Distribution Areas and Learning Goals
Our learning goals develop critical thinking (Rubric) and self-expression.
For all distribution areas, at least two-thirds of the course must focus on the defining characteristics of that area, as described below.
The Humanities (H) are primarily concerned with human creations and beliefs as expressed in moral and ethical philosophies, the visual arts, and literary and historiographical forms. Humanities courses employ an interpretive critical methodology. The study of the Humanities is an exploration of the ways humans make meaning in and of the world, and of our place in it.
Assignments ask students to offer analyses of artworks, literary production, philosophical writings, historical documents, and other evidence of ways of knowing about the world. Students learn to exercise judgment, to organize and express ideas, and to interpret substantial bodies of knowledge.
- At least two-thirds of class meetings must focus on interpreting texts, whether through lectures, in-class discussions, debates, presentations, and similar activities. “Texts” here can include works of literature, history, and philosophy in addition to performances, recordings, films, works of art, and other “evidence of ways of knowing about the world.”
- At least two-thirds of the assigned texts must fit the definition of “humanities” above.
- At least two-thirds of the course grade must derive from interpretive assignments, including essays, class discussions, debates, or exams that focus on interpretive questions rather than factual recall.
- Courses must earn at least 3 credits to count towards the Humanities requirement.
The Social Sciences (SS) are primarily concerned with human social structures, processes, systems, and institutions. Courses that meet this requirement seek to discover, examine, and/or to explain the dynamics of human behavior, advancing our awareness and understanding of the interactions between and among people and society, and how each influences, and is influenced by the other.
Assignments in the Social Sciences may include case studies, comparative analyses, theoretical critiques, and results of experiments, using both quantitative and qualitative evidence for its conclusions. A Social Science course is one that teaches students to inquire, reflect, and think critically about these issues.
- At least two-thirds of class meetings must focus on the dynamics of and interactions between one or more of the following (depending on sub-discipline): human processes and behavior; social dynamics; social structures, systems, and/or institutions.
- At least two-thirds of course texts or other course materials must focus on the dynamics of and interactions between one or more of the following (depending on sub-discipline): human processes and behavior; social dynamics; social structures, systems, and/or institutions.
- At least two-thirds of the course grade must derive from assignments that focus on the dynamics of and interactions between one or more of the following (depending on sub-discipline): human processes and behavior; social dynamics; social structures, systems, and/or institutions.
- The two-third rules above were developed with a 3-credit course in mind; that is, 2 credits of the course time, materials, and grading must be allocated to social science. An intensive 2 credit course can qualify for the SS if 100% of the course time, materials, and grading are focused on social science. This will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Natural scientists utilize the scientific method–careful observation and experimentation, coupled with reasoning and quantitative analysis–to explain and predict phenomena. A Natural Science (NS) course is one that teaches students how to apply the tools of scientific inquiry to the natural world, and/or teaches them the fruits of such inquiry. Note that Social Sciences also use these methods extensively; they differ from Natural Sciences primarily in the fact that natural scientists tend to restrict their work to the application of these methods to the natural world as opposed to human constructs.
- At least two-thirds of class content must focus on careful and critical analysis of scientific phenomena. These “phenomena” can include previously published data regarding the natural world, as well as data/observations generated by the students themselves. This analysis must involve student-driven inquiry and the opportunity to apply methods under the guidance of a qualified instructor; it cannot be simply a description of what is known.
- At least two-thirds of the assigned work must ask the students to apply the scientific method or employ scientific argumentation utilizing data from the natural world, including existing data or data they collect themselves. Examples include but are not limited to: hands-on classroom activities, lab activities, field-based observations, relating scientific principles to current events, and critical analysis of science in the popular media. Simply visiting a museum or responding to a science-oriented film or documentary is not sufficient.
- At least two-thirds of the course grade must derive from careful and critical analysis of scientific phenomena, as described above.
- Courses must earn at least 3 credits to count towards the Natural Sciences requirement.
