Macalester College Statement of Student Learning
(Endorsed by the Macalester College Faculty on April 10, 2012; Endorsed by the Macalester College Student Affairs Division on April 25, 2012; Endorsed by the Academic Affairs and Campus Life Committees of the Macalester College Board of Trustees on May 11, 2012)
Students attend Macalester College expecting to gain knowledge, skills, and perspectives that will facilitate meaningful interaction with ideas, people, and communities for the rest of their lives. Macalester creates opportunities for student learning through its commitment to a liberal arts education and an emphasis on learning that addresses students’ intellectual, personal, and social development. Macalester prepares students for productive engagement with an increasingly connected and diverse global society where cross-cultural expertise is more crucial than ever before.
Macalester’s Statement of Student Learning focuses on the college’s aspirations as an institution of higher learning. From an institutional perspective, the Statement addresses college-wide values and goals underlying both curricular and co-curricular activities. The dual focus on curricular andco-curricular activities embodies an integrated perspective acknowledging the various ways in which students learn. Also, the Statement aims to enhance efforts within and between various departments and offices to achieve college-wide goals. A collective vision of student learning grounded in Macalester values enables collaboration by multiple faculty and staff in different departments and offices.
While the Statement of Student Learning facilitates coordinated efforts to address Macalester’s college-wide learning goals, it should not be interpreted as a prescription for how faculty and staff instruct students. Various pedagogical approaches to curricular and co-curricular matters can enable students to achieve the college-wide learning goals articulated by the Statement. This Statement is a means by which faculty and staff can connect their work with Macalester’s college-wide learning goals.
Also, though the Statement focuses on college-wide learning goals and outcomes advanced by the work of Macalester faculty and staff, students are envisioned as active, meaning-making participants in their own learning. In this respect, the education offered by Macalester faculty and staff is not something that happens to students, but a collaborative process necessitating active engagement by students. This Statement is a tool that students can use to maximize their learning opportunities at Macalester.
The following sections describe the college-wide values, learning goals, and student responsibilities promoted by a Macalester education.
Macalester College Values
Macalester’s values shape every aspect of student learning at the college. These values guide educational experiences at Macalester and provide a coherent, meaningful framework on which our curriculum and co-curriculum are based. Macalester’s Mission Statement guidesthe four primary values articulated below: scholarship, internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society.
Macalester College Mission Statement
Macalester is committed to being a preeminent liberal arts college with an educational program known for its high standards for scholarship and its special emphasis on internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society.
(adopted by the Board of Trustees in 1992; reaffirmed by the Board in 2005)
Understanding how these values are expressed in and relate to student learning at Macalester is essential for achieving Macalester’s educational goals. Though each value is addressed in turn and subsequently related to each learning goal, we envision the values as inextricably linked to each other and vital features of Macalester’s distinctiveness as a college.
Macalester College faculty and staff contribute to scholarly dialogue within and across fields through publications, public scholarship, performances, creative and artistic works, and other forms of intellectual engagement. We expect students to appreciate and apply rigorous standards and contribute to this scholarly dialogue in their own work as they engage broadly in a liberal arts education and specifically within their chosen field(s) of study.
Macalester College has a long tradition of involving students in educational pursuits that promote ethical and engaged global citizenship. We expect students to contribute thoughtful and principled leadership in an interconnected society.
Macalester College is committed to fostering a principled understanding of diversity. We expect students to appreciate varied social identity groups’ experiences and contributions, to understand unequal distribution of power and resources, and to be aware of efforts to promote social justice.
Service to Society
Macalester College believes that meaningful engagement with communities deepens individuals’ understanding and appreciation of their connection with society. We expect students to pursue learning experiences that enable them to use their education to actively address social issues in the Twin Cities and/or other communities. Thus, we prepare students to contribute to the public good in meaningful ways and in a spirit of respectful reciprocity and partnership.
Our expression of learning goals derives not only from the Mission Statement but also from several important documents addressing Macalester College’s identity, including the Macalester Assessment Steering Committee’s (2005) “An Assessment Plan for Macalester College” document and “’World Class’: Strategic Imperatives for Macalester College, 2005-2015.” The strongest influence, however, comes from the Macalester College Statement of Purpose and Belief.
