Academics

General Education Goals and Student Learning Outcomes

The importance of providing every graduate with a strong background in general education is reflected in both the structure and content of the associate degree programs at Virginia Western Community College. Programs typically devote twenty-five percent or more of the credits required for graduation to the study of general education courses, including at least one course from each of the following: Humanities/Fine Arts, Social/Behavior Sciences, Natural Sciences/Mathematics, and Health/Physical Education. These general education courses, specialized courses in the major field, orientation sessions, and extracurricular activities, are designed to provide each graduate with a collegiate experience that supports the development of the following general education goals:

Communication

A competent communicator can interact with others using all forms of communication, resulting in understanding and being understood. Degree graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. understand and interpret complex materials;
  2. assimilate, organize, develop, and present an idea formally and informally;
  3. use standard English;
  4. use appropriate verbal and non-verbal responses in interpersonal relations and group discussions;
  5. use listening skills;
  6. recognize the role of culture in communication.

Critical Thinking

A competent critical thinker evaluates evidence carefully and applies reasoning to decide what to believe and how to act. Degree graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. discriminate among degrees of credibility, accuracy, and reliability of inferences drawn from given data;
  2. recognize parallels, assumptions, or resuppositions in any given source of information;
  3. evaluate the strengths and relevance of arguments on a particular question or issue;
  4. weigh evidence and decide if generalizations or conclusions based on the given data are warranted;
  5. determine whether certain conclusions or consequences are supported by the information provided;
  6. use problem solving skills.

Cultural and Social Understanding

A culturally and socially competent person possesses an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the interconnectedness of the social and cultural dimensions within and across local, regional, state, national, and global communities. Degree graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. assess the impact that social institutions have on individuals and culture-past, present, and future;
  2. describe their own as well as others’ personal ethical systems and values within social institutions;
  3. recognize the impact that arts and humanities have upon individuals and cultures;
  4. recognize the role of language in social and cultural contexts;
  5. recognize the interdependence of distinctive worldwide social, economic, geopolitical, and cultural systems.

Information Literacy

A person who is competent in information literacy recognizes when information is needed and has the ability to locate, evaluate, and use it effectively (adapted from the American Library Association definition). Degree graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. determine the nature and extent of the information needed;
  2. access needed information effectively and efficiently;
  3. evaluate information and its sources critically and incorporate selected information into his or her knowledge base;
  4. use information effectively, individually or as a member of a group, to accomplish a specific purpose;
  5. understand many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and access and use information ethically and legally.

Personal Development

An individual engaged in personal development strives for physical wellbeing and emotional maturity. Degree graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. develop and/or refine personal wellness goals;
  2. develop and/or enhance the knowledge, skills, and understanding to make informed academic, social, personal, career, and interpersonal decisions.

Quantitative Reasoning

A person who is competent in quantitative reasoning possesses the skills and knowledge necessary to apply the use of logic, numbers, and mathematics to deal effectively with common problems and issues. A person who is quantitatively literate can use numerical, geometric, and measurement data and concepts, mathematical skills, and principles of mathematical reasoning to draw logical conclusions and to make well-reasoned decisions. Degree graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. use logical and mathematical reasoning within the context of various disciplines;
  2. interpret and use mathematical formulas;
  3. interpret mathematical models such as graphs, tables and schematics and draw inferences from them;
  4. use graphical, symbolic, and numerical methods to analyze, organize, and interpret data;
  5. estimate and consider answers to mathematical problems in order to determine reasonableness;
  6. represent mathematical information numerically, symbolically, and visually, using graphs and charts.

Scientific Reasoning

A person who is competent in scientific reasoning adheres to a self-correcting system of inquiry (the scientific method) and relies on empirical evidence to describe, understand, predict, and control natural phenomena. Degree graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. generate an empirically evidenced and logical argument;
  2. distinguish a scientific argument from a non-scientific argument;
  3. reason by deduction, induction and analogy;
  4. distinguish between causal and correlational relationships;
  5. recognize methods of inquiry that lead to scientific knowledge.

Computer Competency

Virginia Western Community College ensures that students are able to demonstrate college entry-level computer skills necessary for academic success and discipline-specific skills necessary for successful transfer or employment.

Program Competencies

The AS and AA degree programs are designed for students who plan to transfer to a four-year college or university baccalaureate degree. Upon completion of an AA or AS program, the graduate should have:

  1. A broad, general education and the knowledge and skills required of all associate degree students at Virginia Western;
  2. Computer literacy competencies required of all associate degree students at Virginia Western;
  3. The educational knowledge and skills resulting from completing a core of major courses that will provide support for the student’s transfer goals;
  4. The course work needed to transfer as an upper-level student to a four-year college or university with little or no loss of credit;
  5. The academic background and study skills needed to succeed after transferring to a baccalaureate degree program.

AAS degree programs are designed to prepare students for direct entry into the job market in technical and paraprofessional fields. A few of the programs also prepare students to transfer to selected baccalaureate degree programs. Upon completion of an AAS degree program, the graduate should have:

  1. A broad, general education and the knowledge and skills required of all associate degree students at Virginia Western;
  2. Computer literacy competencies required of all associate degree students at Virginia Western;
  3. The educational background and occupational training necessary for immediate employment;
  4. The skills and knowledge needed to perform satisfactorily on the job;
  5. The course work necessary to transfer to and succeed in baccalaureate degree programs that accept transfer students from technical degree programs.

Certificate programs are designed to prepare students for direct entry into the job market as technicians, skilled, and semi-skilled workers. Upon completion of a certificate program, the graduate should have:

  1. A background in general education;
  2. The educational background and occupational training necessary for immediate employment;
  3. The skills and knowledge needed to perform satisfactorily on the job.

Career Studies programs are designed to prepare students for direct entry into the job market in occupational fields that require entry-level skills and knowledge. Some of the programs also provide persons already employed with an opportunity to upgrade their skills and knowledge. Upon completion of a career studies program, the graduate should have:

  1. Entry-level skills and knowledge needed for immediate employment in selected fields;
  2. The skills and knowledge needed to perform satisfactorily on the job;
  3. Up-to-date knowledge and skills in a designated occupational area.

Outcomes Assessment Requirement

Students may be required to take one or more tests designed to measure general education achievement and/or achievement in selected major areas prior to graduation for the purpose of evaluation of academic programs. No minimum score or level of achievement is required for graduation. Test results will remain confidential and will be used for the sole purpose of improvement of the college.

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