The Assessment of General Education Learning Outcomes in U.S. Government

15 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2013


This paper offers and analysis of the assessment of General Education Program learning outcomes in US Government courses at Valencia College.

The General Education Program at Valencia is an integral part of the A.A. Degree program and is designed to contribute to the student’s educational growth by providing a basic liberal arts education. In an effort to improve student learning, faculty instruction, and program goals, faculty set out to identify a set of student learning outcomes for the General Education Program. After considerable discussion and debate 6 student learning outcomes were identified. Thus, a student who completes the General Education Program should have achieved the following outcomes:

Cultural and Historical Understanding: Demonstrate understanding of the diverse traditions of the world, and an individual's place in it.

Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning: Use processes, procedures, data, or evidence to solve problems and make effective decisions.

Communication Skills: Engage in effective interpersonal, oral, and written communication.

Ethical Responsibility: Demonstrate awareness of personal responsibility in one's civic, social, and academic life.

Information Literacy: Locate, evaluate, and effectively use information from diverse sources.

Critical Thinking: Effectively analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and apply information and ideas from diverse sources and disciplines.

The next step in the process was to identify the General Education Program outcomes that students will demonstrate by completing our classes. Once Program outcomes were identified, faculty were responsible the assessment of these outcomes.

US Government faculty identified four General Education Outcomes for our classes: Ethical Responsibility, Information Literacy, Cultural and Historical Understanding, and Critical Thinking. Plans were developed to assess these outcomes over a 4 year timeline. The analyses of Ethical Responsibility and Information Literacy outcomes have been completed with the remaining two outcomes to be assessed this year and next.

This paper will discuss the assessment of Ethical Responsibility and Information Literacy General Education Program learning outcomes in US Government classes. It will look at how performance indicators were developed that align with specific course outcomes to assess General Education. The plan was to have faculty incorporate specific assignments in their courses and collect randomly selected artifacts of student work. These artifacts were subsequently scored according to a rubric and analyzed. The results of the assessment plans indicate that most students who take US Government demonstrate these General Education outcomes at a moderate or competent level.

Overall the research indicates that US Government contributes in important ways to our General Education program and student learning.

Suggested Citation

Quackenbush, Alvin, The Assessment of General Education Learning Outcomes in U.S. Government. APSA 2013 Teaching and Learning Conference Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Alvin Quackenbush (Contact Author)

Valencia College ( email )

P.O. BOX 3028
Orlando, FL 32802-3028
United States

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