Macalester College Statement of Purpose and Belief
At Macalester College we believe that education is a fundamentally transforming experience. As a community of learners, the possibilities for this personal, social, and intellectual transformation extend to us all. We affirm the importance of the intellectual growth of the students, staff and faculty through individual and collaborative endeavor. We believe that this can best be achieved through an environment that values the diverse cultures of our world and recognizes our responsibility to provide a supportive and respectful environment for students, staff and faculty of all cultures and backgrounds.
We expect students to develop a broad understanding of the liberal arts while they are at Macalester. Students should follow a primary course of study in order to acquire an understanding of disciplinary theory and methodology; they should be able to apply their understanding of theories to address problems in the larger community. Students should develop the ability to use information and communication resources effectively, be adept at critical, analytical and logical thinking, and express themselves well in both oral and written forms. Finally, students should be prepared to take responsibility for their personal, social and intellectual choices.
We believe that the benefit of the educational experience at Macalester is the development of individuals who make informed judgments and interpretations of the broader world around them and choose actions or beliefs for which they are willing to be held accountable. We expect them to develop the ability to seek and use knowledge and experience in contexts that challenge and inform their suppositions about the world. We are committed to helping students grow intellectually and personally within an environment that models and promotes academic excellence and ethical behavior. The education a student begins at Macalester provides the basis for continuous transformation through learning and service.
(adopted by the Macalester Faculty in 1995; reaffirmed by the Board of Trustees in 2005
Macalester College Student Learning Goals and Outcomes
Macalester’s values form the foundation upon which our student learning goals and outcomes are built. These goals and outcomes are grouped into six principal areas: (1) Demonstrating intellectual depth and breadth; (2) Thinking critically and analyzing effectively; (3) Communicating effectively; (4) Demonstrating intercultural knowledge and competence; (5) Making informed choices and accepting responsibility; and (6) Engaging community. Each of the six goals has ties to the values in Macalester’s Mission Statement in the following ways:
- Intellectual depth and breadth are necessary for effectively reflecting upon the complexity inherent in our values of scholarship, internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society.
- Critical thinking and effective analysis are inseparable from quality scholarship, lead to deeper comprehension of internationalism and multiculturalism, and enhance the impact of service to society.
- The ability to communicate effectively with others in various forms is essential to expressing scholarship, explaining positions on international and multicultural issues, and articulating commitments about service to society.
- Intercultural knowledge and competence are necessary for effective interaction across differences that can exist between individuals and communities, both locally and globally, and can facilitate service to society that is in a spirit of respectful reciprocity and partnership.
- Making informed choices and accepting responsibility leads individuals to take greater ownership of their actions and words. Informed choices matter in scholarship, in which individuals take positions and make recommendations; in service to society, in which individuals’ actions affect others’ well-being; and in internationalism and multiculturalism, in which individuals decide how to build relationship and navigate differences.
- Engaging community in a respectful manner is essential for effective service to society, is the hallmark of interaction among scholars, and enables individuals to adeptly handle situations where differences exist across cultures.
The following college-wide learning goals and outcomes are the means by which we can see that Macalester’s values are being cultivated in our students. Though closely tied to each other, student learning goals and outcomes can be distinguished from each other. “Learning goals” encompass in broad terms what we intend Macalester students to achieve by graduation, whereas “learning outcomes” focus on the specific skills, knowledge, habits of mind, or values that our students will demonstrate to show that they have progressed toward or met a goal. In articulating specific outcomes, our thinking was shaped by the VALUE Rubric Development Project (Association of American Colleges & Universities, 2007-2009).
While the learning goals have several outcomes expressed under each of them, one should be mindful of the interactive nature of the goals. For this reason, faculty and staff may offer instruction promoting student learning outcomes associated with more than one goal. Hence, though outcomes within a goal can convey understanding of how a particular goal may be achieved, the outcomes across all of the goals collectively represent the knowledge, skills, and values that Macalester promotes.
A. Demonstrate Intellectual Depth and Breadth
Intellectual depth and breadth combines both knowledge within a field and the rich interconnections across multiple fields for a liberal arts education. Students display this depth and breadth especially when engaged in problem solving or aesthetic pursuits. Problem solving is “the process of designing, evaluating, and implementing a strategy to answer an open-ended question or achi eve a desired goal” (Rhodes , 2010). Aesthetic pursuits encompass“ appreciative, reflective, cultural, participatory engagements with the arts” (Greene, 2001).
