English Department Learning Outcomes

Note: This list of learning objectives is derived from the more detailed list of objectives drafted by the English faculty in 2000. It is meant to summarize, but not replace, that list.

Humans are linguistic animals. Language is the most fundamental and pervasive tool we have for interpreting our world and communicating with others as we act in and attempt to transform that world. Whether they pursue an emphasis in literature or writing, English majors gain a deeper understanding of the resources of the written word. Both literature and writing courses help students explore how writers use the creative resources of language-in fiction, poetry, nonfiction prose, and drama-to explore the entire range of human experience. English courses help students build skills of analytical and interpretive argument; become careful and critical readers; practice writing-in a variety of genres-as a process of intellectual inquiry and creative expression; and ultimately to become more effective thinkers and communicators who are well-equipped for a variety of careers in our information-intensive society.

Specific learning outcomes for English courses include the following:

1. Reading: Students will become accomplished, active readers who appreciate ambiguity and complexity, and who can articulate their own interpretations with an awareness and curiosity for other perspectives.

2. Writing skills and process: Students will be able to write effectively for a variety of professional and social settings. They will practice writing as a process of motivated inquiry, engaging other writers’ ideas as they explore and develop their own. They will demonstrate an ability to revise for content and edit for grammatical and stylistic clarity. And they will develop an awareness of and confidence in their own voice as a writer.

3. Sense of Genre: Students will develop an appreciation of how the formal elements of language and genre shape meaning. They will recognize how writers can transgress or subvert generic expectations, as well as fulfill them. And they will develop a facility at writing in appropriate genres for a variety of purposes and audiences.

4. Culture and History: Students will gain a knowledge of the major traditions of literatures written in English, and an appreciation for the diversity of literary and social voices within–and sometimes marginalized by–those traditions. They will develop an ability to read texts in relation to their historical and cultural contexts, in order to gain a richer understanding of both text and context, and to become more aware of themselves as situated historically and culturally.

5. Critical Approaches: Students will develop the ability to read works of literary, rhetorical, and cultural criticism, and deploy ideas from these texts in their own reading and writing. They will express their own ideas as informed opinions that are in dialogue with a larger community of interpreters, and understand how their own approach compares to the variety of critical and theoretical approaches.

6. Research Skills: Students will be able to identify topics and formulate questions for productive inquiry; they will identify appropriate methods and sources for research and evaluate critically the sources they find; and they will use their chosen sources effectively in their own writing, citing all sources appropriately.

7. Oral communication skills: Students will demonstrate the skills needed to participate in a conversation that builds knowledge collaboratively: listening carefully and respectfully to others’ viewpoints; articulating their own ideas and questions clearly; and situating their own ideas in relation to other voices and ideas. Students will be able to prepare, organize, and deliver an engaging oral presentation.

8. Valuing literature, language, and imagination: Students will develop a passion for literature and language. They will appreciate literature’s ability to elicit feeling, cultivate the imagination, and call us to account as humans. They will cultivate their capacity to judge the aesthetic and ethical value of literary texts–and be able to articulate the standards behind their judgments. They will appreciate the expressive use of language as a fundamental and sustaining human activity, preparing for a life of learning as readers and writers.

Literature Element of the General University Requirement

Framing Language and Program Goals:

Literature courses in the Department of English offer students the opportunity to study influential writings from the British, American, and global Anglophone traditions. Courses may focus on a historical period, an issue or theme, a critical approach, or a literary genre. Literature provides imaginative and critical insights into all areas of human experience-war and peace, nature and culture, love and sexuality, selfhood and social identity, justice and atrocity, the sacred and the profane, the burdens of history and the dreams of the future. Learning to attend to the complexities of literary texts helps students become more active and critical readers, and the creative aspects of literary texts highlight the ability of the written word to elicit feeling, to cultivate an imaginative openness to others’ experiences, and to call us to account as humans. Studying literature at the college level encourages all PLU graduates to view the reading of challenging and imaginative texts as an essential and rewarding part of a life-long commitment to learning and growth.

GUR Element Description:

Literature: Literary study explores how writers from a vast array of cultural traditions have used the creative resources of language-in fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction prose-to explore the entire range of human experience. The practice of reading literary texts exercises the imagination, cultivates a capacity for understanding ambiguity and complexity, and instills a sensitivity to the diversities of human existence. Literary study builds skills of analytical and interpretive argument, helping students become creative and critical writers.

GUR Element Learning Outcomes

The English Department has developed the following learning objectives for 190 and 200-level literature courses. Students may also fulfill the Literature Element by taking a 300-level literature course, which, will include more advanced learning objectives in addition to those listed here. (Please refer to the English Department’s list of learning outcomes for majors):

The student will:

1. Gain an introductory knowledge of the some of the issues explored in influential works of the English-language tradition, and of some of the stylistic strategies writers have used to explore those issues.

2. Read complex texts actively: recognize key passages; raise questions; appreciate complexity and ambiguity; comprehend the literal and figurative uses of language.

3. Appreciate literary form: recognize how form and structure shape a text’s meaning; appreciate how genre generates expectations and shapes meanings.

4. Interpret texts with an awareness of and curiosity for other viewpoints.

5. Practice writing as a process of motivated inquiry, engaging other writers’ ideas through the use of quotations, paraphrase, allusions and summary. Use sources well and cite them correctly.

6. Increase confidence in speaking publicly: articulate clear questions and ideas in class discussion; listen thoughtfully and respectfully to others’ ideas; and prepare, organize, and deliver engaging oral presentations.

7. Attend to a wider range of voices within and across cultures.

8. Enjoy the experience of reading challenging literature: appreciate literature’s ability to elicit feeling, cultivate the imagination, and call us to account as humans.

Alignment to the University ILOs:

University ILOs that align to this General Education element are:

  • Knowledge base
  • Critical Reflection
  • Expression
  • Interaction with others
  • Valuing
  • Multiple Frameworks

Approved April, 2009