Taking Learning Beyond Textbooks and Tests
More than just a place to earn a degree, Miami Dade College strives to be a destination for students to learn how to become responsible global citizens and successful, lifelong learners. Its most important tool for accomplishing this goal is the College’s 10 Learning Outcomes, also known affectionately as the “Big 10.”
This list of fundamental knowledge and skills is instilled in students through curriculum and co-curricular activities in all academic disciplines, which help ensure students emerge from MDC as well-rounded graduates who can succeed in the real world. This nationally recognized and award-winning initiative has become a model for other institutes of higher education around the country.
Surveys of MDC grads show the lessons are working. Graduates’ perceptions of the College’s contribution to their ability levels on the 10 Learning Outcomes continues to increase, rising to 79 percent from 77 percent in 2009-10.
Students’ ratings of their own mastery of the Learning Outcomes also is steadily rising (see chart below), especially in the areas of:
- Critical thinking
- Information literacy
- Global, cultural and historical perspectives
- Civic and social responsibilities
- Ethical thinking
- Computer usage
- Appreciation of creative activities
These categories have seen the most improvement, but students’ self-ratings stand impressively at more than 94 percent or higher in every single Learning Outcome, with many approaching 99 percent.
“The Learning Outcomes are at the heart of all that we do to improve student learning,” said Dr. Lenore Rodicio, vice provost for student achievement. “They build a foundation for student success and provide learning that leads to empowered and responsible citizens. Ensuring that our students have ample opportunity to acquire these essential outcomes is a shared responsibility among all faculty, staff and administrators here at MDC.”
Outside the Classroom Walls
Many of the College’s professors have developed innovative ways to incorporate these skills into their teaching, whether it’s math students exploring geometry in hands-on activities during a visit to Miami International Sculpture Park or architecture students tasked with designing an environmentally responsible kindergarten building for a local site. These types of activities get students out of the classroom and help accelerate their analytical and communication skills.
“When the College came up with the 10 Learning Outcomes, part of what we wanted was to touch on the idea of educating the whole person,” said MDC Associate Professor Carlos González Morales, who teaches communications. His students were able to focus on social responsibility, expand their cultural perspectives and develop their communication skills with weekly visits to a local elementary school in one of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods, where they helped the kids works on their literacy, writing and language skills.
“These activities remind students that the community is an essential part of the educational experience and that giving back and being involved in the community is a very important part of being an educated human being,” he said.
The 10 Learning Outcomes
- As graduates of Miami Dade College, students will be able to:
- Communicate effectively using listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.
- Use quantitative analytical skills to evaluate and process numerical data.
- Solve problems using critical and creative thinking and scientific reasoning.
- Formulate strategies to locate, evaluate and apply information.
- Demonstrate knowledge of diverse cultures, including global and historical perspectives.
- Create strategies that can be used to fulfill personal, civic and social responsibilities.
- Demonstrate knowledge of ethical thinking and its application to issues in society.
- Use computer and emerging technologies effectively.
- Demonstrate an appreciation for aesthetics and creative activities.
- Describe how natural systems function and recognize the impact of humans on the environment.
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