Macalester College believes that intellectual depth and breadth are necessary for effectively reflecting upon the complexity inherent in our scholarship, internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society.
Goal: Macalester graduates will be able to apply their broad understanding of the liberal arts and their deep understanding of a chosen field to analyze issues, solve problems, and express or appreciate aesthetic values.
Students demonstrating intellectual depth of a field and breadth across the liberal arts will beable to
- Use bodies of knowledge, theories, or methodologies within a field to analyze issues, solve problems, express or appreciate aesthetic values, or achieve desired goals;
- Use bodies of knowledge, theories, or methodologies to recognize and address unresolved questions or issues in a field;
- Compare and contrast how different fields analyze issues, solve problems, express aesthetic values, or achieve desired goals;
- Produce novel applications, creative expressions, or new insights connected to bodies of knowledge from one or more fields.
B. Think Critically and Analyze Effectively
The process of critical thinking involves gathering, analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing relevant and reliable information from a variety of perspectives to form and support a conclusion.
Macalester College believes that critical thinking and effective analysis are inseparable from high quality scholarship, lead to deeper comprehension of internationalism and multiculturalism, and enhance the effectiveness of service to society.
Goal: Macalester graduates will be able to apply their critical thinking skills to analyze issues with an open mind, question their assumptions, and evaluate relevant literature, data, or other sources of information before reaching a conclusion.
Students demonstrating critical thinking and effective analysis will be able to
- Question both stated and unstated assumptions and explore issues from multiple perspectives;
- Gather information (quantitative, qualitative, interpretive, aesthetic, normative) most relevant to an issue;
- Recognize when further information is necessary;
- Synthesize and critique relevant information to formulate defensible conclusions, build upon existing knowledge, or create novel ideas;
- Re-evaluate their own conclusions when considering new information relevant to an issue.
C. Communicate Effectively
Communication is the process of sharing information and ideas, listening to and engaging with an audience, and interacting through a variety of contexts (e.g., written, oral, visual). Communication may be informative, expressive, or persuasive. Effective communication results in increased understanding or changed attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors.
Macalester College believes that the ability to communicate effectively with others in various forms is essential to expressing sch olarship, explaining positions on international and multicultural issues, and articulating commitments about service to society.
Goal: Macalester graduates will demonstrate an ability to inform, express, or persuade effectively in writing, speech, and visual media.
Students who inform, inspire, or persuade others by communicating effectively will
- Consider audience perspectives or needs and the context in which communication occurs;
- Articulate findings, ideas, positions, or perspectives, or convey information:
a. in writing using many genres and styles;
b. in oral form in prepared presentations, group discussions, or performances;
c. in visual forms, such as graphs, illustrations, art work, or multi-media;
- Listen attentively when interacting with others, either as presenters or audience members .
D. Demonstrate Intercultural Knowledge and Competence
Intercultural knowledge and competence arise from experiences with various cultural dynamics (e.g., language, politics, history, religion, unequal distribution of power and resources) and from social identities (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class). Thus, intercultural knowledge and competence are a set of cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills and understandings that support the recognition of one’s own cultural tradition and the cultural traditions of others. Such knowledge and competence lead to effective and appropriate actions in a variety of cultural contexts.
Macalester College believes that intercultural knowledge and competence are necessary for effective interaction across differences that can exist between individuals and communities, both locally and globally, and can facilitate service to society that is in a spirit of respectful reciprocity and partnership
Goal: Macalester graduates will have the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and self-awareness necessary for interacting, negotiating, communicating and forming relationships with people from diverse backgrounds.
Students demonstrating intercultural knowledge and competence will
- Engage with ideas and people that challenge their own cultural perspectives;
- Reflect on how their own cultural background may affect their interactions or relationships with others;
- Demonstrate empathy by acting in a supportive manner that recognizes the feelings and perspectives of another cultural group;
- Articulate the complexity arising from the interrelationships between various aspects of culture, such as language, history, values, politics, religion, practices, and unequal distributions of power and resources;
- Navigate differences by drawing on relevant cultural frames of reference and adapting their perspectives and behaviors accordingly.
E. Make Informed Choices and Accept Responsibility
Students’ actions and words reflect choices for which they should be responsible. Students make informed choices by comparing their personal values to community standards (e.g., academic discipline, profession, campus, neighborhood, etc.), recognizing ethical issues in a variety of settings, thinking about how different perspectives may apply to ethical issues, and understanding the consequences of their choices or actions.
