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Upon completing CMU's Essential Learning program, a student will be able to:

Produce effective arguments and summaries in written English.

During the course of their lives, CMU students will use written English as a tool for personal expression, debate, and analysis. To be flexible and adept writers, students must demonstrate skill in succinctly stating the ideas of others and articulating their own positions in relation to a variety of rhetorical challenges. At the Essential Learning level, students should clearly convey their summaries and arguments in writing.

Present information effectively in spoken English.

CMU students will need to use spoken English as a vehicle for increasing knowledge and fostering understanding in their listeners. As with writing, students must demonstrate skill in clearly and succinctly stating the ideas of others, and in conveying their own positions in a rhetorically adept manner. At the Essential Learning level, students should strive to develop a recognizable organizational pattern and an understandable central message when they speak.

Demonstrate quantitative literacy.

CMU students must be comfortable working with numerical information across a variety of contexts. Students should be able to decipher and construct sophisticated arguments using a variety of formats (words, tables, graphs, mathematical equations, etc., as appropriate). Essential Learning students will be able to convert information into and out of mathematical representations, and successfully perform fundamental calculations a majority of the time. 

Critically examine and evaluate an argument.

The ability to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments that surround us is foundational to being an effective citizen and student. Determining the intellectual and rhetorical soundness of the ideas around them allows students to have greater control over their own understanding of the world and enhances their ability to control the situations they will encounter in that world. Essential Learning students will complete the program with an ability to recognize and critique significant patterns in the way an argument is structured.

Demonstrate investigative and analytical thinking skills to solve problems.

Ultimately, students must be able to martial their skills for investigation and analysis in ways that allow them to solve theoretical and practical problems. The process of designing, evaluating and implementing a strategy to achieve a desired goal puts the academic ability of students into motion across a variety of disciplines and workplace situations. Essential Learning students should be able to propose at least one approach to solving a problem within a single context.

Select and use appropriate information or techniques in an academic project.

In a society with so much information and so few filters, students must demonstrate skill in choosing sources of information and strategies for deploying them. The ability to use this skill in an academic project translates into an ability to continue and control one's learning for a lifetime. At the Essential Learning level, students will acquire library skills and technical skills appropriate to their course projects.

Construct an academic project using techniques and methodologies from multiple disciplines.

One mark of an educated person is the ability to recognize that various disciplines approach ideas and problems in different ways. The distribution of courses within the Essential Learning program ensures that students will construct a matrix of knowledge that fosters a multiplicity of viewpoints for thinking about the world. Essential Learning students, at a minimum, will bring multiple disciplinary viewpoints to bear on a single set of issues or ideas in the Milestone Course.

How are these learning outcomes assessed?

Each semester, faculty across campus review examples of student work completed in Essential Learning courses the previous semester. The results of this review are used to make improvements to the  Essential Learning program.

More information about assessment is available on the Assessment of Student Learning website.