Towards fostering “Deep Learning”


The term ‘deep learning’ began to be used in the 1980s when Noel Entwistle and colleagues published research that distinguished between something they called “deep” versus “surface” learning. 


The Iowa Shakespeare Experience (ISE) subscribes to the following working definition of “deep learning”, from the INET (International Networking for Educational Transformation): “Deep learning is secured when, through personalization, the conditions of student learning are transformed.”


In sum, Deep Leaning occurs when the student has the intention to understand ideas or learn for their own purposes, or for themselves. This can be called “learning for living”.  By contrast, when students are learning “for the test”, have little life interest in what they are learning, or are learning merely to cope with course requirements, surface learning is what tends to occur.  


Houghton (2004) Learning and Teaching Theory

Simply stated, deep learning involves the critical analysis of new ideas, linking them to already known concepts and principles, and leads to understanding and long-term retention of concepts so that they can be used for problem solving in unfamiliar contexts. Deep learning promotes understanding and application for life. In contrast, surface learning is the tacit acceptance of information and memorization as isolated and unlinked facts. It leads to superficial retention of material for examinations and does not promote understanding or long-term retention of knowledge and information.



Deep learning can be most effective when combined with other student-centered theoretical strategies designed to enhance learning, such as using information about individualized student learning styles, taking a multiple intelligences approach, seeking to foster emotional intelligence, approaching teaching with knowledge of how the brain works, mapping for learning, and working towards goals like Guy Claxton’s 4 Rs’ (resilience, resourcefulness, reflectiveness and reciprocity


The ISE believes that one of the most helpful ways to use the concept of “deep learning” is to conceive of deep learning as occurring through various gateways which tend to foster a more personalized, more meaningful interaction with the material being learned.  The question educators must ask is: How can we work across gateways in a systematic way to ensure that various paths to learning complement one another?”



INET identifies the following examples of deep learning “gateways” which are used by the ISE:

• Relating idea to previous knowledge and experience

• Looking for patterns and underlying principles

• Examining logic and argument cautiously and critically

• Becoming actively interested in course content

Working with the teacher and other students to help plan and direct the class (“Student Voice”)



• Studying without reflecting on purpose or strategy

• Treating the course as unrelated bits of knowledge

• Memorising facts and procedures routinely





Assessment for learning seeks to develop learners through handing

over to them areas of teaching and learning that have traditionally been

regarded as the intellectual property of the teacher. Such strategies as sharing with students lesson objectives,outcomes and the criteria by which their work will be judged engages and empowers students.. 

Key to the effectiveness of learning to learn programmes is the

development of meta-cognitive skills, in other words thinking about

and reflecting on one’s own learning. Through the development

of meta-cognition students are encouraged to monitor, evaluate,

control and reflect on their own learning, thus making a powerful

contribution towards their development as confident and

independent learners.

Interactions between the gateways

The overlaps and interactions between the three gateways are

complex. The three gateways in isolation can have positive impacts

on students and on the relationships between students and teachers.

However, when schools explore the interactions between the

gateways, they move towards deep learning. For example, student

voice has clear links to both learning to learn and to assessment

for learning. If a school is to implement assessment for learning

successfully, it is essential that students and teachers develop

successful working relationships. They also need a shared language

of learning (developed through learning to learn), which enables

students to engage with the process. Such relationships and the

confidence to speak with teachers about learning issues can be

developed through student voice.

The links between learning to learn and assessment for learning

require the development of meta-cognitive skills. Both gateways

encourage students to think about their learning and the ways in

which it is developing. Both concentrate on the learner as an

individual and seek to explore the key questions: Where are you

now? Where do you need to be? How are you going to get there?

Through the dynamic dialogue of assessment for learning (in part

developed through student voice), and through the insights and

understandings gained through learning to learn, students gradually

gain the meta-cognitive control that helps them articulate their

needs and develop as responsible, confident, independent learners.


xxxxxxxxxxThrough this work staff and students

have developed a shared language of learning and begun to take

steps towards co-construction. This work provided a springboard

for the school to make progress on a second deep learning

gateway, student voice.


The three gateways that are clustered to form deep learning interact

in highly complex ways. Critically, all three gateways create conditions

and opportunities for staff and students to engage in co-construction.

Student voice research projects can quickly lead to student suggestions

for improvement to systems and structures. In assessment for

learning, close partnerships between students and staff can lead to

the co-construction of assessment criteria and lesson planning. In

learning to learn students are encouraged to reflect on their own

learning; at its best this enables them to develop individual learning

plans with staff with a high degree of confidence. Working on any

one of these three gateways makes it easier to progress on one or

both of the others. 


Clearly the interactions between these gateways are fundamental to

the development of deep learning. All three help to develop specific

learning needs, and place engagement at the heart of the process.

Together they help to develop confidence, independence and

responsibility along with meta-cognitive control. In turn these are

indicators of the student for whom learning has been successfully

personalised. They contribute to the capacity for co-constructed

approaches to teaching and learning. The three emphasise that

learning is not something that is done to you, it is an active process

in which you participate with your teachers. More crucially, when put

together all three help to develop what we are calling ‘the conditions

for learning’. This is summarised in figure 2.


Putting theory into practice

The following table (Table 1) compiled from the work of Biggs (1999), Entwistle (1988) and Ramsden (1992) provides some very valuable characteristics of the approaches and illustrates the importance of how we manage the curriculum impacts on the learning process. For example, clearly stated academic aims, opportunities to exercise some choice and well aligned assessment strategies that help students to build confidence can be found among the factors identified as encouraging a deep approach. 


Table 1 Compares the characteristics and factors that encourage Deep and Surface Approaches to learning. (Compiled from Biggs (1999), Entwistle (1988) and Ramsden (1992)) 


Deep Learning

Surface Learning


Examining new facts and ideas critically, and tying them into existing cognitive structures and making numerous links between ideas.

Accepting new facts and ideas uncritically and attempting to store them as isolated, unconnected, items.


Looking for meaning.

Focussing on the central argument or concepts needed to solve a problem.

Interacting actively.
Distinguishing between argument and evidence.

Making connections between different modules.

Relating new and previous knowledge.

Linking course content to real life.

Relying on rote learning.

Focussing on outwards signs and the formulae needed to solve a problem.

Receiving information passively.Failing to distinguish principles from examples.

Treating parts of modules and programmes as separate.

Not recognising new material as building on previous work.

Seeing course content simply as material to be learnt for the exam.

Encouraged by Students'

Having an intrinsic curiosity in the subject.

Being determined to do well and mentally engaging when doing academic work.

Having the appropriate background knowledge for a sound foundation.

Having time to pursue interests, through good time management.

Positive experience of education leading to confidence in ability to understand and succeed.

Studying a degree for the qualification and not being interested in the subject.

Not focussing on academic areas, but emphasising others (e.g. social, sport).

Lacking background knowledge and understanding necessary to understand material.

Not enough time / too high a workload.

Cynical view of education, believing that factual recall is what is required.

High anxiety.

Encouraged by Teachers'

Showing personal interest in the subject.

Bringing out the structure of the subject.

Concentrating on and ensuring plenty of time for key concepts.

Confronting students' misconceptions.Engaging students in active learning.

Using assessments that require thought, and requires ideas to be used together.

Relating new material to what students already know and understand.

Allowing students to make mistakes without penalty and rewarding effort.

Being consistent and fair in assessing declared intended learning outcomes, and hence establishing trust (see constructive alignment).

Conveying disinterest or even a negative attitude to the material.

Presenting material so that it can be perceived as a series of unrelated facts and ideas.

Allowing students to be passive.

Assessing for independent facts (short answer questions).

Rushing to cover too much material.

Emphasizing coverage at the expense of depth.

Creating undue anxiety or low expectations of success by discouraging statements or excessive workload.

Having a short assessment cycle.