The Formal Sciences (FS) deal in absolute, necessary truths, not matters of opinion, historical accident, or current knowledge, and rely upon deductive reasoning to find the consequences of given premises. These disciplines can exist independently of the external world, but the formal sciences are also used to solve problems in the natural sciences, social sciences, and even the arts. A Formal Science course typically teaches students to distinguish valid from invalid inferences, recognize and construct examples, generalize and abstract from similar phenomena, use and construct precise definitions, and construct and evaluate solutions to formally-specified problems.
- The Formal Science designation is not about quoting theorems of math or logic so much as whether students can follow and construct a chain of logical reasoning, distinguish valid from invalid inferences, distinguish necessary from sufficient conditions, etc. Courses that are largely mechanical and skills-based generally will NOT qualify as formal science.
- The two-third rules above were developed with a 3-credit course in mind; that is, 2 credits of the course time, materials, and grading must be allocated to formal science. An intensive 2 credit course can qualify for the Formal Science if 100% of the course time, materials, and grading are focused on formal science. This will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The Arts (A) are primarily concerned with capacity for and exercise of creativity through expression, contextual understanding and critical analysis. Courses that meet these requirements seek to generate, examine and analyze original artistic ideas, communicating about or through various means of expression. Assignments in the Arts may include written and oral presentations of artistic intent, the creation of an original artwork, design, performance, or written work, and the critical and comparative analyses of your work and/or the work of others. A course in the Arts teaches students to discover, create and communicate through representation of thoughts and ideas, understand creative works within historical and contemporary contexts, and critically/comparatively analyze original work as a means of expression.
- At least two-thirds of class meetings and student assignments, as well at two-thirds of the specifics of course grading, must:
- focus on using tools and techniques of the artistic subjects/genres in the creation of original work or, where appropriate, in non-artistic contexts; or/li>
- focus on the critical and/or historical analysis of creative techniques used in the creation of artistic work, on the nature and/or qualities of finished work or works of artistic labor, and/or on the social, psychological, political, economic or contextual effects of artistic work, as expressed in essays, papers or presentations, or/li>
- a combination of the above, via diverse assignments (e.g., essays, papers, in-class presentations) fulfilling the parameters outlined in the faculty-approved definition of an artistic subject, creative product, and/or analysis.
- Artistic disciplines, genres, and/or practices recognized by the subcommittee are theatre performance/design/writing, dance/choreography, music performance/composition, fine arts (sculpture, painting, drawing, ceramics, jewelry, photography or graphics, including computer-generated), art history, film/media creation, the writing of poetry, of short- and long-form fiction, of creative nonfiction, and arts criticism.
- Courses offering fewer than 3 credits will be considered on a case-by-case, and can be acceptable if the course is deemed to provide an intensive enough Artistic experience.
Criteria for earning credit in Learning Goals vary depending on the nature of the goal itself, but for all Learning Goals, the goal must be explicitly taught as part of that class’s purpose, not simply assigned and graded. Please read the following carefully before submitting.
The rubrics used to score students’ command of these areas of learning are linked to the title of each learning goal. These rubrics have been developed by groups of faculty particularly expert/concerned with the specific goals. They are living documents deliberately subject to refinement and revision in the light of our experiences with the Capstone Assessment program.
While there are many methods for teaching writing skills, to earn General Education credit for Communication writing (CW) assignments must include a discrete set of stages making up a clear writing process, during which students are required to produce at least one first draft, receive oral or written feedback on that draft from the instructor (or designated surrogate, such as a Teaching or Writing Assistant assigned to the course), and are required to revise before submission for a final grade. Feedback on assignments must not be limited to surface corrections; some attention to the formal and generic requirements of writing in the particular discipline must be evident in the course.
- Assignments should ask students to take on analytical tasks appropriate to college-level work. For instance, a series of “reflections,” “responses,” or “reports” should be accompanied by at least one sustained analytical writing project.
- While there is no minimum number of pages for a communication writing course, grading on written projects should account for at least 50% of the course grade (as opposed to exams or other non-revised writing).
- All communication writing courses are capped at 25 students or fewer.
- Courses with fewer than 3 credits will be considered if the amount of writing equals that expected from a 3-credit communication writing course.
