Baccalaureate Student Learning Outcomes

When students graduate from NIU with bachelor’s degrees, they’re expected to meet the following baccalaureate learning outcomes. These outcomes describe the knowledge, values and abilities students develop during their studies, including general education courses and courses in their major.

Graduating students will be able to:

  • Integrate knowledge of global interconnections and interdependencies.
  • Exhibit intercultural competencies with people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
  • Analyze issues that interconnect human life and the natural world.
  • Demonstrate critical, creative and independent thought.
  • Communicate clearly and effectively.
  • Collaborate with others to achieve specific goals.
  • Use and combine appropriate quantitative and qualitative reasoning skills to address questions and solve problems.
  • Synthesize knowledge and skills relevant to one’s major or particular fields of study and apply them creatively to develop innovative outcomes.

Rubrics for Assessment of Outcomes

NIU has grown into a world-class university that attracts students and faculty from around the globe. In response to this, it is imperative to integrate global perspectives and competence into the core of our education. This calls for the capacity for students and the overall campus community to engage in global issues meaningfully, to recognize the role of a changing sociopolitical and socioeconomic world, and to put international issues at the core of transformative learning. This rubric is designed to measure how NIU instills its students with global perspective and knowledge through cultural self-awareness, and by encouraging them to compare and contrast themselves with others. It also measures how students identify themselves as part of a larger international community as well as how they develop an understanding of the interdependencies of this larger, complex world.

Criteria Accomplished Proficient Developing Beginning
Global Knowledge Reflects comparatively and in depth on one's own country and a second country. Analyzes two countries including their enculturation processes, worldviews, and economic, social and political patterns. Compares and contrasts distinct behavioral characteristics of student's own and one other country. Describes, with examples, the world's global diversity.
Global Intellectual Skills Assesses the complexities and contradictions in one of the world's systems based on information about one or more of the relevant issues currently facing the world's population. Develops a mental map of the interrelatedness of global institutions, issues and systems using examples. Analyzes evidence about a current topic related to a world issue. Explains, with examples, the origins of today's world, its trends and its systemic interdependence.
Global Perspectives Articulates the basic assumptions of two worldviews/perspectives and applies them in formulating alternative responses to one of the world's major issues. Demonstrates understanding of the complexity of elements important to members of another country in relation to its history, values, politics, communication styles, economy, or beliefs and practices. Evaluates the potential effectiveness of two relevant contrasting responses to one general world issue. Describes the world's economic, environmental and political systems.
Global Self-awareness Demonstrates potential for distinctive leadership in a global community. Assesses own perspective and locates it amid world philosophical, religious, ideological and/or intellectual frameworks. Explains a relationship between a global issue and student's own personal commitments and vocational choices. Explains basic awareness of student's own home country rules and biases.

Intercultural competency challenges students to develop a sophisticated understanding of the values and belief systems of their own culture and those of another culture, how these values and belief systems have been developed, how they have been contested and interpreted over time, and how they are manifested in actual practice. Where intercultural competency is integrated into education, students develop appreciation for and an understanding of the rich complexity of the human experience and demonstrate knowledge of, respect for and proficiency in the ability to communicate with people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives. This rubric identifies six key components of intercultural competency. However, it is important to understand that intercultural competency is more complex than this rubric reflects.

Accomplished Proficient Developing Beginning
Cultural Self-awareness Articulates insights into own cultural rules and biases. Recognizes new perspectives about own cultural rules and biases. Identifies own cultural rules and biases Shows minimal awareness of own cultural rules and biases.
Knowledge of Cultural Worldview Frameworks Demonstrates sophisticated understanding of the complexity of other cultures in relation to history, politics, communication styles, economy, or values, beliefs and practices. Evinces a high level of knowledge of the complexity of other cultures in relation to history, politics, communication styles, economy, or values, beliefs and practices Possesses some knowledge of the complexity of other cultures in relation to history, politics, communication styles, economy, or values, beliefs and practices. Shows minimal awareness of the complexity of other cultures in relation to history, politics, communication styles, economy, or values, beliefs and practices.
Empathy Interprets intercultural experience from multiple perspectives and demonstrates ability to act in a supportive manner that recognizes the feelings of another cultural group. Recognizes intellectual and emotional dimensions of more than one perspective and sometimes uses more than one perspective in interactions. Identifies components of other cultural perspectives but responds with own perspective. Views the experience of others but does so through own cultural perspective.
Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Articulates a complex understanding of cultural differences in verbal and nonverbal communication. Recognizes and participates in cultural differences in verbal and nonverbal communication. Identifies some cultural differences in verbal and nonverbal communication and is aware that misunderstandings can occur based on those differences. Has a minimal level of understanding of cultural differences in verbal and nonverbal communication.
Curiosity Asks complex questions about other cultures, seeks out and articulates answers to these questions that reflect multiple cultural perspectives. Asks deeper questions about other cultures and seeks out answers to these questions. Asks simple or surface questions about other cultures. States minimal interest in learning more about other cultures.
Openness and Tolerance Initiates and develops interactions with culturally different others. Suspends stereotyping in valuing interactions with culturally different others. Begins to initiate and develop interactions with culturally different others. Begins to challenge stereotyping in valuing interactions with culturally different others. Expresses openness to most if not all interactions with culturally different others. Has difficulty avoiding stereotyping in interactions with culturally different others, is aware of own tendency of stereotyping and expresses a willingness to change. Receptive to interacting with culturally different others. Has difficulty recognizing stereotyping in interactions with culturally different others.