The last row of the table provides us with some simple guidelines as the "do's" and "don'ts" in teaching. 

We need to think carefully about the assessment and assessment processes, as it is this part of the curriculum that affects the students' approaches to learning most. We need to construct assessment that gives students opportunity to receive feedback, but also must make the assessment relevant to the real world of engineering. 


Biggs, J. (1999). Teaching for Quality Learning at University, SHRE and Open University Press. 

Entwistle , N. (1988). Styles of Learning and Teaching, David Fulton. 

Houghton, W. (2004) Engineering Subject Centre Guide: Learning and Teaching Theory for Engineering Academics. Loughborough: HEA Engineering Subject Centre.

Laurillard, D. (1993). Rethinking University Teaching, a framework for the effective use of educational technology, Routledge. 

Marton, F. and Booth, S. (1997). Learning and Awareness, Lawrence Erblaum Associates, chapter 2 

Prosser, M. and Trigwell, K. (1999). Understanding Learning and Teaching, on Deep and Surface Learning, Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press, chapter 4. 

Ramsden, P. (1992). Learning to Teach in Higher Education, Routledge. 


The chapter above was taken from 

 The features of Deep and Surface approaches can be summarised thus:




Focus is on “what is signified” 

Focus is on the “signs” (or on the learning as a signifier of something else)

Relates previous knowledge to new knowledge 

Focus on unrelated parts of the task 

Relates knowledge from different courses 

Information for assessment is simply memorised 

Relates theoretical ideas to everyday experience 

Facts and concepts are associated unreflectively 

Relates and distinguishes evidence and argument 

Principles are not distinguished from examples 

Organises and structures content into coherent whole 

Task is treated as an external imposition 

Emphasis is internal, from within the student 

Emphasis is external, from demands of assessment 


(based on Ramsden, 1988)  

The Surface learner is trying to “suss out” what the teacher wants and to provide it, and is likely to be motivated primarily by fear of failure. One interesting study has suggested that efforts by teachers to convey that what they want is Deep learning only succeeds in getting Surface learners to engage in ever more complex contextualising exercises, trying to use Surface strategies to reproduce the features of the Deep approach. (Ramsden, Beswick and Bowden, 1986)

Surface learning tends to be experienced as an uphill struggle, characterised by fighting against boredom and depressive feelings. Deep learning is experienced as exciting and a gratifying challenge (more often, at least!)

There is some evidence that assessment methods can “reach See, inter al. this excellent paper from the Assessment Standards Knowledge exchange (ASKe) at Oxford Brookes University.back” into courses in such a way as to make Surface approaches more likely: it has not so far been demonstrated that appropriate assessment methods can of themselves encourage Deep learning, although the "Assessment for Learning" movement is working along those lines. 

The Deep and Surface distinction is a very popular one, much researched, using two main instruments; the Study Process Questionnaire (Biggs, 1987) and Entwistle's Approaches to Study Inventory. Although the original ideas were derived from the “phenomenographic” approach of open-ended measures factor-analysed to yield the basic Deep and Surface dimensions, later work has concentrated on refining scales to produce the dimensions (thus explicating the “symptoms” of each approach), and thereby regarded the approaches themselves as given.

One characteristic of the Surface approach is its tendency to “miss the point” of the learning. My reading of the evidence is that this may be a generalisation which is not completely supported by the evidence, particularly bearing in mind the non-subject-specific questionnaire instruments used which may not be able to get at this feature very easily.

What does not appear to have been researched is the problem of the structure of the knowledge being taught. While it is clear that either approach can be applied to practically anything, some subjects call forth a Surface approach more readily than others — law and medicine are perhaps examples. (That is why the adoption of problem-based learning in medical training was such an important innovation.) While there is a correlation between Deep approaches and better results in summative assessments, nothing seems to have been done on outcomes in professional practice beyond the institution.

Two other points:

  •  Many current university students have been "coached" by their teachers to get the grades they need for admission: they have been trained to be surface learners, and their experience is that it "works". Why should they take the risk of working in a different way?  
  •  Surface learning seems to be more likely when learning is isolated from practice. Practice has its own problems, in terms of "survival" practice, but surface learning is perhaps a function of the isolation of academic life from the real world where knowledge and ignorance have real consequences, rather than merely affecting assessment grades. (See the discussion of "communities of practice") 

Conceptions of Learning

“Learning” means different things to different people. Säljö (1979) classified the conceptions held by respondents in his interview-based study into five categories:  

  1. Learning as a quantitative increase in knowledge. Learning is acquiring information or “knowing a lot”  
  2. Learning as memorising. Learning is storing information that can be reproduced. 
  3. Learning as acquiring facts, skills and methods that can be retained and used as necessary. 
  4.  Learning as making sense or abstracting meaning. Learning involves relating parts of the subject matter to each other and to the real world. 
  5.  Learning as interpreting and understanding reality in a different way. Learning involves comprehending the world by re-interpreting knowledge. 

There is a clear qualitative shift between conceptions 3 and 4. It has been argued that 1, 2 and 3 are views which underpin surface learning strategies, while 4 and 5 relate to deep learning.


Related Links:

Contact Us 

Engineering Subject Centre Copyright 2000 - 2010. All rights reserved.



Paper presented at the TLRP Conference, Leicester, November 2000

Promoting deep learning through teaching and assessment:

conceptual frameworks and educational contexts.

Noel Entwistle

University of Edinburgh

Knowledge transformation depends, in part, on the nature of the concepts used. To have an impact on

practice, in my view, the concepts have to be broad enough to map on to everyday experience and be

couched in accessible language, preferably with metaphorical associations. 

Research from the student’s perspective

Outcomes of learning

A deep strategic approach to studying is generally related to high levels of academic achievement, but only

where the assessment procedures emphasise and reward personal understanding. Otherwise, surface

strategic approaches may well prove more adaptive. Even where the assessment does stress understanding,

the levels students reach will still, of course, vary. The idea of qualitatively different outcomes of learning

was another product of the work of Marton and his colleagues (Marton & Säljö, 1976, 1997), and was

operationalised independently by Biggs and Collis (1983) through their SOLO taxonomy. In a series of

interview studies in Edinburgh, we have been exploring the forms of understanding experienced by final

year: five distinct categories were identified which varied in terms of their breadth, depth and structure

(Entwistle, 1995, 1998a; Entwistle & Entwistle, 1997). Building on the earlier research, we were able to

suggest how to describe, in general terms, the qualitative differences in outcomes of learning found in the

ways students tackle their written work. These are outlined in Table 1.

Table 1

Levels of understanding as outcomes of learning

Mentioning Incoherent bits of information without any obvious structure

Describing Brief descriptions of topics derived mainly from material provided

Relating Outline, personal explanations lacking detail or supporting argument

Explaining Relevant evidence used to develop structured, independent arguments

Conceiving Individual conceptions of topics developed through reflection

These attempts at describing outcomes of learning have been generic and can only be used to guide the

description of outcomes within a course or subject area. 

Conceptions of teaching

Previously, we introduced the notion of a hierarchy of conceptions of learning: more recent research has

suggested a similar hierarchy describing conceptions of teaching. In interviews, faculty members have

been asked to describe what they mean by ‘learning’ and ‘teaching’, and to indicate their beliefs about

teaching and assessment (Prosser, Trigwell & Taylor, 1994; Van Driel et al., 1997; Kember, 1998). From such

studies, three main categories typically emerge, ones which closely parallel in their underlying meaning

those found by both Säljö and Perry. Some colleagues talk about the importance of covering the syllabus

and ensuring that students acquire the correct information and ideas: they have a conception which has

been described as teacher-focused, and content-oriented. Another group was described as focusing on student

activity, with an emphasis on providing assignments designed to ensure active learning and helping students

to develop effective study skills. Yet this group still saw learning only from their own perspective. The final

group, smaller than the other two, was labelled student-focused, and learning-oriented. Staff in this group

were more concerned with helping students to develop personal understanding and more sophisticated

conceptions, and designed their teaching and assessment accordingly.

