Foundations of Learning Project

This project includes key elements to provide and assess student learning, particularly in areas of general education, at Southwestern Community College. Departments from both the instructional and non-instructional divisions are challenged to support student learning in ways that are appropriate for their responsibilities to the college.

The instructional division at Southwestern Community College has organized efforts to incorporate and assess general education areas and outcome statements throughout the arts and sciences and career and technical programs. Particular areas of focus will include more comprehensive and effective reporting with a planned “cycle of improvement” that builds on assessment results.

New for Southwestern Community College will be the inclusion of the non-instructional departments of the college in supporting and assessing general education. These areas of the college have actively assessed the effectiveness of their services to students and to the college but not as they related to students learning.

By including all employees in the Foundations of Learning Project, meaningful change is expected in the institutional culture that supports student learning and strengthens the connection between the assessment process and strategic planning.

The purposes of the project are to:

  • establish a process that effectively uses general education assessment results to make improvements
  • engage more departments and personnel from throughout the college in the student learning process
  • incorporate general education into student life as well as the classroom
  • strengthen the link between assessment and strategic planning
  • improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the general education assessment process

The goals of the project are as follows:

The project supports better communication of assessment processes and results among college faculty, staff and administration and supports the use of assessment results to create action plans designed to improve student learning.

  • The instructional division will research and evaluate the use of additional external examinations for general education assessments and increase the effectiveness and validity of internal examinations.
  • The instructional division will develop improved data collection and reporting mechanisms to support the assessment of general education throughout the curriculum.
  • The instructional division will advance the documentation of assessment results and how they will be utilized for improvements in general education.
  • The non-instructional departments will develop strategies to support student learning in at least one area of general education or to support student learning in general.
  • The non-instructional departments will develop and implement a process for assessing impact on students with respect to general education or student learning in general.
  • The Assessment Sub-Committee will structure communication and reporting systems within the college to support continuous improvement in student learning among all departments with key committees being the Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment Committee.
  • The Assessment Sub-Committee will lead the effort to expand the general education assessment process to include more stakeholders.
  • The Assessment Sub-Committee will create a high quality publication that communicates the effectiveness of general education across the college to stakeholders.

The intended impact of the project is to:

  • promote meaningful change to instructional curriculum, student life and campus services
  • aid in the identification of needed resources and decision-making in strategic planning
  • consider how all departments will support student learning and engagement in attaining foundational skills

Annual Improvement Process

In order to ensure Southwestern Community College continues to provide students with a high-quality education, it is important that time and energy be devoted by all college personnel to the assessment process.  An important fundamental activity of the annual college-wide assessment process is the Assessment Retreat.  This day-long activity is scheduled early in the fall semester.  Classes are canceled and all college personnel focus on improving student learning by planning and designing various unique assessment activities.   This day-long assessment retreat focuses on all aspects of the assessment process.  The morning session provides time for faculty to collaborate to analyze data and complete reports and write narrative summaries of their assessment projects from the previous year.  The afternoon session allows time for collaboration and planning of future assessment activities for the next academic year.  Time is devoted to the sharing of best practices in assessment among the faculty and staff.  The energy and collaboration of this annual event provides renewed vigor and promise to the college’s commitment to producing superior students.


The production of certain deliverables will also serve as indicators of progress for the project. Anticipated deliverables include:

  • A document clearly describing the processes for assessing general education
  • Enhanced data collection methodology and forms
  • An assessment map of learner outcomes that tie to general education statements
  • A gap analysis of and strategies to link general education statements
  • A summary of external exams that are considered and used
  • Documented strategies from non-instructional departments for assessing general education outcome statements supported by research
  • Examples of how assessment results are used for improvement and for institutional strategic planning
  • Minutes and summaries of meetings where general education and assessment are discussed
  • Descriptions of professional development activities provided to employees

General Education Outcome Areas and Statements

The general education areas and outcome statement at Southwestern Community College represents the knowledge and skills that all students who graduate from the college should achieve as a result of their college education. The statements are written so that they are appropriate for students intending to transfer to four-year programs of study after graduation and for those who complete a career and technical degree and plan on immediate employment.


Students will demonstrate a proficiency in communication by  

  1. writing documents that are clear, organized and appropriate for the reader.
  2. presenting an organized, clearly spoken oral message appropriate to purpose and audience.
  3. listening attentively to a verbal message and understanding its content.

Critical Thinking  

Students will demonstrate critical thinking skills by

  1. analyzing information in any form for accuracy, relevancy and reliability.
  2. scrutinizing an argument to separate fact from opinion and identifying assumptions and inferences.
  3. assessing a problem and proposing reasonable solutions to it.

Cultural Awareness

Students will develop an awareness of their own culture as well as the culture of others by

  1. recognizing culturally based differences between themselves and others including language, social and political systems, and religion.
  2. relating relevant historical information to current situations.
  3. explaining the cultural importance of the fine arts. 

Financial Literacy

Students will develop financial literacy by

  1. constructing a personal budget including short-term and long-term financial planning and goals.  
  2. explaining the impact of indebtedness on finances and credit ratings.
  3. discussing economic variables such as interest rates, installment payments and inflation.

Interpersonal Skills  

Students will demonstrate professional and interpersonal behaviors by

  1. applying appropriate work effort for the successful completion of challenging assignments.
  2. cooperating with others as a member of a team.
  3. demonstrating a willingness to act as a leader in appropriate situations.
  4. caring for personal health.
  5. recognizing and valuing the existence of different points of view.


Students will demonstrate mathematical proficiency necessary for success in their chosen field of study or occupation by

  1. obtaining correct mathematical results with or without technological assistance.
  2. identifying relevant data for solving a problem.
  3. manipulating data to solve a problem.
  4. distinguishing whether a mathematical solution is reasonable or erroneous.

Reading Comprehension

Students will demonstrate reading comprehension by

  1. accurately interpreting documents appropriate for their field of study or occupation.
  2. discussing the accuracy, reliability and appropriateness of a variety of written documents.
  3. successfully following written instructions.


Students will demonstrate an understanding of scientific knowledge necessary for success in their chosen field by

  1. applying basic scientific principles to complete a task, project or assignment.
  2. discussing how their actions will impact an area of science.

Technology Literacy

Students will demonstrate technology literacy by

  1. using technology appropriate for the field of study or occupation chosen.
  2. using information technology responsibly as a tool for creativity, research, publication, critical thinking and/or communication.
  3. discussing the impact of technology on the individual and society.

SWCC Vision Statement

Southwestern Community College will be the center of educational excellence for the advancement of our students and communities.

SWCC Purpose Statement

Southwestern Community College exists in order that community members have opportunities to gain skills and knowledge sufficient for successful employment, higher education achievement, and lifelong learning.

For additional information contact:

Bill Taylor    
Vice President of Instruction   
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Beth Kulow
Dean of Student Services
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