Center for Instructional
Innovation and Assessment


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Goals Contents
Smate Team - Deb Donovan, Scott Linneman, Sue DeBari, Alejandro Acevedo-Gutierrez, Emily Borda
Science Education Team
Science, Math and Technology Education

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 SMATE's teaching strategies meet each of these student learning outcome goals.


Critical Thinking

Learning Outcomes Definition Course Outcomes
Identification Accurately identifies and interprets evidence.

Students use evidence from investigations with real and simulated systems to construct scientific claims about the principles that govern those systems.

Students use evidence from their curricula to support claims about how their understanding of scientific ideas have changed.

Alternative Consideration Considers major alternative points of view.

Through readings, videos, and/or analysis of K-12 student work, students become aware of the productive ideas, misconceptions, and/or incomplete ideas K-12 students may have about the ideas being constructed in the SCED course. Students compare these to their own ideas. Students further consider how those ideas make sense to the students and how to help them build upon and/or confront them.

Accurate Conclusions Draws warranted, judicious, non-fallacious conclusions. Students justify, on homework assignments, quizzes, and large group discussions, how the evidence they have collected supports their claims. They critique each other's explanations based on the fit between their claims and the evidence they cited.

Justification Justifies key results and procedures, and explains assumptions and reasons.

Adapted from the California Academic Press's Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric.


Learning Outcomes Definition Course Outcomes
Rhetorical Knowledge Focuses on a clear rhetorical purpose and responds appropriately to the needs of varied audiences and situations.

When writing narratives to accompany energy diagrams, students focus on the correctness, logical clarity, and completeness of their arguments.

When writing learning commentaries, students clearly align their narrative to the given prompts. Students use their own voice to tell the "story" of their learning.

Critical Analysis Develops, examines, situates, and communicates a reasoned perspective clearly to others.

When writing narratives to accompany energy diagrams, students connect the energy transfers and transformations to physical evidence that those events are occurring.

When writing learning commentaries, students examine the reasons behind their initial ideas and the changes in their thinking.

Composing Processes Understands writing as a recursive process that involves drafting, re-thinking, editing, reconceptualizing. Students respond to feedback on early energy diagram narratives and learning commentaries to improve their subsequent writing. Students sometimes revise their energy diagram narratives based on formal and informal feedback from instructors and/or peers.
Convention Knowledge Uses appropriate conventions for documentation and for surface features such as syntax, grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling.

Adapted from Western Washington University's Learning Outcomes for Writing Proficiency.