Teachers with these contrasting conceptions of teaching, tend to hold corresponding views on assessment

procedures and on the ability and motivation of their students (Van Driel et al., 1997). Staff who are contentoriented

are likely to see assessment as designed to demonstrate detailed factual knowledge of the syllabus.

They also tend to consider the outcomes of learning as being almost entirely the responsibility of the students

themselves, depending on their ability and motivation. The student-focused group tend to use more varied

methods of assessment and to be aware of their own responsibility for encouraging students to develop

deep levels of understanding. The conceptions of both learning and teaching held by teachers also affect

their approaches to teaching (Trigwell & Prosser, 1999). The chain has been completed by showing that the

approaches to teaching adopted by teachers also influences their students’ approaches to studying and

through those, the learning outcomes.

Previously we traced a similar chain of connections from conceptions of learning, through approaches to

studying, to levels of understanding. There are thus influences coming from the student’s own ways of

thinking and studying, and from their experiences of teaching. Putting the two sets of influences together

produces the pattern shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3

Influences on approaches to studying and outcomes of learning

Transforming research findings into improved practice

The conceptual framework offered in Figure 3 shows the conceptual link, established by research, between

conceptions of teaching and levels of understanding. If we are to transform this conceptual framework into

a form more relevant to practitioners, we need to make clear how different ways of teaching and assessment,

and other aspects of the teaching-learning environment, affect the quality and effectiveness of student

learning. This is suggested in Figure 4 and explained more fully elsewhere (Entwistle, 1998b). It provides a

much broader concept map in which teaching, assessment procedures, and other aspects of the teachinglearning

environment are all shown as influencing the outcome of learning. Again this diagram derives

from research findings, but the links have only been partially established so far; gaps have been filled by

drawing on professional experience.

Figure 4

A conceptual overview of the teaching-learning process

Essentially, Figure 4 seeks to draw attention to the interaction between the characteristics of the students in

the top half of the diagram and those of the teacher and the department in the bottom half. Student

characteristics are divided into those which describe cognitive aspects and ways of thinking on the left,

and those which are mainly affective or related to study practices on the right. The influence of teaching is

indicated in the bottom right quadrant, but the approach to teaching is shown in detail only in relation to

lecturing, where most research evidence currently exists. The bottom right indicates aspects of the teachinglearning

environment over which individual lecturers have much less control, such as assessment procedures

and the choice offered to students.

An important feature of the diagram is the division between the upper and lower halves, where the

perceptions of meaning and relevance and of task requirements are shown. Research has shown that, while

teaching-learning environments affect approaches to learning and studying, they do not do so in a uniform

way. The effects are mediated by the ways in which the individual student perceives aspects of the provision

(Entwistle & Ramsden, 1983).

One problem with the diagram is that it cannot bring out the nature of the relationships between the concepts

shown. Research findings have indicated, for example, that while level, pace, structure and clarity all

contribute to the effectiveness of lecturing, it is generally explanation, enthusiasm, and empathy which are

most likely to evoke a deep approach. Similarly, it appears that assessment which encourages students to

think for themselves — such as essay questions, applications to new contexts, and problem-based questions

— shifts students in a class towards a deep approach. In contrast, procedures perceived by students as

requiring no more than the accurate reproduction of information lead to a predominance of surface

approaches (Thomas & Bain, 1984; Scouller, 1998).

Another problem with the conceptual overview is that it fails to indicate the influence of different ways of

selecting and organising content. To some extent at least, the teacher can decide the aims of a course, the

assignments set, and aspects of the assessment procedure. As Project Zero at Harvard has demonstrated,

careful design of the curriculum can have a powerful influence on what students come to learn. The research

group there has developed a Teaching for Understanding framework which encourages teachers to set

overarching goals in terms of understanding, to select generative topics which encourage thinking, and to

design assignments which require students to reach and demonstrate understanding (Wiske, 1998). These

understanding performances not only demonstrate understanding, they are also intended to develop it by

requiring higher level thinking.

Performances of understanding require students to show their understanding in an observable way. They make

students’ thinking visible. It is not enough for students’ to reshape, expand, extrapolate from, and apply their

knowledge in the privacy of their own thoughts... Such an understanding would be untried, possibly fragile, and

virtually impossible to assess. (Blythe et al., 1998, p. 63)

In higher education, Biggs (1999) has built on this framework to argue for the importance of constructive

alignment, in which the aims of a course are stated in terms which stress the importance of personal

understanding, with the curriculum and teaching-learning environment then being aligned directly to

support those aims.

Finally, recent research is suggesting that we need to take more account of the effects of past experience and

knowledge on how the teacher selects and interprets content knowledge. For example, Marton and Booth

(1997) see effective teaching as being dependent on the object of study created by the teacher, and note that

teachers can present their classes with very different objects of study even from the same syllabus. Effective

teaching, in their view, depends on ‘meetings of awareness’ between the teacher and the class, with the

teacher shaping the knowledge in ways designed to help students to understand it. That ability depends

on an empathetic awareness of what students already know and how they learn. They argue that

(pedagogy depends on) meetings of awareness, which we see as achieved through the experiences that teachers

and learners undertake jointly… Teachers mould experiences for their students with the aim of bringing about

learning, and the essential feature is that the teacher takes the part of the learnerThe teacher focuses on the

learner’s experience of the object of learning. Here we have (what we call) ‘thought contact’, (with) the teacher

moulding an object of study (for the students). (p.179)

A similar line of argument has been developed by Entwistle and Smith (2000) in distinguishing between

target understanding and personal understanding, and between historical and proximal influences on both

teachers and pupils in affecting outcomes of learning. The content of an external syllabus is the result of a

consultation process (and political will) which arrives at a certain content appropriate for a particular age

and ability group. That represents the formal target understanding. The syllabus, however, has then to be

interpreted by the teacher, and that interpretation depends on the teacher’s prior knowledge and experience,

not just of the subject matter, but also of pedagogy. Those are the historical influences. Proximal influences

come into play as the teacher constructs the specific object of study for the class.

The pupils experience a presentation of the teacher’s understanding of the syllabus - the teacher’s target

understanding, rather than the syllabus itself - but that is then interpreted in terms of their own personal

history and their current knowledge and initial understanding. This personal understanding is not just

formed from content knowledge; it also includes beliefs and feelings about the educational context based

on past experience. All of these components affect how the pupil reacts to the target set by the teacher.

Proximal influences are found within the classroom (emotional climate and social pressures) and from the

tasks set. Together, these then influence the strategies the pupil adopts, and the levels of effort and

engagement employed, and hence the level of understanding reached. When the teacher examines the

evidence of this personal understanding, it is judged in terms of the teacher’s own understanding. Thus,

when a teacher refers to a pupil ‘having understood’, that is actually the extent of the match between the

pupil’s personal understanding and the target understanding set by the teacher.

This whole pattern is illustrated in Figure 5 overleaf, but this diagram still captures only part of the overall

picture emerging from the research findings, and remains knowledge without the necessary direct impact

on the teacher. It is difficult enough to conceptualise all the influences on the processes of teaching and

learning, let alone to present them in ways which suggest practical ways of improving the quality and

effectiveness of learning outcomes. These tasks face the Teaching and Learning Research Programme. The

process of transforming research findings into workable and effective practice is both extremely difficult

and enormously important: without progress towards this end, research will still have little direct impact

on practice.

Figure 5

Concept map of influences on understanding in the classroom












Biggs, J. B. (1999). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Biggs, J. B. & Collis, K. F. (1982).Evaluating the quality of learning: the SOLO taxonomy. New York: Academic


Blythe, T. and associates (1998). The Teaching for Understanding Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bowden, J. & Marton, F. (1998). The University of Learning. London: Kogan Page.

