Disciplined-based faculty from the three segments (i.e., community colleges, state universities, and the UMass System) worked together to identify foundational courses that represent the first two years of study in the discipline, and that our campuses will accept and count towards the completion of a baccalaureate degree. This was the critical groundwork that undergirds the Commonwealth Commitment (see the new MassTransfer website). The next vital step in that process is the development of learning outcomes for the foundational courses. These learning outcomes ensure that whether a course is taken at a community college, a state university, or the University of Massachusetts system, the learning outcomes are the same. Of course, how the faculty member achieves those learning outcomes is up to them based on their contractual right to academic freedom.
The notion of learning outcomes is critical to all of our work to continually improve the quality of teaching and student learning. The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) has long been a national leader in advancing a culture of learning outcomes assessment throughout public higher education. Given the growing clamor for increased accountability, DHE became acutely aware that we needed to develop ways to assess learning outcomes of our undergraduates using authentic student artifacts. Further, we also recognized that the best assessment of student learning outcomes derives from our faculty.
Thus, it is important to develop and promulgate the use of common learning outcomes for the foundational courses to ensure that students are developing the same knowledge and skills that will be required when they transfer to or continue to matriculate within a four year institution.
The following are the foundational learning outcomes by discipline that were developed in 2016-2017. There are additional ones being developed during 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 to be added. These learning outcomes have been distributed to chief academic officers at all public institutions of higher education to be distributed to and utilized by deans, department chairs, and faculty at the classroom level.
For the disciplined-based faculty who developed these learning outcomes, please refer to this list. These outcomes were also vetted by the MassTransfer Pathways discipline-based faculty members across all segments.