Environmental literacy incorporates one of the NIU baccalaureate learning outcomes, specifically the ability to "analyze issues that interconnect human life and the natural world." Environmental literacy means understanding the impact of one's actions, as an individual and as a part of a community, on both local, regional and global environments. This learning outcome emphasizes knowledge of humanity's dependence on the environment, understanding of the ways in which humans modify and alter the natural environment, and an appreciation for potential social, political, economic, behavioral, technological and ecological solutions to environmental problems.

The objective of this rubric is to illustrate the outcomes of a global environmental perspective in students. The rubric outlines the dimensions of knowledge, skill, student work and characteristics that demonstrate these outcomes. A student with an environmental perspective has working knowledge in the form of experience with varying physical environments as well as political, economic, ecological, biological and philosophical education on global environments. These dimensions of interaction with environmental studies should incorporate:

  • Awareness of the environment's role in human life.
  • Problem-solving of large-scale environmental issues.
  • Knowledge of human and natural systems.
  • Skills relating to working with physical environments.
  • Attitudes of appreciation for the environment.
Criteria Accomplished Proficient Developing Beginning
Knowledge of Environmental Impact Has the knowledge to track or predict effects of own and others' actions on local and global environments. Has some knowledge of the effects of own and others' actions on local and global environments. Has some knowledge of the effects of own actions on local environments but without knowledge of their effects on a larger, global scale. Has little knowledge or concern for the effects of individual actions on local and global environments.
Knowledge of Life Systems Knows ecological, political, economic, philosophical and biological (etc.) frameworks for understanding the diversity of human and natural environmental systems. Knows few or several frameworks for understanding human and natural environmental systems. Has little or one-dimensional knowledge of human and natural systems. Has little or no knowledge of human and natural environmental systems.
Application of Knowledge to Environmental Issues Effectively synthesizes frameworks of knowledge to apply them to large-scale environmental issues to create working solutions. Applies frameworks of knowledge to large-scale environmental issues but does not have enough knowledge or experience to produce solutions. Has concept of large-scale environmental issues but cannot effectively apply frameworks of knowledge to environmental problems in order to produce solutions. Has little or no concept of large-scale environmental issues and cannot effectively apply frameworks of knowledge to environmental problems in order to produce a solution.
Attitudes Concerning Integrity of Global Environments Has concern for long-term integrity of local and global environments, seeks information about threats to global environments and has concern for their reversal. Has concern for long-term threats to local and global environments and for their reversal. Has a concept of threats to local and global environments but has a short-term perspective on environmental issues. Has little or no concern for local or global environmental integrity and a short-term perspective on environmental issues.

A student proficient in critical and creative thinking demonstrates effective and balanced interpretation, analysis, evaluation and innovation.

Criteria Accomplished Proficient Developing Beginning
Explanation Comprehensively describes and restates an issue or problem in critical fashion, with full understanding and clarity. Clarifies an issue or problem in critical fashion, with nuanced understanding and clarity. Describes and restates an issue or problem completely and accurately. Describes and restates an issue or problem incompletely or inaccurately.
Evidence (seeking and using information) Develops a comprehensive analysis/synthesis of evidence and arrives at appropriate conclusions. Summarizes, compares, evaluates and synthesizes different pieces of evidence. Completely and accurately summarizes evidence. Incompletely or inaccurately summarizes evidence.
Perspective (thesis/hypothesis) Specific position (perspective, thesis/hypothesis) is imaginative, taking into account the complexities of an issue. Limits of position (perspective, thesis/hypothesis) are acknowledged. Specific position (perspective, thesis/hypothesis) takes into account the complexities of an issue. Others' points of view are acknowledged within position (perspective, thesis/hypothesis). Specific position (perspective, thesis/ hypothesis) acknowledges different sides of an issue. Specific position (perspective, thesis/hypothesis) is stated, but is simplistic and obvious.
Connection Transforms ideas or solutions to create new knowledge. Recognizes all connections among ideas or solutions in novel ways. Recognizes all connections among ideas or solutions. Recognizes some connections among ideas or solutions.
Exploration Thoroughly explores and critically evaluates alternative approaches to solving a problem. Identifies new approaches to solving a problem. Accepts known approaches to solving a problem, but begins to search for other approaches. Accepts known approaches to solving a problem without exploring other possibilities.
Innovation Creates an entirely new idea, format or product. Combines elements of several existing ideas, formats or products. Reformulates an existing idea format or product. Utilizes existing ideas, formats or products.