Entwistle, N. J. (1994). Generative concepts and pedagogical fertility: Communicating research findings on

student learning. Presidential address to the European Association for Research on Learning and

Instruction. EARLI News, June, 1994, 9-15.

Entwistle, N. J. (1995). Frameworks for understanding as experienced in essay writing and in preparing for

examinations. Educational Psychologist, 30, 47-54.

Entwistle, N. J. (1998a). Approaches to learning and forms of understanding. In B. Dart and G. Boulton-

Lewis (Eds.), Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (pp. 72-101). Melbourne: Australian Council for

Educational Research.

Entwistle, N. J. (1998b). Improving teaching through research on student learning. In J. J. F. Forest (Ed.),

University Teaching: International Perspectives (pp. 73-112). New York: Garland.

Entwistle N. J. (2000). Approaches to studying and levels of understanding: the influences of teaching and

assessment. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research (Vol. XV) (pp. 156-

218). New York: Agathon Press.

Entwistle, N. J., & Entwistle, A. C. (1997). Revision and the experience of understanding. In F. Marton, D. J.,

Hounsell, & N. J. Entwistle (Eds.), The Experience of Learning (2nd ed.) (pp. 145-158). Edinburgh: Scottish

Academic Press.

Entwistle, N. J., McCune, V. & Walker, P. (2000). Conceptions, styles and approaches within higher education:

analytic abstractions and everyday experience. In R. J. Sternberg & L-F. Zhang (Eds.), Perspectives on

Cognitive, Learning, and Thinking Styles. Mahwah, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum (in press).

Entwistle, N.J., & Ramsden, P. (1983). Understanding Student Learning. London: Croom Helm.

Entwistle, N. J. & Smith, C. A. (2000). Target understanding and personal understanding: a question of

match (under review).

Entwistle, N. J. & Tait, H. (1996). Identifying students at risk through ineffective study strategies. Higher

Education, 31, 97-116.

Kember, D. (1998). Teaching beliefs and their impact on students’ approach to learning. In B. Dart & G.

Boulton-Lewis (Eds.), Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (pp. 1-25). Melbourne: Australian

Council for Educational Research.

Marton, F. (1994). Phenomenography. In T. Husen, and N. Postlethwaite (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of

Education (pp. 4424 - 4429). Oxford: Pergamon.

Marton, F. & Booth, S. (1997). Learning and Awareness. Mahwah, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Marton, F., & Säljö, R. (1976). On qualitative differences in learning. I. Outcome and process. British

Journal of Educational Psychology, 46, 4-11.

Marton, F., & Säljö, R. (1997). Approaches to learning. In F. Marton, D. J. Hounsell, & N. J. Entwistle (Eds.),

The Experience of Learning (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.

McCune, V. (1998). Academic development during the first year at university. In C. Rust (Ed.), Improving

Students as Learners (pp. 354-358). Oxford: Oxford Brookes University, Centre for Staff and Learning


McCune, V.& Entwistle, N. J. (2000). The deep approach to learning: analytic abstraction and idiosyncratic

development. Paper presented at the Innovations in Higher Education Conference, Helsinki, August

30- September 2, 2000.

Pask, G. (1976). Styles and strategies of learning. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46, 128-148.

Pask, G. (1988). Learning strategies, teaching strategies and conceptual or learning style. In R.R. R.R.

Schmeck (Ed.), Learning strategies and learning styles. New York: Plenum Press.

Perry, W.G. (1970). Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years: A Scheme. New York:

Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Pintrich, P. R. & Garcia, T. (1994). Self-regulated learning in college students: knowledge, strategies and

motivation. In P. R. Pintrich, D. R. Brown & C-E Weinstein (Eds.), Student Motivation Cognition and

Learning. (pp. 113-134). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Prosser, M., Trigwell, K., & Taylor, P. (1994). A phenomenographic study of academics’ conceptions of

science learning and teaching. Learning & Instruction, 4, 217-232.

Säljö, R. (1979). Learning in the Learner’s Perspective. I. Some Common-sense Conceptions. (Report 76). Gothenburg:

University of Gothenburg, Department of Education.

Scouller, K. (1998). The influence of assessment method on students’ learning approaches: Multiple choice

question examination versus assignment essay. Higher Education, 35, 453-452.

Tait, H., & Entwistle, N.J. (1996). Identifying students at risk through ineffective study strategies. Higher

Education, 31, 97-116.

Tait, H., Entwistle, N. J., & McCune, V. (1998). ASSIST: a re-conceptualisation of the Approaches to Studying

Inventory. In C. Rust (Ed.), Improving students as learners (pp. 262-271). Oxford: Oxford Brookes University,

Centre for Staff and Learning Development.Thomas, P. R., & Bain, J.D. (1984). Contextual dependence

of learning approaches: The effects of assessments. Human Learning, 3, 227-240.

Trigwell, K., Prosser, M., and Waterhouse, F. (1999). Relations between teachers’ approaches to teaching

and student learning. Higher Education, 37, 57-70.

Van Driel, J. H., Verloop, N., Van Werven, H. I., and Dekkers, H. (1997). Teachers’ craft knowledge and

curriculum innovation in higher engineering education. Higher Education, 34, 105-122.

Vermunt, J. (1998). The regulation of constructive learning processes. British Journal of Educational Psychology,

68, 149-171.

Wiske M. S. (1998) (Ed.), Teaching for Understanding. Linking Research with Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-





Measuring Student Learning Outcomes 

Bill Scroggins -- July 22, 2003 

What are measurable student learning outcomes? 

Measuring student learning outcomes, or SLOs, means determining if intended learning has actually occurred. Student learning includes the full breadth of education: acquisition of skills, mastery of concepts, and growth in life perspective. Can students titrate an acid? analyze market trends? express themselves creatively? Determining if the desired learning has occurred requires objectives that are clearly defined in measurable terms. Evaluating titration ability may be fairly straightforward, but what are the measurable indicators of creative expression? Challenging certainly, but those who teach in the creative arts make these determinations regularly. 

Learning outcomes are direct measures of learning, distinct from indirect measures such as graduation rates, course completion rates or even course grades. Indirect indicators do have value to an institution, but that value is in evaluating productivity and the extent to which the college is accomplishing related portions of its mission.1 In contrast, SLOs focus specifically on the individual’s skills, knowledge, and values. The assessment process should be able to distinguish between surface learning and deep learning. We have all experienced the student who can regurgitate information on a quiz but then is not able to perform when that information must be applied. Being able to describe the factors to be evaluated in analyzing market trends does not show the same level of learning as actually making that analysis successfully using real world information. To effectively evaluate learning, the tool used should be appropriate to the outcome being measured. Answering multiple-choice questions to determine critical thinking is not an authentic measure of the student’s actual ability to think critically. 

SLOs are useful at all levels of the educational process: individual classroom lessons, courses, programs, and college degrees. Feedback right during class about the effectiveness of a new lesson plan can be powerful in helping an instructor produce the desired learning. Course outlines specify SLOs, but can we provide evidence of the extent to which students who pass a course have actually met these objectives? Employers expect our students to be ready to perform in the workplace, and universities expect our transfers to be ready to do upper division work. Moreover, for an associate degree we require a breadth of general education courses. What learning do we expect to take place in GE courses, and have we measured whether or not that learning has occurred? 

Just gathering this information is not enough. The instructor must use classroom feedback to improve the lesson for the next time it is presented and, if the feedback shows that learning has not occurred satisfactorily, must try again until the objective is reached. If our programs do not produce students with the competencies that employers need, we must make adjustments. If we cannot be clear about the expected outcomes produced by general education, how can we expect the associate degree to be valued? Those of us who have devoted our lives to education know in our hearts the value of what we do. While it is daunting to be asked to justify the worth of the educational process, we should enter that domain with the assurance of a positive outcome, particularly when we, the educators, are given the opportunity to make the determination ourselves, rather than having externally imposed measurements shape our fate. 