» Rubric for Written Communication (PDF)
While there are many methods for teaching oral communication skills, Adelphi foregrounds the presentational, interpretive and expressive modes. The presentational mode centers on creating and developing oral presentations, following guidelines specific to each discipline. The interpretive mode trains for the public presentation of performed texts, such as drama. The expressive mode centers on the delivery of personal thoughts or professional statements through an assessable but less formal event, such as public debate, roundtable discussions or the extended expression of perceptions or opinions. Students are required to give two or more presented assignments, for which they receive written or oral feedback from the instructor or a designated surrogate. Students are also required to incorporate the feedback to improve their skills before submission for a final grade. Attention to the formal and generic requirements of oral communication in the particular discipline must be evident in the course. Feedback on presentations must not be limited to physical comportment or technology.
- Presentation assignments should ask students to present on analytical ideas appropriate to college-level work.
- Interpretive/expressive material will be assessed via clear criteria (such as might be expressed in a rubric) specific to the discipline.
- Grading on oral presentations should account for at least 25% of the course grade (as opposed to exams or other assessments).
- Courses with fewer than 3 credits will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
» Rubric for Oral Communication (PDF)
Quantitative Reasoning (Q) is the ability to understand and apply numerical information. This understanding requires the skills of computation, reading of tables and graphs, statistical evaluation of data, and presentation of quantitative arguments.
Courses that devote a substantial part of their activities to the teaching and assessment of these skills can be used to fulfill these requirements. Students must be taught many of these skills, given an opportunity to apply what they have learned and given feedback on their skill levels. The final grade in the course must reflect, at least in part, students’ mastery of these skills/techniques/concepts.
- According to the AAC&U, the ability to comprehend and apply quantitative data is important in the development of logical thinking. A course that teaches quantitative reasoning must ensure students can comprehend and phrase sophisticated arguments supported by quantitative evidence and can clearly communicate those arguments in a variety of formats, such as tables, graphs, mathematical modeling, and statistical arguments.
- Courses satisfying this requirement must provide explicit instruction in quantitative reasoning.
- At least 50% of class meetings must focus on quantitative reasoning.
- At least 50% of the grade must be based on evaluated quantitative exercises, such as statistics, graphical analysis, or problem solving using mathematical methods and/or models.
- Courses with fewer than 3 credits will be considered if the amount of work related to quantitative reasoning equals that expected from a 3-credit quantitative reasoning course.
» Rubric for Quantitative Reasoning (PDF)
Information Literacy (L) is the ability 1) to identify information needed; 2) to find the information; 3) to evaluate the information; and 4) to use the information appropriately and ethically. Each of the four categories above must be addressed as appropriate, but not all steps within a category must be included. A detailed list of information literacy skills is provided below. To earn information literacy credit, a course may include any or all of the following: writing (print or electronic); oral presentation; electronic presentation.
This requirement is best met by courses that incorporate the teaching of IL into a course in the major, so that students learn to do research and cite literature in their area of focus. A course must teach information literacy skills and evaluate these skills through assignments that count significantly towards the final grade. Students must provide documentation of the steps taken to complete these assignments. Library faculty are available to teach course specific information literacy skills upon faculty request.
- Show that students are taught each of the following components of Information Literacy.
- how to identify relevant sources for assignment, beyond course materials;
- how to find the information using a variety of sources
- how to evaluate the information, e.g. scholarly vs. popular; primary vs. secondary
- how to use the information appropriately and ethically, e.g. proper citing, demonstrate an understanding of plagiarism.
- Require (a) graded project(s) – written, oral, and/or electronic – that:
- Show(s) evidence of each of the above 4 components, including the process the students use to access and to evaluate the needed information, e.g. research journal, annotated bibliography, citation worksheet, database search strategies worksheet, web evaluation worksheet, etc.
- is (are) a minimum of 50% of the final grade for the course.
Courses offering fewer than 3 credits will be considered on a case-by-case, and can be acceptable if the course is deemed to provide an intensive enough learning experience in the areas outlined above.
The Library has prepared a useful teaching guide with lessons, handouts and assessment tools to assist faculty address the Information Literacy components.
