups and individuals we loosely define as "external stakeholders" have been the most vocal advocates of changes in the ways we conceive and evaluate our degree and the programs that support it. Our most recent WASC accreditation involved the development of broadly conceptualized student outcomes and preliminary efforts to document our institutional effectiveness through assessment. CSU system initiatives first proposed as part of the "Cornerstones" plan for reformation of the baccalaureate have metamorphosed into a system-wide proposal for key performance indicators of "continuous improvement." The language of "accountability" has entered the vocabularies of the governor, the state's legislators and the publics we serve most directly---students, parents and employers.

However, the impetus for the development of campus-based student learning goals and meaningful program assessment and evaluation has not been merely a reactive response to "outsiders'" demands. The 1994 CSUS Strategic Plan noted that in order to meet the campus' goals for high quality academic programs, the campus community needed to "revise the academic program review and evaluation process to focus on teaching, learning and improving desired student outcomes." As a result of this recommendation, the academic program review process was revised, and the Faculty Senate approved a University assessment policy. In the fall of 1998 and the spring of 1999, CSUS faculty collaborated with colleagues from a number of disciplines at CSU Chico and San Francisco State University, in a project that developed common learning outcomes for two General Education requirements----written communication and quantitative reasoning.The results of their efforts were presented to the Chancellor and the statewide Academic Senate. In fall 1999, during the Senate retreat, a working group on assessment was organized. Additionally, in the fall of 1999, the Senate was asked to reconsider and revise the Academic Programs theme of the Strategic Plan and the assessment policy that underpins it. These two activities have propitiously coincided with two additional campus initiatives that are firmly rooted in the values of our campus community. One, the first program review of General Education, since 1988, has begun the collection of data about the effectiveness of this central component of the university curriculum. The second, our participation in a nation-wide project to create an on-line institutional portfolio, funded by the Pew Charitable Trust, led to a faculty and outside stakeholders' survey of fundamental learning goals for the baccalaureate degree. The results of that survey and consultations with departments and individual faculty members form the basis of the proposal that follows.

Our campus is poised to undertake a major step in formalizing and making explicit the values, knowledge, skills, and expectations which are at the heart of our efforts as educators. These expectations of undergraduate learning place our common values at the center of our efforts to evaluate and improve the quality of student learning at CSUS. The implementation of these expectations across the curriculum will allow us to work together in consistent and coherent ways to embody our goal of offering "academic programs characterized by high quality, . . .a commitment to life-long learning, the preparation of an educated citizenry, and a responsiveness to regional needs."


A baccalaureate education is focused on the premise that all students should explore how the great body of human knowledge is organized and become familiar with the methods for gaining, evaluating and extending that knowledge. Baccalaureate students should possess a range of knowledge, values, and skills that will enrich and shape their lives long after their formal education has ended.

Most of the learning expectations that follow emphasize ways of knowing and contexts for knowledge rather than specific content. More that any specific list of courses, these baccalaureate learning goals emphasize the development of knowledge, values and skills that will serve students throughout their lives, providing them with the resourcefulness and flexibility to adapt successfully to rapid social, economic and technological change,  the understandings and tolerance necessary for informed citizenship and social action, and the interest and curiosity that is essential to the pursuit of learning throughout a lifetime



Definition: The ability to demonstrate the competencies and values listed below in at least one major field of study. Additionally, this learning goal requires students to demonstrate informed understandings of other fields, drawing on the knowledge and skills of disciplines outside the major.   

Specific Expectations: This expectation is demonstrated by a student's ability to:

a) examine, organize, and reveal significant understanding of at least one disciplinary way of knowing

b) apply at least one discipline's knowledge and methods to specific problems and issues

c) examine, organize, and integrate a variety of disciplinary perspectives and ways of knowing to reveal a broad understanding of the relationships between disciplines and the ways they strengthen and enliven each other.


Definition: The ability of students to identify and diagnose problems; organize and critically evaluate relevant information of a qualitative and quantitative nature; develop reasonable arguments and effective solutions.

Specific Expectations: This set of expectations is demonstrated by a student's ability, as an individual and in collaboration with others, to

a) analyze complex issues and make informed decisions

b) recognize and synthesize valid and relevant information from various sources in order to arrive at reasoned conclusions

c) diagnose and solve problems, including those which are quantitative in nature

d) evaluate the effectiveness of proposed solutions


Definition: The ability to read, write, speak and listen effectively. The ability to respond, with understanding and appreciation to a wide variety of communicative acts.

Specific Expectations: This set of expectations is demonstrated by a student's ability to

a) express ideas and facts in a variety of written and quantitative formats and to a variety of audiences in discipline-specific, work-place, and civic contexts

b) comprehend, interpret, and analyze written and oral presentations

c) communicate orally in one-on-one and group settings

d) communicate in a language other than English

e) interpret, analyze, and evaluate ideas presented in a variety of creative formats, including written, verbal and visual.


Definition: The ability to make effective and ethical use of information resources and technology for personal and professional needs.

Specific Expectations: This set of expectations is demonstrated by a student's ability to

a) locate needed information using a variety of resources, including journals, books, and other media

b) use basic computer applications such as word processing software, e-mail, the internet, and electronic databases

c) learn, understand, evaluate and apply appropriate technologies to information processes, communication needs, and problem-solving in productive and sustained ways in both professional and personal settings

d) distinguish and make judgments among available information resources


Definition:Acquisition of knowledge of human accomplishments in the creative and performing arts and the achievements of human thought.

Specific Expectations: This set of expectations is demonstrated by a student's

a) application of a broadly historical consciousness to the human condition, the social world, and human achievements in the arts and sciences

b) experience of and appreciation for the fine and performing arts

c) understanding of the development of world civilizations and the values of different cultural traditions

d) ability to apply aesthetic principles to various cultural expressions


Definition: The ability to apply ethical standards in order to make moral judgments with respect to individual conduct and citizenship, and to recognize the diversity of human experiences and cultures, both within the United States and internationally. The development of positive social attitudes, values and behaviors.

Specific Expectations: This set of expectations is demonstrated by a student's

a) recognition of the moral dimensions of decisions and actions

b) understanding of and respect for those who are different from oneself

c) willingness to accept individual responsibility

d) ability to work collaboratively with those who come from diverse cultural backgrounds

e) ability to recognize and understand the implications of various social structures and the ways people are grouped by such characteristics as status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation

f) valuation of service as a component of active citizenship


Learning Goals Matrix