1997 Annual Report
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Learning Objectives Analysis
The purpose of this report is to pinpoint and explain parallels between Integrative Studies (IS) learning objectives and those of the various colleges and departments at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Information specific to individual colleges and departments was obtained from Undergraduate Bulletin 1997-98 copy, assessment reports, and in some cases, accreditation standards. This information has been summarized in the matrix at the end of this document. For the exact wording of objectives, please refer to the original source noted.
Integrative Studies Objectives
Since the primary goal of this report is to perform a comparative analysis of IS objectives to all others (collegiate and departmental), it is necessary to provide basic information on IS objectives. Generally speaking, IS objectives fall into the following fundamental categories, which include: critical thinking, communication (oral and written), and human diversity. Items falling under these general headings are as follows:
Critical thinking (objective and subjective), through a variety of approaches in which students investigate arguments, engage in research, gather data, perform qualitative and quantitative analysis, and assess conclusions.
Written communication (formal and informal), on which the instructor comments, used to explore substantial problems in the subject area and report the results of critical and creative thinking.
Dialogue in the classroom through discussion, group and individual reports and other activities that provide students opportunities to share creative work, describe research, or explore important issues.
Consideration of human diversity appropriate to the subject matter of the course so that students can explore the way in which cultural differences shape conceptions about the subject matter and discern the intellectual and pragmatic effects on human groups of the subject matter and ideas related to it.
Since IS objectives must accommodate a wide range of emphases, they must necessarily be broad and all-encompassing to be applicable amongst various disciplines.
Information from the following nine colleges are included in this analysis: Architecture, Arts and Sciences, Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR), Business Administration (CBA), Engineering and Technology, Fine and Performing Arts, Human Resources and Family Sciences, Journalism and Mass Communications, and Teachers College. Click here for college-level learning objectives.
Like IS objectives, the colleges' objectives tended to be very broad. Although variance may exist in language used to express the various objectives, most colleges listed goals for student learning in the areas of critical thinking and communication. This is true of the College of Architecture, Arts and Sciences, CBA, Engineering & Technology, etc. As expected, however, various colleges sometimes exhibit a certain degree of specificity through statements of objectives such as "understanding of the profession and its ethics" (Eng. & Tech) an "development of human relations skills such as team building" (CBA).
Some colleges rely primarily on accreditation standards to set criteria for learning objectives. An example of this is seen in the College of Architecture where, although the college has set some goals for learning, the college must also demonstrate its ability to attain additional learning objectives to achieve accreditation. The same is true for the College of Fine and Performing Arts, where objectives at the collegiate level seem vague, yet accreditation standards for individual programs are well-defined.
Identification and description of learning objectives is inconsistent from college to college and from department to department. Generally when objectives are listed, they tend to be more distinctive according to departmental specialty. some departments, such as those in Engineering and Technology and the College of Fine and Performing Arts, state specific goals for development of skills particular to the discipline. Others identify assessment measures rather than learning objectives; if it seemed reasonable to infer an IS objective from the measure as described, it was included in the matrix. One might assume that the broader learning objectives of colleges are also considered departmental goals in curricula decisions and, more specifically, course development and assessment (ref. department information in CASNR and College of Journalism and Mass Communications.) Click here for department-level learning objectives.