1 For more on direct and indirect measures of student learning read “Methods of Assessment of Student Learning” by Peggy Maki of the American Association of Higher Education. (See MJC SLO Resource Book.) 

What is “assessment of student learning outcomes” and why should we do it? 

The teaching and learning process has as one of its core elements the assessment of student learning. The traditional focus of assessment has been on particular assignments culminating in a course grade with a collection of courses leading to a degree, credential or certificate. The assessment movement recognizes that assessment starts with individual assignments—but broadens the term to encompass the measurement of learning at the course, program, and college levels. Rather than assuming that knowledge and skills automatically result from the accretion process springing from individual assignments, the assessment movement seeks more global and comprehensive measures of cumulative learning.2 How do we know when students finish a course that they have all the skills and abilities intended for that course? How do we know when a student completes a major that they have learned what is needed to succeed in that field? What abilities, talents, and attitudes do we expect students to have when they complete a general education pattern, and how do we know they have those traits? 

Several sources have contributed to the growing assessment movement. 


• Our colleges and universities are educating an increasingly higher percentage of our population. These students bring a more diverse set of experiences and learning styles to our classrooms than ever before. Narrowly focused teaching methods are not as effective as they once were; hence the focus on a broader understanding of learning and thus also of teaching and assessment. 


• The public and its elected representatives as well as employers are increasingly asking for evidence that education is both effective in producing needed learning and cost effective. 


• Students are increasingly viewing themselves as customers and demanding evidence of the value of the educational product they are seeking. 


Within the higher education community, the assessment movement is seen as an educationally sound response to these concerns. Rather than having politicians setting curriculum policy or having funding based on measures not associated with learning, assessment is driven by educators attempting to strike an equilibrium between sound educational practice and evidence of productivity. 


Aren’t Grades Enough? 

Even if consistent evaluation of minimum course learning objectives was achieved, grades would still depend on factors in the hands of individual instructors (weight for assignments, importance of additional topics, etc.), and on student behavior (missed or late assignments, for example). 


Academic Freedom and SLOs 

Course objectives in course outlines of record have been required outcomes for all instructors for some time. By extension, SLOs should also be considered “minimum conditions” for a course. Academic freedom protects free expression in the classroom, allowing instructors to present material in the manner they see fit. The outcomes of the learning process, however, remain a responsibility of the institution as a whole. 

2 If time permits, read the following book before coming to the Student Learning Outcomes Institute: “Effective Grading: A Tool For Learning and Assessment” by Barbara Walvoord and Virginia Johnson Anderson, Jossey-Bass (1998), ISBN 0787940305. (Chapters 1, 5, and 11 are particularly on point for our discussion.) 



Exercise #1. Read the following resource documents and join in the group discussion on “Good Practices for Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes.” 

“An Assessment Manifesto” by College of DuPage (IL) 

“9 Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning” by AAHE 

“Palomar College Statement of Principles on Assessment” from Palomar College (CA) 

“Closing the Loop—Seven Common (Mis)Perceptions About Outcomes Assessment” by Tom Angelo 

“Five Myths of ‘Assessment’” by David Clement, faculty member, Monterey Peninsula College 






Some college of x has an interesting approach to the problem of mearuing across disciplines, and we embrace that

student outcomes, recognizing the value of increased and more appreciative interactions in the community:'s.pdf


Various colleges, particularly Pallomar, Department of Art

Learning Outcomes Common to all Programs:

1. Students in all programs demonstrate mastery of practical and conceptual knowledge

of the visual arts (appropriate to the degree program).

2. Students in all programs demonstrate abilities to: carry out scholarly and disciplined

inquiries in the visual arts; and participate actively in discourse analyzing critical issues

in the field.

3. Students in all programs demonstrate an ability to engage with Los Angeles as a major

cultural and international center of visual arts and related industries.

4. Students are qualified for admission into programs of advanced study and/or entrance

into professional careers.

5. Students in all programs demonstrate understanding of diverse cultural traditions and

aesthetic values embodied in the visual arts, past and present.

6. Students in all programs demonstrate abilities to develop collegial relationships and

work collaboratively with faculty and students.

7. Students in all programs demonstrate understanding of their roles and responsibilities

to participate actively and ethically in multicultural societies.

8. Students in all programs demonstrate abilities to: negotiate complex visual landscapes;

derive meaning from the visual arts; and pursue creative endeavors throughout their lives.

Learning Outcomes of the Master of Arts Program:

Graduates demonstrate the ability to produce and present an original body of work

through disciplined inquiry and discourse analyzing issues in a particular area of the

visual arts.

Learning outcomes of the Master of Fine Arts Program (Concentrations in Studio arts or


1. Graduates demonstrate the ability to produce and present a significant body of work

through disciplined inquiry and rigorous discourse analysis that makes a contribution to

the field (studio arts or design).

2. Graduates in Studio arts adopt the identity and attitude of a professional artist working

to produce art of high quality for public exhibition and presentation; or

3. Graduates in Design adopt the identity and attitude of a professional designer working

as a leader in design industries.

4. Graduates demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively with colleagues and

contribute to the vitality of the visual arts and design communities.

Department of Communication Studies

The learning outcomes of the TVF Program are organized under the traditional

assessment categories of attitudes, skills, and knowledge.

Undergraduate Outcomes

1. Students will demonstrate creative skill sets in the production of audio/video and

writing for media (Skills).

2. Students will critically analyze contemporary media productions, practices, and

impacts (Skills).

3. Students will know the structure, fundamental professional practices, and established

professional standards of contemporary media industries (Knowledge).

4. Students will develop the skills for effective career building self-presentation in their

professional interactions, communications, negotiations, and collaborations in media

industries (Skills).

5. Students will know the industrial, historical and aesthetic components of media

production (Knowledge).

6. Students will develop a greater appreciation for the necessity of collaboration, as well

as the collaborative ethics of professional media production (Attitudes).

7. Students will have a greater appreciation for the social responsibilities of

contemporary media, including responsibilities engaging notions of identity, ethics,

politics and culture (Attitudes).

Graduate Outcomes

1. Students will demonstrate creative writing skills in the production of projects,

screenplays and/or scholarly essays (Skills).

2. Students will gain competence as potential researchers and scholars in the field,

whether in doctoral study or other research-based positions (Skills).

3. Students will demonstrate advanced abilities to employ critical theories and insights in

analysis of contemporary media productions, practices and impacts (Skills).

4. Students will know the industrial, historical and aesthetic components of television

and film production (Knowledge).

5. Students will have a greater appreciation for the social responsibilities of

contemporary media, including responsibilities engaging notions of identity, ethics,

politics and culture (Attitudes).

6. Students will refine the skills for effective career building self-presentation in their

professional interactions, communications, negotiations, and collaborations in the realms

of higher education and media industries (Skills).

Direct connections can be drawn between these learning outcomes and the goals of the

program stated above. The goal of cultivating critical media literacy connects to all of

these learning outcomes; cultivating creative and professional skills to

undergraduate/graduate outcomes 1 & 2; developing professional proficiencies to

undergraduate outcomes 1, 3 & 5 and graduate outcome 2; and fostering an

understanding of media roles and responsibilities to undergraduate outcomes 3, 4 & 6 and

graduate outcomes 4 & 5.

The Communication Area seeks to engage faculty and students in the integrated acts of

active and transformative learning. This means that we want to see in our graduating

students what L. D. Fink1 calls “significant and lasting” transformation in terms of

foundational knowledge, application learning, integration of ideas, understanding the

human dimension of learning, caring interests or values, and/or learning how to learn. In

other words, by the end of our program, we want to see our students achieve the

following outcomes:

1.1.1 Foundational knowledge—the basic theoretical understanding of

the discipline and its subfields, which includes

a. Critical understanding of the key theories, methodologies, and

concepts in Communication and its subfields,

b. Ability to explain the verbal and nonverbal, historical and

cultural aspects and issues of communication in various

contexts, and

c. Understanding of the key patterns of communication in dyadic,

group, organizational, public, and cultural contexts.