A student proficient in written communication writes skillfully with a thorough awareness of context, audience and purpose.

Accomplished Proficient Developing Beginning
Question or Problem Precise description of question or problem and its relevant contextual information. Reasonable description of question or problem and its context. Sketchy description of question or problem, some contextual information. Incomplete or missing description of question or problem, little or no context.
Thesis/Position Compelling thesis, examines its complexities and limitations, proposes to test assumptions. Thoughtful thesis, acknowledges its complexities and questions assumptions. Adequate thesis, touches on its complexities and assumptions. Unclear or inadequate thesis, oversimplifies or overlooks its complexities and assumptions.
Content Development Original, well-conceived ideas drawn from strong control of disciplinary knowledge and specialized terms. Well-synthesized ideas based on good control of disciplinary knowledge and specialized terms. Acceptable ideas, but they reflect uneven control of disciplinary knowledge and specialized terms. Fuzzy or misinformed ideas that show very limited control of disciplinary knowledge, misuse of specialized terms.
Sources and Evidence High-quality sources or evidence, multiple views represented, well-evaluated and integrated, correct citation. Reliable, balanced sources or evidence, accurately represented and integrated, minimal citation errors. Relevant sources or evidence, fairly represented, but in need of better integration, citation problems. Minimal sources or evidence, not always relevant or at times misrepresented, incorrect citations.
Format Logical format follows disciplinary conventions. Strategic placement of figures or electronic links, if needed. Organized format with orderly transitions. Helpful placement of figures or links, if needed. Appropriate but disjointed format. Figures or links, if needed, could be better placed. Disorganized or truncated format. Figures or links, if needed, not well placed or relevant.
Conclusions Insightful conclusion consistent with content and thesis, reflects on outcomes and implications. Justified conclusion, connected to development of content and thesis. Predictable conclusion, drawn to fit a desired end. Conclusion inconsistent with content, oversimplified or too abrupt.
Syntax and Editing Well-crafted, varied sentences, grammatically fluent, carefully edited. Syntactically clear sentences, few grammatical errors or typos. Readable but sometimes confusing sentences, distracting errors or typos. Unclear or poorly constructed sentences, frequent errors or typos that impede meaning.

A student proficient in oral communication speaks skillfully with a thorough awareness of context, audience and purpose.