» Rubric for Information Literacy (PDF)
Global Learning / Civic Engagement
Global Learning and Civic Engagement (G) comprise one learning goal with two distinct paths toward the same ultimate end: encouraging engagement and intercultural awareness among Adelphi undergraduates. Students may take two Global Learning, two Civic Engagement, or one of each. Departments should seek “G” designation by proposing their course as either “Global Learning” or “Civic Engagement,” but not both. Those designations will be retained for purposes of assessment but will not be visible on Degree Audit (or its successor).
Key criteria that distinguish Global Learning from Civic Engagement within the “G” designation:
- Broad in scope
- Stresses interconnectedness
- Students’ culture may be one focus
- Can be historical or contemporary
- Localized to students’ culture
- Stresses awareness, engagement, and action
- Students’ culture must be a main focus
- Must explicitly engage with contemporary world
Criteria for Global Learning Designation
Courses meeting the Global Learning goal focus on global connectedness of human societies and their environments. They analyze the diverse and complex linkages between discrete communities and systems historically, philosophically, socially, culturally, linguistically, environmentally, politically, economically, and/or physically. Courses incorporate assignments that assess students’ understanding of these issues. Courses from any discipline that emphasize these elements will qualify.
- For Global Learning designation, a course must be broad (but not necessarily global) in geographic scope and must explore the interconnections between nations, cultures, and peoples as described above.
- For Global Learning designation, a course need not involve the students’ own cultural, social, national, or historical background in exploring interconnections unless it examines a single nation or culture. Such courses, including study abroad courses, will qualify for Global Learning designation if assignments and other course content require students explicitly to engage the culture they are visiting in the terms outlined above.
- A course focusing solely on the United States cannot qualify for Global Learning designation (but could qualify for Civic Engagement).
- A majority of all course content (lectures, readings, in-class exercises, writing assignments, exams, oral presentations, and so forth), including more than half the course grade, must explicitly address the issues outlined in the definition above. It is expected that, in most cases, sample assignments will be submitted along with syllabi for Global Learning designation.
- Courses offering fewer than 3 credits will be considered on a case-by-case, and can be acceptable if the course is deemed to provide an intensive enough learning experience in the areas outlined above.
Criteria for Civic Engagement Designation
Courses meeting the Civic Engagement learning goal focus on the idea of the individual’s responsibility to the community. They emphasize the potential and real consequences of the intercultural engagement of individuals and groups with others within the broader societies of which we are a part. By means of interaction with, awareness, and understanding of other members of a shared community, courses address contemporary philosophical, ethical and moral issues of civic engagement through historical, contemporary, and/or theoretical approaches.
- Courses devote substantial time to addressing these ideas and assessing students on these factors, either through traditional courses or via credit-bearing experiential learning such as internships and service learning and co-curricular work.
- For Civic Engagement designation, courses must include the student’s own background and experiences in exploring the individual’s responsibility to society.
- Civic engagement is also understood as promoting intercultural understanding WITHIN the student’s own culture (as distinct from Global Learning, where the focus is EXTERNAL). However, studying the activities of others separate from the student’s own background and experiences, whether in time or space, will not be sufficient to earn Civic Engagement designation. In such a course, assignments must explicitly engage students in the terms above.
- Students may earn Civic Engagement credit through traditional courses or through co-curricular activities. For the latter to qualify for Civic Engagement designation a credit-bearing written reflection under faculty supervision that specifically addresses the goals listed above is necessary. This would be listed on the student’s transcript as an Independent Study under the 0137/Interdisciplinary Studies department code.
- A majority of all course content (lectures, readings, in-class exercises, writing assignments, exams, oral presentations, and so forth), including more than half the course grade, must explicitly address the issues outlined in the definition above. It is expected that, in most cases, sample assignments will be submitted along with syllabi for Civic Engagement designation.
- Courses offering fewer than 3 credits will be considered on a case-by-case, and can be acceptable if the course is deemed to provide an intensive enough learning experience in the areas outlined above.
» Rubric for Global Learning (PDF)
» Rubric for Civic Engagement (PDF)