1 Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An integrated

approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

1.1.2 Application learning—important skills, thinking or managing

abilities, which include

a. Demonstrated ability to ‘read’ the social texts and write

fieldwork-based or textual analysis of communication issues

(analytical skills),

b. Demonstrated ability to speak clearly in public and academic

forums (performance skills),

c. Demonstrated ability to critically analyzing the content of

communication (critical thinking) as part of quantitative and

qualitative research, and

d. Demonstrated ability to devise practical or innovative solutions

social conflict as a team player (practical/creative thinking).

1.1.3 Integration learning—connecting ideas within various subfields of

the Communication Studies and beyond the discipline, which


a. Demonstrated ability to analyze the connections between the

interdisciplinary theoretical learning and human experiences in

everyday life, in written and oral forms, and

b. Demonstrated ability to identify communication challenges for

living in a globalized world

1.1.4 Understanding the human dimension of learning—learning about

self and others, which includes

a. Demonstrated awareness of the ways people in different

cultures and socio-organizational contexts make sense of life,

communicate and conduct business (self and others), and

b. Demonstrated ability to educate others about the complexity of

communication in personal and public life

1.1.5 Caring—adopting new feelings, interests, ideas or values, which


a. Demonstrated appreciation of human diversity in the world,

b. Cultivated interest in knowing about other cultures, and

c. Refined interest in the fight for social justice

1.1.6 Learning how to learn, which includes

a. Demonstrated ability to be a better student,

b. Demonstrated ability to ‘read’ social interactions and write

about it, and

c. Development of a future learning plan for self-directed lifelong


These learning outcomes stem from and support the mission, goals and

objectives of the Area, as stated above (1.2 & 1.3). Briefly, as students

graduate from our programs, we expect them to obtain the basic knowledge

of communication and its subfields, learn how to use this knowledge, explore

its personal and social meanings, see how it connects with some other ideas

and experiences they have acquired, and learn how to learn better as a selfdirected,

self-motivated, life-long learners.

Department of English

Student learning outcomes in both the undergraduate and graduate programs in the

Department of English are tied directly to the department goals outlined in the

mission statement.

Students will:

Develop an understanding and appreciation of the power and beauty of written

expression through the study of representative literary texts from diverse periods,

genres, and cultures

Practice textual analysis with confidence and skill

Develop a multicultural understanding of their own and other cultures, past and

present, through the historically contextualized study of language and literature

Be aware of the evolving roles of literature, aesthetics, and critical theory

Be able to develop and support original perspectives with precision, express

themselves effectively and with clarity, and engage in constructive dialog with an

awareness of multiple perspectives

Be able to conduct research in the field

Develop solid reading, writing, and critical thinking skills

Department of Liberal Studies

Learning Outcomes: These learning outcomes are demonstrated skills, knowledge, and

perceptible understandings of the goals and objectives of the major in general and the

specific courses that structure the curriculum of the Department of Liberal Studies.

1. Students will demonstrate knowledge of the basic focus, goals, and approaches of the

Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Humanities, including Cultural Studies and

American studies.

2. Students will demonstrate the ability to do detailed descriptions of cultural sites,

cultural performances, practices, and arts in the multi-cultural and multi/inter-ethnic

landscape of Los Angeles through descriptive qualitative methods.

3. Students will demonstrate their ability to read, critically analyze, and apply advanced

theories of culture to disciplinary knowledge production in the natural sciences, the social

sciences, and the humanities.

4. Students will demonstrate mastery of the modes of critical analysis proper to the

humanities and fine arts as applied to a variety of different texts such as films, television

shows, historical essays, novels, news reports, and archival materials.

5. Students will demonstrate understanding of difficult critical arguments as they are

constructed through diverse disciplinary formations.

6. Students will construct and demonstrate the nature of critical arguments, how they are

structured and what position they take in relation to the subject matter.

7. All students will complete a senior thesis: an extended well researched, critically

written, coherent, and well developed piece of original scholarship.

Department of Music

Learning Outcomes

The Department of Music is committed to the following outcomes:

Students will demonstrate:

The ability to perform on their instrument or voice with technical proficiency and

sufficient artistry to perform a variety of appropriate repertoire.

Rudimentary knowledge of the MIDI protocol and the ability to use basic

computer technology for music notation, music example realization (sequencing),

recording, and research.

The ability to comprehend all aspects of music theory, including analysis, partwriting,

ear-training, and sight-singing.

The ability to comprehend all aspects of music history including all historical

periods, genres, and styles.

Knowledge of music literature from a variety of times and places representative of

the western European tradition.

Knowledge of the literature and stylistic characteristics of various world musics

(i.e., music from diverse cultures and styles).

The ability to play the keyboard with sufficient technique to perform scales, chord

progressions, score reading, and simple accompaniments.

Department of Modern Languages and Literature



Students obtaining the B.A. in Chinese or Japanese will at minimum:

(a) Demonstrate their ability to handle successfully a variety of predictable and

concrete oral exchanges necessary for survival in the target culture (e.g., personal

information covering self, family, home, daily activities, interests and personal

preferences, as well as physical and social needs, such as food, shopping, travel and


(b) Demonstrate their ability to read and write short, simple communications,

compositions, descriptions, and requests for information that are based on personal

preferences, daily routines, common events, and other topics related to personal

experiences and immediate surroundings.

(c) Perform (a) and (b) in culturally appropriate ways.

(d) Demonstrate their understanding and ability to discuss cultural similarities and

differences between Chinese or Japanese culture and the students' own or American


(e) Be able to understand and analyze major literary works in the socio-historical

contexts of the literary production, and to explain the authors of the texts.

(f) Be able to understand and explain basic linguistic terminology and socio-cultural

aspects of the target language, as well as differences of sound and grammar

structures between the target and English languages.

(g) Demonstrate familiarity with library and information technology as part of a wellrounded

education in the humanities, and exploit such technology to find resources

in the target language.

Students seeking the Single Subject Credential in Japanese will at minimum:

(a) Demonstrate their ability to handle successfully many uncomplicated tasks and

social situations requiring an oral exchange of basic information related to work,

school, recreation, particular interests and areas of competence, and orally to narrate

and describe in major time frames using connected discourse of paragraph length.

(b) Be able to meet practical reading and writing needs such as understanding and

producing uncomplicated letters, simple summaries, and compositions related to

work, school experiences, and topics of current and general interest, and to write

simple descriptions and narrations of paragraph length on everyday events and

situations in different time frames using a limited number of cohesive devices.

(c) Perform (a) and (b) in culturally appropriate ways.

(d) Demonstrate their understanding and ability to discuss cultural similarities and

differences between Chinese or Japanese culture and the students' own or American


(e) Be able to understand and analyze major literary works in the socio-historical

contexts of the literary production, and to explain the authors of the texts.

(f) Be able to understand and explain basic linguistic terminology and socio-cultural

aspects of the target language, as well as differences of sound and grammar

structures between the target and English languages.

(g) Demonstrate familiarity with library and information technology as part of a wellrounded

education in the humanities, and exploit such technology to find resources

in the target language.


Students obtaining the B.A. in French or Spanish will at minimum:

(a) Demonstrate the ability to communicate successfully with native speakers of the

target language in a large range of contexts, both personal and professional, and to

present their point of view in a comprehensible, organized, and culturally

appropriate manner.

(b) Be able to write clearly, coherently and accurately on a variety of subjects --

personal experience or reflection; cultural, linguistic, or literary analysis -- and to

use a variety of discourse types, including expository and argumentative essays on

academic topics.

