Center for Instructional
Innovation and Assessment


June Dodd
Marc Geisler
Marc Richards
Goals Contents
Marc Geisler
English Department

Institutional Goals

Listed below are selected learning outcomes in the area of critical thinking that Western Washington University is actively integrating into its curriculum. Each learning outcome is listed with its definition, along with a description of how Dawn geisler's teaching strategies meet each of these student learning outcome goals.


Critical Thinking

Learning Outcomes Definition Course Outcomes
Identification Accurately identifies and interprets evidence. English 214 is focused on critical thinking in the form of literary and cultural criticism.

In their examinations, students are required to recognize different kinds of verse and prose. They acquire a facility with Shakespeare's dramatic language. For example, students are given numerous opportunities to evaluate how Shakespeare's use of varied syntax communicates the emotion and thinking of his characters. In their examinations and writing assignments, they must also demonstrate that they can interpret Shakespeare's use of imagery, figurative language, and rhetoric.

Additionally, students learn how to analyze and interpret stage and film productions of Shakespeare. They come to appreciate the importance of such details as gesture, lighting, blocking, cinematography, color, movement, scenery, casting, and costumes.

Finally, students must make their own judgments concerning the themes and ideologies presented in the plays. They are asked to identify, analyze, and evaluate the resonate and often contested cultural values that Shakespeare investigated in such depth.
Alternative Consideration Considers major alternative points of view. In their writing portfolios students must confront and evaluate contrasting interpretations and adaptations of Shakespeare's work.

On the one hand, they are encouraged to develop an awareness of the historical and cultural variety of interpretations of Shakespeare. For example, students must confront and consider the fact that Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, beginning in Shakespeare's day, was most often dressed in a red wig and beard, purposely aligning him with Judas. Moreover, Christian audiences in the seventeenth century reacted to Shylock derisively, finding abundant delight and humor in his punishment. In their essay writing, students are asked to consider how post-holocaust portrayals of Shylock offer alternative points of view.

On the other hand, the class is organized in such a way that requires students to negotiate a variety of interpretations in one place and time. For example, students respond to the recent explosion of Shakespeare on film, which encourages them to consider their personal investment in the plays, because many of these productions are targeted at their generation.
Accurate Conclusions Draws warranted, judicious, non-fallacious conclusions. Because so many different points of view on Shakespeare exist, some students are initially attracted to the mistaken notion that any interpretation must be valid. As they progress in the course, students gain the ability to contextualize their insights within the dramatic structure of the plays and the trajectory of character development. The course is set up to compare and contrast Shakespeare's comic and tragic development of similar themes and values. For example, they are asked to consider how a daughter's rejection of her father's authority creates a sense of cultural crisis in A Midsummer Night's Dream and King Lear. Students must show that they understand how each play negotiates the crisis differently, ending as each does with comic and tragic resolutions respectively. Also, students must draw warranted conclusions based on a plausible reading of the characters' development throughout the play.
Justification Justifies key results and procedures, and explains assumptions and reasons. In two writing portfolios students develop their own justifications for specific productions of Shakespeare. In their film critiques they must show how a particular film adaptation is successful or not successful. Accordingly, they provide an account of their own assumptions and interpretation of the play, which they use as a basis for judging the film adaptation. In the play presentation portfolios, students create their own imaginative vision for a Shakespeare scene, and they must account for the style of presentation, editing, scenery, costumes, and gestures they chose to adopt.
Source: Adapted from the California Academic Press's Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric (HCTSR).


Learning Outcomes Definition Course Outcomes
Rhetorical Knowledge Focuses on a clear rhetorical purpose and responds appropriately to the needs of varied audiences and situations. Students are asked to compose in a variety of settings, including in-class responses, drafting alone and in groups, peer editing, collaborative essays, portfolios, in-class examinations, and polished individual essays. Students study rhetoric in Shakespeare in order to appreciate the significance of having a clear purpose and a strong sense of audience.
Critical Analysis Develops, examines, situates, and communicates a reasoned perspective clearly to others. In their examinations and writing portfolios students must present clear evaluations and persuasive interpretations of Shakespeare's plays. In all their writing assignments, students are asked to take into account Shakespeare's use of dramatic language and genre conventions. The collaborative writing assignments, in particular, require them to confront varied opinions and imaginative visions within student groups and then to work together to craft a clear interpretation that draws on the creative debate generated by their discussions.
Composing Processes Understands writing as a recursive process that involves drafting, re-thinking, editing, reconceptualizing. In the process of writing each portfolio, students consult with group members in person and via email, draft, peer edit, participate in office conferences with the instructor, revise, edit, and polish their work before turning it in for a grade.
Convention Knowledge Uses appropriate conventions for documentation and for surface features such as syntax, grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling. In the final version of each writing assignment, students must present a focused thesis, original insights, persuasive arguments, appropriate textual and visual evidence, as well as appropriate organization, grammar, and spelling.

Source: Adapted from Western Washington University's Learning Outcomes for Writing II.