Core Learning Outcomes

Core Learning Outcomes

A liberal education generates learning that prepares students to deal with a complex, diverse, and changing world. According to Lane's Strategic Directions, The liberal education approach can empower our students to become global citizens, capable of communicating across borders and critically analyzing the evolving issues and problems they face. Such an approach supports respect for individuals, cultural differences, and alternative views.

Throughout 2011/12, faculty and staff across Lane came together to distil the essential human characteristics that they and their students will strive to develop throughout an education at Lane.

By expressing Lane's Core Learning Outcomes, the college community commits to addressing and assessing these outcomes across the curriculum—not every outcome in every course, but one or some in each:


Think critically

Definition: Critical thinking is an evaluation process that involves questioning, gathering, and analyzing opinions and information relevant to the topic or problem under consideration. Critical thinking can be applied to all subject areas and modes of analysis (historical, mathematical, social, psychological, scientific, aesthetic, literary, etc.). Students who think critically:

  • Identify and define key issues
  • Determine information need, find and cite relevant information
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the context and complexity of the issue
  • Integrate other relevant points of view of the issue
  • Evaluate supporting information and evidence
  • Construct appropriate and defensible reasoning to draw conclusions

Engage diverse values with civic and ethical awareness

Definition: Engaged students actively participate as citizens of local, global and digital communities. Engaging requires recognizing and evaluating one's own views and the views of others. Engaged students are alert to how views and values impact individuals, circumstances, environments and communities. Students who engage:

  • Recognize and clarify personal values and perspectives
  • Evaluate diverse values and perspectives of others
  • Describe the impact of diverse values and perspectives on individuals, communities, and the world
  • Demonstrate knowledge of democratic values and practices
  • Collaborate with others to achieve shared goals

Create ideas and solutions

Definition: Creative thinking is the ability and capacity to create new ideas, images and solutions, and combine and recombine existing images and solutions. In this process, students use theory, embrace ambiguity, take risks, test for validity, generate new questions, and persist with the problem when faced with resistance, obstacles, errors, and the possibility of failure. Students who create:

  • Experiment with possibilities that move beyond traditional ideas or solutions. Embrace ambiguity and risk mistakes
  • Explore or resolve innovative and/or divergent ideas and directions, including contradictory ideas
  • Utilize technology to adapt to and create new media
  • Invent or hypothesize new variations on a theme, unique solutions or products; transform and revise solution or project to completion
  • Persist when faced with difficulties, resistance, or errors; assess failures or mistakes and rework
  • Reflect on successes, failures, and obstacles

Communicate effectively

Definition: To communicate effectively, students must be able to interact with diverse individuals and groups, and in many contexts of communication, from face-to-face to digital. Elements of effective communication vary by speaker, audience, purpose, language, culture, topic, and context. Effective communicators value and practice honesty and respect for others, exerting the effort required to listen and interact productively. Students who communicate effectively:

  • Select an effective and appropriate medium (such as face-to-face, written, broadcast, or digital) for conveying the message
  • Create and express messages with clear language and nonverbal forms appropriate to the audience and cultural context
  • Organize the message to adapt to cultural norms, audience, purpose, and medium
  • Support assertions with contextually appropriate and accurate examples, graphics, and quantitative information
  • Attend to messages, check for shared meaning, identify sources of misunderstanding, and signal comprehension or non-comprehension
  • Demonstrate honesty, openness to alternative views, and respect for others' freedom to dissent

Apply learning

Definition: Applied learning occurs when students use their knowledge and skills to solve problems, often in new contexts. When students also reflect on their experiences, they deepen their learning. By applying learning, students act on their knowledge. Students who apply learning:

  • Connect theory and practice to develop skills, deepen understanding of fields of study and broaden perspectives
  • Apply skills, abilities, theories or methodologies gained in one situation to new situations to solve problems or explore issues
  • Use mathematics and quantitative reasoning to solve problems
  • Integrate and reflect on experiences and learning from multiple and diverse contexts


Printable PDF version of the Core Learning Outcomes

Core Learning Outcomes Poster

Also see the Association of American Colleges and Universities recommended "Essential Learning Outcomes"  to provide a framework to guide students' cumulative progress through college.