(c) Be able to understand spoken and visual messages, live or in recordings or videos,

and to summarize and discuss such messages or respond to them in an interactive


(d) Be able to read and discuss texts ranging from advertisements and newspapers to

business correspondence and literary masterpieces, understanding both the explicit

and implicit messages of such texts, and demonstrating the ability to discuss the

ideas in these texts and their own interpretation of them.

(e) Demonstrate a familiarity with the main periods, authors, and developments in

French and Francophone or Spanish and Spanish American literatures, and the

ability to summarize and analyze literary texts.

(f) Demonstrate a familiarity with well-known historical figures and events, and

understand and be able to explain basic cultural characteristics of the main world

regions in which the target language is spoken.

(g) Be able to examine the larger question of how language functions as a

communicative system and a social construct, and the role of the target language in

the world.

(h) Demonstrate familiarity with library and information technology as part of a wellrounded

education in the Humanities, and exploit such technology to find resources

in the target language.

In addition to (a)-(h), students seeking the Single Subject Credential in French must

demonstrate their understanding of:

(i) Principal concepts of phonetics and phonology, including an understanding of

various phonetic and phonological aspects of French or Spanish dialectal processes

and the ability to transcribe spoken French or Spanish discourse;

(j) Social and socio-historical factors that can affect language variation and change;

(k) Fundamental concepts of the theory of Second Language Acquisition;

(l) Analysis of structures that cause interference in target-language learners;

(m) Theories and methods of language proficiency evaluation; and

(n) Broad relationship between language, culture and society.

In addition to (a)-(h), students seeking the Single Subject Credential in Spanish must

demonstrate their understanding of:

(i) Basic principles of linguistic analysis;

(j) Principal concepts of phonetics and phonology, including an understanding of

various phonetic and phonological aspects of French or Spanish dialectal processes

and the ability to transcribe spoken French or Spanish discourse;

(k) Major processes used to form words in French or Spanish (including the ability to

identify and describe parts of speech) and major sentence structure rules and


(l) Social and socio-historical factors that can affect language variation and change;

(m) Fundamental concepts of the theory of Second Language Acquisition;

(n) Analysis of structures that cause interference in target-language learners;

(o) Fundamental concepts of pragmatics and sociolinguistics;

(p) Theories and methods of language proficiency evaluation; and

(q) Broad relationship between language, culture and society.


Assessment of student achievement in our programs includes individual evaluation in

four areas: language proficiency and three content areas: linguistics, literature, and

culture. In addition to course-based evaluation, summative evaluation is done through

meetings with a mentor, an exit exam, and a portfolio submission requirement. All

majors submit a portfolio that demonstrates their progress in language proficiency and in

the major content areas.

The majority of our French and Spanish students graduate with the target language

proficiency level of advanced, which is indicated by an evaluation of “outstanding” in the

“language” subfields of the portfolio evaluation sheet. A “satisfactory” ranking in these

areas means that a student’s oral and written language skills correspond to the

intermediate high level of proficiency on the ACTFL scale. In the case of Chinese and

Japanese, “outstanding” and “satisfactory” rankings mean that a student’s oral and

written language skills are equivalent to the ACTFL intermediate high level or above and

intermediate level, respectively.

In the linguistics, literature, and culture subfields, a “satisfactory” ranking indicates that

the student has demonstrated basic competency in these areas, and the ability to present

their statements, ideas, and conclusions about questions in these areas in a

comprehensible manner. An “outstanding” ranking in these fields indicates that the

student shows unusually strong insight, analytical ability, or articulateness on the issues

involved in a given field.

The Modern Languages and Literatures portfolio must also include a reflective essay that

articulates effectively and coherently the students’ assessment on his/her intellectual and

personal growth throughout the various areas and courses taken. Essay/exam samples

from all areas of study (also required by the portfolio) further demonstrate that students

can express ideas around a main topic effectively and coherently.

Department of Theatre Arts and Dance

Learning outcomes of each program

BA Theatre option: At the completion of the BA Theatre option students will be able to:

1 .Improve oral, written, and critical thinking skills.

2. Improve computer literacy through the required design classes.

3. Improve library skills by learning how to conduct research in theatre and


4. Learn how to write about performances

5. Learn how to put performance in a cultural, historical, and theoretical context

6. Learn the history of theatre and performance in major western and nonwestern


Areas of interest within this option


1. Learn to be aware of and to perform and/or direct in at least six of the following

major genres of western performances: Greek, Roman, Medieval, Renaissance

(Italian, Elizabethan, Jacobean), Spanish Golden Age, German Enlightenment,

Neo-Classical, Restoration, Romantic, Melodramatic, Modern, Naturalism,

Realism, Constructivism, Surrealism, Expressionism, Dadaism, Avant-

Garde, Poetic Realism, Happenings, Experimental, Contemporary,

Postmodern, and Current Trends in Performance Art.

2. Learn to be aware and to perform and/or direct in at least three of the following

cultural artistic traditions: African, Japanese Kabuki/Noh/Bunraku/Butoh,

Korean Folk Art, Chinese Opera (Xiqu), Shadow Puppetry, Latin American

Theatre, and other designated cultural forms of theatrical expression.

3. Learn to be aware and to perform and/or direct in at least three of the following

acting theoretical traditions: Aristotelian/ Platonic Dialectical (Greek),

Classical (text based), Denis Diderot, Stanislavky (Realism), Meyerhold

(Bio-Mechanics), Michael Chekov (Poetic Realism), Antonin Artaud (Theatre

of Cruelty), Bertolt Brecht (Didactic), Group Theatre/ Strasberg (Method)

Federal Theatre Project/Living Newspaper (Political), Peter Brook (Cultural

Innovation), Jerzy Growtowski (Poor Theatre), Eugenio Barba

(Reconstruction), Augusto Boal (Theatre of the Oppressed), Anne Bogart

(Viewpoints), Richard Foreman (Ontological-Hysteric Theatre), Robert Wilson

(Minimalist), Julie Tabor (Interculturalist), Lee Breuer (Eclectic Synthesis),

Peter Sellers (auteur), and Liviu Ciulei (Visual Structuralist).

4. Learn to select, analyze, incrementally organize, and prepare to rehearse a

scene or play.

5. Learn to block a script on paper and communicate effectively the directorial

design to actors.

6. Learn (as an actor) how to audition competently within the professional market

place: theatre, TV, film or dance.


1. Learning outcomes in Scenic, Costume, and Lighting design courses have been

developed to allow the student to acquire skills related to design and technical


2. Learn the basic tools and techniques of scenery construction. Learn basic

drafting techniques.

3. Learn costume paint and dye techniques as well as wardrobe plotting.

4. Learn the basic principles of costume design and construction as well as

understanding the historical nature of costume from ancient to modern times.

5. Learn costume rendering layout and construction techniques.

6. Learn scenery design including working drawings model making and

perspective rendering.

7. Learn the theory and practice of lighting design, including basic electricity,

optics, color, light plots, the use of lighting equipment and its control systems.

Arts Management

1. Learn the history of arts management.

2. Learn the various functions of management in the arts.

3. Learn to be familiar with and how to create, utilize, or access incorporation of

non-profit and profit organizations.

Stage Management

1. Learn to create an understanding and appreciation for the practical function of

theatre stage managers.

2. Develop a working knowledge of the research and tools used by professional

stage manager.

3. Learn about unions, associations, contracts, and rules that govern the

professional theatre.

4. Learn how to use the technology available to the professional stage manager.

BA Dance Option

1. Improve oral, written, and critical thinking skills

2. Learn how to conduct research in dance and performance

3. Learn how to write about performances

4. Learn how to put performance in a cultural, historical, or theoretical context

Dance majors are expected to demonstrate proficiency in dance at an advanced

level in the following domains:

Technique/Artistic Perception

1. Learn to process, analyze and respond to sensory information through the

language and skills unique to dance.