Macalester College believes that informed choices matter:
- in scholarship, in which individuals take positions and make recommendations;
- in service to society, in which individuals’ actions affect others’ well-being; and
- in internationalism and multiculturalism, in which in individuals decide how to build relationships and navigate differences.
Goal: Macalester graduates will be able to analyze, reason about, and describe their own choices, take into account the ethical standards of various communities, and make decisions based on ethical considerations.
Students who make informed choices and accept responsibility will
- Discern how their own choices and ethical stances are grounded in larger community values or ethical standards;
- Recognize and compare ethical standards associated with communities different from their own;
- Articulate a well-reasoned choice or ethical stance on an issue, while understanding its limits;
- Anticipate the intended and unintended implications of their choices and ethical stances;
- Respond accordingly to the consequences of their choices and ethical stances.
F. Engage Community
Community engagement creates a sense of belonging through relationships and shared responsibilities within many settings including, but not limited to, the geographical (e.g., local, national, international), the professional (e.g., workplace, academic organization), and the civic (e.g., political, volunteer, artistic). Thus, engaging community can take many forms such as attending events; contributing one’s time, talent, or resources; assisting in problem- solving; and/or celebrating milestones and traditions.
Macalester College believes that engaging community in a respectful manner is essential for effective service to society, is the hallmark of interaction among scholars, and enables individuals to adeptly handle situations where differences exist across cultures.
Goal: Macalester graduates will participate in activities that enrich communities and themselves. They will also integrate and apply their educational experiences to meet community needs and contribute to the common good.
Students demonstrating community engagement are able to
- Identify distinctive characteristics of communities (e.g., beliefs, history, expectations, assets, strengths, issues, and challenges);
- Describe interrelationships between local, national, and international issues and how they affect communities;
- Participate in activities that contribute to communities while respecting their distinctive characteristics (e.g., beliefs, history, expectations, assets, strengths, issues, and challenges);
- Reflect upon their roles, motivations, and actions with regard to their involvement within and across communities;
- Work collaboratively within and across communities to achieve a civic aim.
Macalester College Student Learning Responsibilities
Macalester’s student learning goals and outcomes depend not only upon curricular and co- curricular opportunities provided by Macalester faculty and staff, but also upon students taking personal responsibility for their own learning. For this reason, students are expected to be intentional learners while pursuing their Macalester education. Beyond meeting the minimal expectations for all college students (i.e., being motivated to pursue a college education, exhibiting effective study habits, spending sufficient time on educational activities, and interacting civilly with peers, faculty, and staff), intentional learners develop “self-awareness about the reason for study, the learning process itself, and how education is used” (Greater Expectations National Panel, 2002, p. 21)
Specifically, being an intentional learner requires Macalester students to actively:
- reflect on what educational experiences mean to them and how they learn from those experiences;
- integrate what they are learning through their educational experiences both in and out of the classroom;
- apply the full range of their educational experiences when making decisions; and
- adapt what they have learned in one situation to challenges encountered in another situation, whether in a classroom, work setting, community, or their personal lives.
Students who embody these intentional learner qualities will be able to effectively engage learning opportunities provided by faculty and staff and achieve Macalester’s college-wide learning goals and outcomes.
Macalester’s Statement of Student Learning articulates learning goals and outcomes based on college-wide values. These student learning goals and outcomes are advanced by faculty and staff offering learning opportunities to students who are intentional learners. This collaborative process aims to produce Macalester graduates who are life-long learners capable of pursuing rigorous graduate education, embarking on successful careers, and meeting future challenges.
Association of American Colleges & Universities. (2007-2009). VALUE rubric development project. Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/value/rubrics
Greater Expectations National Panel, Association of American Colleges and Universities (2002). Greater expectations: A new vision for learning as a nation goes to college. Retrieved from http://greaterexpectations.org/pdf/GEX.FINAL.pdf
Greene, M. (2001). Variations on a blue guitar: The Lincoln Center Institute lectures on aesthetic education. New York: Teachers College Press.
Macalester College Assessment Steering Committee (2005). An assessment plan for Macalester College.
Rhodes, T.L.(Ed.)(2010). Assessing outcomes and improving achievement: Tips and tools for using rubrics. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges and Universities Problem-solving.
Rosenberg, B. (2005). “World class”: Strategic imperatives for Macalester College, 2005-2015.