Program Goals

Please note these goals and student learning outcomes are for the current General Education Program. For information in regards to the new General Education Program beginning in Fall 2025, please refer to the Revision resources webpage.

I. Thinking Critically & Creatively


The goal of Appalachian's general education program is to instill and nurture in its students the knowledge, skills, and values of a liberal education, including the skills of effective critical thinking, listening, and communicating. A successful liberal, broad-based education prepares students for lifelong learning, reflective living, public engagement, and vocational success. Critical and creative thinkers ("CCT") possess a combination of essential characteristics: skills, knowledge, and dispositions. Critical and creative thinkers are intellectually humble and curious. They use an inquiry-based, systematic, and logical process to promote greater understanding and further learning, considering intra- and inter-disciplinary sources as appropriate. They are open minded and willing to consider alternative and unconventional methods, sources, and conclusions, as part of an evidence-based and rational process. The critical and creative thinker is able to apply knowledge innovatively toward useful and meaningful goals. These characteristics are subject to some limitations and caveats. They are not exhaustive, and they may apply in various ways and to varying degrees, depending on the discipline and/or particular assignments. Some are more aspirational in nature (e.g., intellectual humility and curiosity) and may be difficult to measure even though they are worth nurturing.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Explanation: Students will clearly explain the issue/problem.
  • Evidence: Students will selectively use information to investigate a point of view or conclusion.
  • Context: Students will evaluate the influence of context and assumptions when presenting a position.
  • Perspective: Students will express a position that takes into account the complexities of an issue and acknowledges other viewpoints.
  • Conclusions: Students will express a logical conclusion.
  • Taking Risks: Students will take risks (i.e., includes personal risk, going beyond the original parameters of the assignment, introducing new materials and forms, tackling controversial topics, advocating unpopular ideas or solutions)

Thinking Critically and Creatively Rubric

Thinking Critically and Creatively Assessment Report 2023

II. Communicating Effectively


The General Education Program prepares students to employ modes of communication that can help communities reach consensus or respectful disagreement. Effective communication leads to discovery and significant changes in the sender (who may be a writer, speaker, dancer, musician, visual artist, or actor) that produce sophisticated reading skills and a high level of quantitative, technological, and information literacy. The sender is successful in delivering the message to the receiver, who may be listening, reading, or watching. As both senders and receivers, successful communicators interact effectively with people of both similar and different experiences and values. They adapt their communication skills with increasing complex situations.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Context and Purpose: Students will demonstrate a thorough understanding of context, audience, and purpose.
  • Content Development: Students will use appropriate content to shape their message.
  • Sources and Evidence: Students will integrate evidence drawn from credible, relevant sources to formulate their message.
  • Control of Syntax and Mechanics: Students will communicate with clarity and fluency.

Communicating Effectively Rubric

Communicating Effectively Assessment Report 2022

III. Making Local to Global Connections


Appalachian State University is both in and of the southern Appalachian region, and it is also part of a world that is globally connected. Life in the twenty-first century requires an understanding of the connections and multi-layered interactions among diverse local and global human cultures, as well as between humans and the natural and physical environments. In this context, the general education program helps to cultivate an active understanding of global change and the effect of human agency on both natural and cultural environments. Students should understand the importance of biodiversity, ecological integrity, and the need to achieve sustainable benefits for communities. Knowledge of other cultures, diverse cultural frames of reference, and alternative perspectives are essential to thinking critically and creatively and to understanding the responsibilities of membership in local, regional, and global communities. The cultivation and maintenance of intercultural relationships require active cultural understanding, which is achieved by exploring multiple strategies for interacting with other peoples and cultures.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Global Self Awareness: Students will evaluate the effect of human agency on natural and cultural environments. (Local to Global)
  • Consequences of Global Change: Students will evaluate the effect of global change on local natural and cultural environments. (Global to Local)
  • Systemic Drivers of Global Change: Students will evaluate systemic factors as drivers of global change in order to advocate for appropriate responses.
  • Ecological Integrity and Sustainability: Students will demonstrate the importance of ecological integrity, from local to global scales, as essential life support for sustainable communities.
  • Cultural Diversity: Students will demonstrate their knowledge of other cultures, worldviews, and frames of reference to contextualize local and global issues.
  • Cultural Interaction: Students will integrate diverse perspectives to demonstrate an appreciation of the complexities of cultural interactions.

Making Local to Global Connections Rubric

Making Local to Global Connections Assessment Report 2020

IV. Understanding Responsibilities of Community Membership


General education prepares students to become informed, active, and engaged members of local, national, global, and virtual communities. Responsible community members live thoughtfully and purposefully, with concern for the well-being of both self and others. In a world in which political and economic security, environmental sustainability, and global health are constant challenges, learning and problem-solving require communal participation.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Civic Literacy: Students will evaluate knowledge from their academic experiences to inform their civic engagement.
  • Civic Identity and Engagement: Students will thoroughly reflect on their own civic-engagement activities as they relate to their sense of civic identity.
  • Civil Communication: Students will engage in civil and reasoned discourse.
  • Ethical Self-Awareness: Students will reflect on their own core beliefs in relation to complex ethical issues.
  • Ethical Application: Students will apply ethical concepts to an ethical question.
  • Perspectives of Others: Students will contextualize personal experiences with diverse cultures, communities, or perspectives and demonstrate the ability to act supportively.

Understanding Responsibilities of Community Membership Rubric

Understanding Responsibilities of Community Membership Assessment Report 2021