2. Demonstrate increased movement skills, concentration and physical control in

performing movement for artistic expression.

3. Learn to discriminate and use a wide range in the used of time, space, and


4. Learn to memorize and reproduce long movement sequences.

Choreography/Creative Expression

1. Learn to use choreographic principles and processes to express perceptions,

feelings, images, and thoughts through dance, working alone, with a partner, or in

small groups.

2. Learn to manipulate the elements of dance, shape, space, time and energy, to

create short studies that demonstrate development as well as a beginning, middle

and end.

3. Learn to create and perform dance works of art showing proficiency in

investigating complex thematic materials, universal themes, and incorporate

simple dance performances, e.g.: music, lighting, scenic design, costuming and

analyzing how these will affect the performance of the work.

Multicultural Context

1. Gain understanding of historical and cultural dimensions of the dance arts.

2. Students will be able to analyze, discuss and write about the role and

development of dance in past and present cultures throughout the world noting

human diversity as it relates to dance and dancers.

3. Understand, articulate and write about artist/work of art/different dance forms

and the effects of society on artwork and of artwork on society.

Verbal and Written Aesthetic Evaluation

1.Learn to respond to, analyze, articulate and make judgments about artwork.

2. Students will critically assess the meaning of works of dance and performance

of dancers based on the cultural and historical contexts of the dance and their

aesthetic principles.

Community Outreach

1.Students will have a heightened sense of community, cultural sensitivity and

respect through community-based performances and teaching dance.

2. Students will have a heightened sense of commitment towards civic

duty/community involvement as future teachers, performers, or workers in

community agencies.

3. Students will have a heightened sense of the impact of their performing on

community audience members.

It is the firm belief of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, that students in

the BA degree program, with theatre emphasis, will learn to move on stage via

their dance activity and dance emphasis students will learn to act their theatre

activity, thus becoming more well-rounded and better prepared actors and


Theatre Arts and Dance Minor

The Theatre Arts and Dance Minor is designed to develop student skills in using

theatre and/or dance as it relates to their performing careers, technical theatre,

history/theory, teaching or related fields.

1. Improve oral, written, and critical thinking skills.

2. Develop a vocabulary for describing diverse forms of theatre and dance


3. Learn how to write about performance.

4. Learn the relationship between theatre & performance and society and how to

put performance in a cultural, historical, or theoretical context.

5. Develop advanced skills one or more areas or theatre and/or dance: dance

techniques, acting, playwriting, choreography, directing, producing, stage

management, arts management, dance or theatre history, theory, or education.

Master of Arts in Theatre

1. Improve oral, written, and critical thinking skills.

2. Learn how to conduct advanced research in theatre and performance ranging

from fieldwork to databases and web sites.

3. Learn the criteria and process of submitting articles for publication.

4. Learn the contemporary theorists, critics, and practitioners in theatre and


5. Develop a vocabulary for describing diverse forms of theatre and performance.

6. Gain an understanding of the relationship between contemporary theatre and

performance to that of other eras and cultures.

7. Learn how to contextualize theatre and performances.

8. Demonstrate the relationship of theory to practice in performance criticism.

9. Learn the relationship between theatre & performance and society.

10. Gain a clear knowledge of Asian performance.

11. Gain pedagogical experience





Innovative Higher Education, Vol. 27, No. 2, Winter 2002 ( C° 2002)

Interdisciplinary Learning: Process

and Outcomes

Lana Ivanitskaya, Deborah Clark, George Montgomery,

and Ronald Primeau



Table I

Predicted Outcomes of Interdisciplinary Programs

Author Outcome

Ackerman (1989) Flexible thinking

Ability to generate analogies and metaphors

Understanding of the strengths and limitations

of disciplines

Ability to assess value to knowledge gained

Ackerman & Perkins (1989) Enhanced thinking and learning skills

Improved higher-order cognitive skills

Improved content retention

Capacity for proactive and autonomous thinking


Ability to devise connections between seemingly

dissimilar contexts

Field, Lee, & Field (1994) Ability to tolerate ambiguity or paradox

Sensitivity to the ethical dimensions of issues

Enlarged perspectives and horizons

Ability to synthesize or integrate

Enhanced creativity, original insights or

unconventional thinking

Enhanced critical thinking

Capacity to perceive a balance between

subjective and objective thinking

Humility, sensitivity to bias, and empowerment

Ability to demythologize experts

Interdisciplinary Learning: Process and Outcomes 101

modified perspectives and attitudes (e.g., enhanced sensitivity to the

ethical dimensions of issues).

A growing number of cognitive theorists agree that “the relation between

knowledge acquisition and performance in many domains requires

not just a set of declarative facts, but a framework or a set of

connections that leads to an understanding of when and how a set of

facts applies in a given situation” (Dorsey, et al., 1999, p. 32). Convergence

of disciplines on one relevant theme promotes intellectual maturation

through the analysis, comparison, and contrast of perspectives

contributed by each discipline.

Interdisciplinary competence is highly dependent on building connections

between theories, approaches, methods of inquiry, concepts,

and paradigms, i.e., interpretive tools through which students derive

a frame of reference for exploration of a programmatic theme. For example,

the interactions between the individual and societal norms can

be explored in historical and political dimensions; analyzed philosophically;

and expressed in literature, film, or visual art. Mastery of interpretive

tools enables learners to compare the aggregate of all perspectives

derived from contributing disciplines.

As learners attain mastery in interdisciplinary studies, they use interpretive

tools to combine and integrate information into a complex

interdisciplinary knowledge structure focused on the program’s theme.

This knowledge structure reflects many central facets of the program:

its integrated theories, essential concepts, effective modes of inquiry,

and primary paradigms. Causes in critical theory, for instance, create

a metacritical perspective within and across fields of study, such that

the consideration of how a musician might interpret a painting or how

a particular author reveals religious meanings in literature leads to

a more critical awareness of fundamental questions about truth and

values. The interdisciplinary knowledge structure is honed through a

gradual advancement in higher-order cognition—specifically, metacognitive

skills, critical thinking, and personal epistemology.

Interdisciplinary studies facilitate higher-order cognitive processing

by motivating students to engage in deep learning. When students take

a deep approach to learning, they seek meaning, reflect on what has

been learned, and internalize knowledge by creating personal understanding

(Entwistle & Ramsden, 1983). Deep learning is often

contrasted with surface learning (e.g., memorization of facts) and characterized

by important and long-standing changes in intellectual

development. As an example, students in the M.A. in Humanities program

often report changes in their teaching and reading, as well as lifechanging

alterations in the way they perceive their lives and work. One


student suggested her humanities coursework provided the “thread to

stitch together the various tapestries of [her own] interests and aspirations.”

More generally, deep learning is manifested as a reduced reliance

on external guidance, less absolute thinking, and increased confidence

in one’s beliefs and actions (Zhang & Richarde, 1999).

Critical thinking is another outcome of interdisciplina\ere

Learning That


Mentkowski, M. (2003, November). Learning that lasts: Educating for the new basics. Plenary address at the annual conference of The Collaboration for the Advancement of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education: The New Basics, Bloomington, MN.

“One of the challenges for some students in the performing arts is to articulate their observations and interpretations in written or spoken form. Some find this difficult because they are more accustomed to the nonverbal languages of their respective art forms. In their performances they express meaning through a variety of forms…Self assessment…requires that students…‘reflect out loud,’ whether orally or in writing, so that they become more conscious of the various components of their performance.”


(Chenevert, Deicher, Riordan, & Runkel, 2000, p. 130)



Chenevert, J., Deicher, M. C., Riordan, T. M., & Runkel, R. (2000). Self assessment inthe performing arts. In Alverno College Faculty, Self assessme

Self Assessment is developmental