Office of Institutional Research
and Assessment

Wilson Hall, Room 512
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, MI 48309-4486
(location map)
(248) 370-2387
fax: (248) 370-2973

General Education Assessment

Questions about General Education Assessment?  Contact:

Ongoing assessment is a valuable process for determining whether general education is meeting its program goals. From the results of assessment, important information is gained about how students benefit from general education and how program effectiveness can continue to be improved.

The General Education Committee is responsible for the assessment of OU’s General Education program. Department chairs are responsible for providing information regarding general education courses in their departments.

OU will continue its regular review cycle for general education. OU’s General Education program emphasizes three areas: Foundations, Explorations, and Integration. Foundations emphasize mastery of writing and formal reasoning. Exploration areas encourage a broad perspective on knowledge and society through offerings across seven knowledge areas. Integration provides an opportunity to synthesize material learned across disciplines through knowledge applications and capstone experiences. Additionally, students are required to develop advanced writing skills, a deeper understanding of U.S. diversity, and University Learning Outcomes for critical thinking, information literacy, effective communication, and social awareness. Throughout the undergraduate course of study, a student will be taught skills and mentored in experiences to develop these competencies. Faculty in each academic unit will define these competencies in terms of measurable objectives that can be assessed at the completion of the undergraduate experience. Any general education program must be developed in partnership with a plan to measure its effectiveness.

Assessment of the general education program includes the following: 

  1. Regular review of general education courses offered under the Foundations, Exploration, and Integration areas to assess student performance relative to general education student learning outcomes
  2. Periodic review of syllabi for courses with Writing Intensive designation to ensure compliance with requirements
  3. Periodic review of general education course syllabi for inclusion of key elements
  4. Assessment of the University Learning Outcomes
  5. Comprehensive program review for general education

For more information about the assessment process and program review, see the Assessment abstract from the Proposal for the Renewal of General Education at Oakland University

To ensure continuous quality of the general education curriculum a complete program review will be conducted in 2009 (four years after inception) and every seven years thereafter (after two triennial cycles). The program review will look at course assessments and identify other areas of the program that could be improved, such as facilities, staffing, ratio of full to part-time faculty, class size, relationship to other programs, etc.

The phrase “learning outcomes” describe what Oakland University expects students to know or be able to do after receiving instruction or engaging in a learning activity. The general education program has three major parts: foundations, exploration and integration. Within these main divisions there are ten knowledge areas plus diversity and a capstone. There are two General Education Student Learning Outcomes (GESLOs) for each area. Additionally, each General Education course is expected to address at least one of four University Learning Outcomes (ULOs) - critical thinking, effective communication, information literacy, social awareness/responsibility. 

University Learning Outcomes

Critical Thinking
Students will:

  • Analyze and evaluate relevant information, alternative points of view, inferences, and/or assumptions;
  • Synthesize information in order to arrive at substantiated conclusions.

Effective Communication
Students will:

  • Convey ideas, arguments, or analyses clearly and cogently in oral, written, or visual form;
  • Apply effective communication skills as appropriate to the context and intended audiences.

Information Literacy
Students will:

  • Find, evaluate, and responsibly use different kinds of information for different purposes;
  • Effectively integrate relevant information sources to build new, or add to existing, public or professional understandings.

Social Awareness/Responsibility
Students will:

  • Apply principles, methods, value systems, or ethics to social issues confronting local and global communities.

Foundations of Knowledge Areas

Formal Reasoning
The student will demonstrate:

  • knowledge of one or more formal reasoning systems such as computer programming, mathematics, statistics, linguistics or logic
  • application of formal reasoning to read, understand, model and solve problems across a variety of applications

The student will demonstrate:

  • knowledge of the elements, writing processes, and organizing strategies for creating analytical and expository prose
  • effective rhetorical strategies appropriate to the topic, audience, context, and purpose

Knowledge Exploration Areas

The student will demonstrate:

  • knowledge of cultural or historic artistic traditions in visual, auditory, movement, theatrical, or cinematic art
  • knowledge of the role of art as critical commentary on society and as an aesthetic expression of experience

Foreign Language and Culture
The student will demonstrate:

  • knowledge of a foreign language and culture
  • knowledge of linguistic and cultural diversity and the contributions of such diversity to the global society

Global Perspective
The student will demonstrate:

  • knowledge of the environments, political systems, economies, societies and religions of one or more regions outside the United States and awareness of the transnational flow of goods, peoples, ideas and values
  • knowledge of the role that different cultural heritages, past and present, play in forming values in another part of the world, enabling the student to function within a more global context

The student will demonstrate:

  • knowledge of how literature is an expression of culture
  • knowledge of literary form

Natural Science and Technology
The student will demonstrate:

  • knowledge of major concepts from natural science or technology, including developing and testing of hypotheses; drawing conclusions; and reporting of findings through some laboratory experience or an effective substitute (Laboratory experiences are met by either a limited number of interactive experiences, collecting and interpreting raw data, or other effective experiences such as a virtual laboratory)
  • how to evaluate sources of information in science or technology

Social Science
The student will demonstrate:

  • knowledge of concepts, methods and theories designed to enhance understanding of human behavior and/or societies
  • application of concepts and theories to problems involving individuals, institutions, or nations

Western Civilization
The student will demonstrate:

  • knowledge of the historical events and/or philosophical ideas of European or American culture
  • knowledge of how Western ideas or institutions have evolved over time

Integration Knowledge Areas

Capstone Experience
The student will demonstrate:

  • appropriate uses of a variety of methods of inquiry and a recognition of ethical considerations that arise
  • the ability to integrate the knowledge learned in general education and its relevance to the student’s life and career

Knowledge Applications
The student will demonstrate:

  • how knowledge in a field outside of the student’s major can be evaluated and applied to solve problems across a range of applications
  • knowledge of the personal, professional, ethical, and societal implications of these applications

Diversity Area

U.S. Diversity
The student will:

  • demonstrate knowledge of how diverse value systems and societal structures are influenced by at least two of the following: race, gender, ethnicity
  • identify major challenges and issues these raise in society

General Education Assessment Schedule (subject to change)

Knowledge AreaCollect DataReview Year

Arts, Western Civilization


Foreign Language & Culture, Global Perspective, Literature


Formal Reasoning, Natural Science & Technology, Social Science, Writing Foundations




Arts, Western Civilization


Foreign Language & Culture, Global Perspective, Literature


Formal Reasoning, Natural Science & Technology, Social Science, Writing Foundations