Center for Instructional
Innovation and Assessment


Jason Kanov
David Shull
Larry Symons
Goals Contents
Larry Symons
Department of Psychology

Institutional Goals

Listed below are selected learning outcomes in the areas of critical thinking, writing, and information literacy that Western Washington University is actively integrating into its curriculum. Each learning outcome is listed with its definition, along with a description of how Larry Symons' teaching strategies meet each of these student learning outcome goals.

Critical Thinking

Learning Outcomes Definition Course Outcomes
Identification Accurately identifies and interprets evidence. As a large enrollment survey course, much of the students’ work concerns the identification of evidence. Students are provided with facts and opinions and are tested through a variety of exams. It is expected that students will have a well-rounded understanding of the basic principles of psychology.
Alternative Consideration Considers major alternative points of view. Psychology is a relatively young discipline. Much of our current knowledge is based on studies and debates from the past 100 years. As such, I present many of these major debates and explain how, through the use of the scientific method, we have come to our current position. While in-class exams are important for demonstrating this knowledge, I have also used short, low-stakes writing assignments that often present these debates and ask students to respond to questions related to them.
Accurate Conclusions Draws warranted, judicious, non-fallacious conclusions. There are many pseudoscientific endeavors that appear to be similar to psychology. Part of the purpose of this course is to teach the students how we can test claims using the scientific method and determine whether or not they have merit. Students also participate in experiments allowing them to experience the science of psychology at the ground level.
Justification Justifies key results and procedures, and explains assumptions and reasons. The students are taught the outcomes of the progress of psychology over the past century and are encouraged to understand the complexities of the discipline. The thread that is woven through these complexities is the use of the scientific method. As such, the student should understand that this procedure can lead to very strong and accurate conclusions, based on the predicates of scientific reasoning.

Source: Adapted from the California Academic Press's Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric (HCTSR).