Criteria Accomplished Proficient Developing Beginning
Chooses and narrows a topic appropriately for the audience and occasion Speaker presents a topic and a focus that are exceptionally appropriate for the purpose, time constraints and audience. Speaker presents a topic and a focus that are appropriate for the purpose, time constraints and audience. Speaker presents a topic and a focus that are marginally acceptable for the purpose, time constraints and audience. Speaker presents a topic and a focus that are inappropriate for the purpose, time constraints and audience.
Communicates thesis/specific purpose in a manner appropriate for the audience and occasion Speaker communicates a thesis/specific purpose that is exceptionally clear and identifiable. Speaker communicates a thesis/specific purpose that is adequately clear and identifiable. Speaker communicates a thesis/specific purpose that is marginally clear and identifiable. Speaker does not communicate a clear and identifiable thesis/specific purpose.
Provides supporting material (including electronic and nonelectronic presentational aids) appropriate for the audience and occasion Speaker uses supporting material that is exceptional in quality and variety. Speaker uses supporting material that is appropriate in quality and variety. Speaker uses supporting material that is marginally appropriate in quality and variety. Speaker uses supporting material that is inappropriate in quality and variety.
Uses an organizational pattern appropriate to the topic, audience, occasion and purpose Speaker uses an exceptional introduction and conclusion and provides an exceptionally clear and logical progression within and among ideas. Speaker uses an appropriate introduction and conclusion and provides a reasonably clear and logical progression within and among ideas. Speaker uses a marginally appropriate introduction and conclusion and provides a somewhat clear and logical progression within and among ideas. Speaker fails to use an introduction or conclusion and fails to provide a reasonably clear and logical progression within and among ideas.
Uses language appropriate to the audience and occasion Speaker uses language that is exceptionally clear, vivid and appropriate. Speaker uses language that is reasonably clear, vivid and appropriate. Speaker uses language that is somewhat clear and marginally appropriate. Speaker uses unclear or inappropriate language.
Uses vocal variety in rate, pitch, and intensity (volume) to heighten and maintain interest appropriate to the audience and occasion Speaker makes exceptional use of vocal variety in a conversational mode. Speaker makes good use of vocal variety in a conversational mode. Speaker makes acceptable use of vocal variety in a conversational mode. Speaker fails to use vocal variety and fails to speak in a conversational mode.
Uses pronunciation, grammar and articulation appropriate to the audience and occasion Speaker has exceptional articulation, pronunciation and grammar. Speaker has good articulation, with few pronunciation or grammatical errors. Speaker has marginally acceptable articulation, with some pronunciation or grammatical errors. Speaker fails to use acceptable articulation, pronunciation and grammar.
Uses physical behaviors that support the verbal message Speaker demonstrates exceptional posture, gestures, bodily movement, facial expressions, eye contact and appropriate attire. Speaker demonstrates good posture, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact and appropriate attire. Speaker exhibits marginally acceptable posture, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact and appropriate attire. Speaker uses unacceptable posture, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact and dress.

The ability to learn and accomplish tasks in groups is a critical competency for success in and out of the classroom. Individuals who are skilled in this competency behave in ways that contribute to both accomplishing group goals as well as maintaining positive relationships among group members. Individuals who are proficient collaborators will:

  • Facilitate others' contributions by recognizing how group members' strengths and weaknesses can be best combined to accomplish group goals.
  • Reliably keep agreements and make substantial contributions to the group's goals.
  • Communicate clearly and respectfully while also actively listening to others' ideas and input.
  • Demonstrate genuine concern for other group members and contribute to positive group morale.
  • Help leverage group differences to help find innovative ways to accomplish group goals.
Criteria Accomplished Proficient Developing Beginning
Facilitates Team Members' Contributions Capitalizes on team members' knowledge, skills and abilities to maximize team effectiveness. Identifies how team members' knowledge, skills and abilities can contribute to achieving group goals. Acknowledges and helps clarify team members' knowledge, skills and abilities. Shows little or no awareness of team members' relevant knowledge, skills and abilities.
Contributes to the Team Assumes significant responsibility and completes tasks that make exceptional contributions to the group's goals. Accepts responsibilities and completes tasks that make meaningful contributions to the group's goals. Fulfills responsibilities and assigned tasks but makes minimal contribution to the group's goals. Relies on others to do the group's work and doesn't contribute to the group's goals.
Communicates Clearly and Listens Actively Communicates articulately and demonstrates active listening by building on and integrating others' perspectives/viewpoints. Communicates clearly and appropriately, exhibits respect for others' viewpoints. Communicates appropriately and listens to others' viewpoints. Communicates unclearly or inappropriately and disregards others' input.
Fosters a Positive Team Clearly values other team members, exhibits concern for others' well-being and contributes to a high level of morale among team members. Treats team members with respect, develops positive working relationships with other members and maintains a positive attitude. Is respectful of other team members but exhibits little warmth toward other group members. Shows little regard for the feelings of other team members and devotes little attention to maintaining positive working relationships.
Manages Group Leverages group differences to find innovative solutions that are embraced by the group. Addresses group differences to find acceptable compromise solutions. Identifies, but does not address, group differences among team members. Ignores or actively suppresses group differences among team members.
Accomplished Proficient Developing Beginning

Interpretation:

Ability to explain information presented in mathematical forms (e.g. equations, graphs, diagrams, tables, words)
Provides accurate explanations of information presented in mathematical forms. Makes appropriate inferences based on that information. For example, accurately explains the trend data shown in a graph and makes reasonable predictions regarding what the data suggests about future events. Provides accurate explanations of information presented in mathematical forms. For instance, accurately explains the trend data shown in a graph. Provides somewhat accurate explanations of information presented in mathematical forms, but occasionally makes minor errors related to computations or units. For instance, accurately explains trend data shown in a graph, but may miscalculate the slope of a trend line. Attempts to explain information presented in mathematical forms, but draws incorrect conclusions about what the information means. For example, attempts to explain the trend data shown in a graph, but will frequently misinterpret the nature of that trend, perhaps by confusing positive and negative trends.

