Student Learning Outcomes

The Swearer Center has identified a core set of learning outcomes and associated competencies that will inform the development of student programs and initiatives and guide our assessment and evaluation of work. This document outlines six high-level learning outcomes and a series of associated competencies. The format below is as follows: the general learning outcome is stated (in bold) and then a definition is provided (in italics). Underneath are listed a series of competencies associated with that learning outcome. These competencies are discrete and demonstrable skills or sets of abilities that can be acquired through curricular, co-curricular and/or experiential learning opportunities. In general, the competencies run from those that are more conceptually-oriented -- having to do with understanding, knowledge acquisition and/or creation -- to those that are more action-oriented.

Swearer Center Learning Outcomes and Associated Competencies

1. Critical Reflection

  • Demonstrates evidence of growing self-awareness and development through ongoing reflection on experience, practice and context.
  • Identifies assumptions (taken-for-granted ideas, “commonsense” beliefs, inherited values) that underlie beliefs and actions.
  • Assesses and scrutinizes the validity of assumptions through dialogue, practical experiences and expanded understanding of context.
  • Challenges assumptions, becoming more inclusive, critical and integrative, and uses newly-formed knowledge to more appropriately inform future actions and practices. 

(Adapted from:


2. Integrative Learning

  • Connects and extends knowledge across fields of study and inquiry and in relation to experiences gained outside of the classroom.
  • Uses skills, approaches and knowledge from multiple disciplines and perspectives to understand and develop responses to complex questions, challenges or problems.
  • Makes connections between academic studies (theory) and experiential learning contexts (practice).
  • Adapts and applies skills, abilities, theories or methodologies gained in one situation to new situations.

(Adapted from AAC&U Integrative Learning VALUE Rubric:


3. Cultural Understanding and Humility

  • Demonstrates capacity to be transformed - in knowledge, attitudes and behavior - by engagements with multiple points of view, experiences and worldviews.
  • Investigates and understands cultural, historical, social, political and economic factors that shape communities and the perspectives and identities of community members.
  • Studies patterns of subconscious and conscious bias and stereotyping and recognizes his or her own positionality and privilege.
  • Understands dynamics of community mistrust arising from historical and institutional practices and policies.
  • Works actively to redress power imbalances in social interactions and decision-making.
  • Demonstrates ongoing engagement in lifelong learning, critical self-reflection and reflective practice across contexts

(Adapted from Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998; Ross, L., Notes from the field: Learning cultural humility through critical incidents and central challenges in community-based participatory research. Journal of Community Practice, 2010)

4. Ethical Practice

  • Demonstrates understanding of ethical and social justice concerns and increased sense of social responsibility. Explores intersections between identity and privilege; possesses moral and political courage to take risks to achieve greater public good.
  • Recognizes other points of view and actively considers standpoint of others (empathy).
  • Analyzes complex ethical and social justice issues,
  • Identifies and challenges power imbalances.
  • Acts respectfully and responsibly in all forms of community work
  • Takes informed and responsible action to address ethical and social justice challenges.


5. Civic, Community and Public Engagement

  • Understands roots of inequality and injustice in communities and develops knowledge, skills, values and motivation needed to bring about positive social and political change.
  • Understands how to identify the needs and assets of communities.
  • Understands benefits and potential challenges of community-campus partnerships.
  • Analyzes structural conditions that have resulted in injustice, inequality and other forms of social marginality.
  • Identifies and analyzes relevant pathways for social change.
  • Works collaboratively with community partners to develop and implement appropriate social change strategies.


6. Effective Action, Collaboration and Leadership

  • Demonstrates ability to operate effectively - individually and collaboratively - in planning, coordinating, implementing and evaluating actions required to advance social change.
  • Understands and articulates multiple modes of social change and interconnected systems and structures of power. 
  • Identifies points of entry for individual and community action to address systemic challenges and develop strategies for change. 
  • Identifies strengths and resources in oneself and in teams, and builds constructive and meaningful relationships. 
  • Navigates existing structures to yield sustainable, just and systemic change. 
  • Communicates clearly and effectively across contexts, in groups and in various media. 
  • Acts effectively as a participatory, inclusive, purposeful and process-oriented leader. 

(Adapted from