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Assessment of Student Learning

Learning Outcomes at Cornell

Learning opportunities abound at Cornell: from the lecture hall to the residence hall; from the laboratory to the athletic field. This large and complex institution offers many programs of study to a diverse student body. It is an international leader with a tradition of excellence, and it has advanced a rich legacy in many fields since its founding in 1865.

Within this complexity, there are common, shared themes across the various colleges and programs that are intended to shape the undergraduate experience at Cornell. These represent a set of institutional learning goals that are achieved through an array of programs, courses, and experiences. In addition, each college has established its own learning goals, appropriate for its mission.

Taken together, a Cornell education is much greater than the sum of its parts. We foster initiative, integrity, and excellence in an environment of collegiality, civility, and responsible stewardship. Our community fosters personal discovery and growth, nurtures scholarship and creativity across a broad range of knowledge, and engages men and women from every segment of society in this endeavor.

Through their courses of study, Cornell graduates should attain proficiency in:

  • Disciplinary Knowledge: demonstrate a systematic or coherent understanding of an academic field of study
  • Critical Thinking: apply analytic thought to a body of knowledge; evaluate arguments, identify relevant assumptions or implications; formulate coherent arguments
  • Communication Skills: express ideas clearly in writing; speak articulately; communicate with others using media as appropriate; work effectively with others
  • Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning: demonstrate the ability to understand cause and effect relationships; define problems; use symbolic thought; apply scientific principles; solve problems with no single correct answer
  • Self-Directed Learning: work independently; identify appropriate resources; take initiative; manage a project through to completion
  • Information Literacy: access, evaluate, and use a variety of relevant information sources
  • Engagement in the Process of Discovery or Creation: for example, demonstrate the ability to work productively in a laboratory setting, studio, library, or field environment

In addition, the Cornell environment strives to foster collegiality, civility, and responsible stewardship. Through academic studies, and through broader experiences and activities in the university community on and off campus, Cornell graduates should develop a deeper understanding of:

  • Multi-Cultural Competence: for example, express an understanding of the values and beliefs of multiple cultures; effectively engage in a multicultural society; interact respectfully with diverse others; develop a global perspective
  • Moral and Ethical Awareness: embrace moral/ethical values in conducting one's life; formulate a position/argument about an ethical issue from multiple perspectives; use ethical practices in all work
  • Self-management: care for oneself responsibly, demonstrate awareness of one's self in relation to others
  • Community Engagement: demonstrate responsible behavior; engage in the intellectual life of the university outside the classroom; participate in community and civic affairs

Learn more about how our students are achieving these goals >>

Undergraduate College Learning Goals

Graduate and Professional School Learning Goals