Calculation:

Performing calculations and presenting their results clearly, correctly and concisely
Calculations attempted are essentially all successful and sufficiently comprehensive to solve the problem. Calculations are also presented elegantly (clearly, concisely, etc.). Calculations attempted are essentially successful, but presentation may not be complete or clear. Calculations attempted are either unsuccessful, incomplete or very difficult to follow. Calculations are attempted but are both unsuccessful and not comprehensive.

Mathematical Modeling:

Ability to appropriately express a problem mathematically (e.g. arithmetical, algebraic, geometric, statistical) in a way that would allow one to draw conclusions
Skillfully expresses a problem mathematically, describing appropriate assumptions and choosing a technique or framework that accounts for the structure of the problem (e.g. size, type of input, nature of the result). Attempt to express the problem mathematically is essentially successful, but does not fully consider assumptions and/or possible solution techniques. Attempt to express problem mathematically is only partially correct or appropriate. Attempts to express problem mathematically, but effort is mostly unsuccessful or inappropriate.

Quantitative Evaluation:

Ability to evaluate the reasonableness of a hypothesis, result or assertion based on quantitative analysis
Skillfully evaluates the reasonableness of a claim, showing deep insight. Such analysis should include consideration of factors such as tolerances, uncertainty, limits of statistical inference and benchmarks, as appropriate. Analysis of reasonableness of a claim is essentially complete with most appropriate factors considered. Analysis of reasonableness of a claim is missing significant factors or is not performed correctly. Attempt is made to address reasonableness of a claim, but it is mostly unsuccessful.

Qualitative Evaluation:

Ability to evaluate the reasonableness of a hypothesis, result or assertion based on qualitative analysis
Skillfully evaluates the reasonableness of a result, showing deep insight. Such analysis should include consideration of factors such as units, sign, order of magnitude, limiting behavior and shape of graph, as appropriate. Analysis of reasonableness of a claim is essentially complete with most appropriate factors considered. Analysis of reasonableness of a claim is missing significant factors or is not performed correctly. Attempt is made to address reasonableness of a claim, but it is mostly unsuccessful.

Students obtaining a baccalaureate degree at NIU must be able to synthesize knowledge and skills relevant to their major or field of study, and apply them creatively to develop innovative outcomes. Such learning occurs across courses and experiences both within and beyond the classroom. Students may demonstrate their abilities in this area through the successful completion of assignments in which they are challenged to make connections, transfer knowledge and skills, and think innovatively to draw informed conclusions. This rubric identifies four critical components of synthesis and innovative application. This rubric may be applied to a variety of assignments designed to address the stated outcomes.

Criteria Accomplished Proficient Developing Beginning
Connections Independently creates wholes out of multiple parts (synthesizes) or draws conclusions by combining examples, facts, theories and/or experiences from more than one field of study or perspective. Independently connects examples, facts, theories and/or experiences from more than one field of study or perspective. When prompted, connects examples, facts, theories and/or experiences from more than one field of study or perspective. When prompted, presents examples, facts, theories and/or experiences from more than one field of study or perspective.
Transfer Independently adapts and applies skills, abilities, theories or methodologies gained in one situation to new situations to solve difficult problems or explore complex issues in original ways. Adapts and applies skills, abilities, theories or methodologies gained in one situation to new situations to solve problems or explore issues. Uses skills, abilities, theories or methodologies gained in one situation in a new situation to contribute to understanding of problems or issues. Uses, in a basic way, skills, abilities, theories or methodologies gained in one situation in a new situation.
Innovation Extends a novel or unique idea, question, format or product to create new knowledge or knowledge that crosses boundaries. Creates a novel or unique idea, question, format or product. Experiments with creating a novel or unique idea, question, format or product. Reformulates a collection of available ideas.
Conclusions Conclusions and related outcomes (consequences and implications) are logical and reflect student’s informed evaluation and ability to place evidence and perspectives discussed in priority order. Conclusion is logically tied to a range of information, including opposing viewpoints, related outcomes (consequences and implications) are identified clearly. Conclusion is logically tied to information (because information is chosen to fit the desired conclusion), some related outcomes (consequences and implications) are identified clearly. Conclusion is inconsistently tied to some of the information discussed, related outcomes (consequences and implications) are oversimplified.

Contact Us

Associate Professor Ed Klonoski
Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Curriculum
815-753-7037
eklonoski@niu.edu
Donna Smith
Catalog Editor, Curriculum Coordinator
Williston 321
815-753-0126
dsmith@niu.edu