General Education Goals and Objectives

The General Education Program is guided by the following goals and objectives:

(These goals and objectives comply with the requirements for general education at Louisiana colleges and universities set by the Louisiana Board of Regents and also with accreditation criteria set by SACSCOC.)

Core Proficiency Skills

Effective Communication

Goal:  Upon completion of their degree program, students will be able to effectively use the English language, writing and speaking with clarity, coherence, and persuasiveness.

Rationale: Students should complete introductory communication requirements within their first two years of undergraduate work. Basic college-level proficiency in writing is to be achieved by successful completion of a 6-hour writing sequence, English 101 and English 102, and is to continue to be developed by the required 3-hour writing-intensive course, as well as by the integration of writing as a tool of inquiry throughout the major. Oral competency is to be specified by each degree program from a list of approved courses (See Core Curriculum). Oral communication skills should continue to be developed within the major.

Learning Objectives for Effective Communication in Writing

Students will be able to

  • Use the standard diction, grammar, and mechanics of American English
  • Apply fundamental strategies such as invention, drafting, revising, editing for their writing projects
  • Adapt writing to specific purposes, contexts, and audiences
  • Employ conventions appropriate to academic and professional writing
  • Develop a controlling idea or thesis for the writing project
  • Develop effective organizational strategies
  • Arrange supporting details coherently
  • Employ a variety of sentence structure, using effective coordination and subordination
  • Construct logical and persuasive arguments
  • Locate, evaluate, and synthesize primary and secondary sources into presentations without falling into plagiarism
  • Document sources in at least one standard style of documentation

Learning Objectives for Effective Communication through Speaking

Students will be able to

  • Apply basic principles of rhetorical communication, especially those related to analyzing audience and purpose
  • Generate, evaluate, and organize material for effective oral presentation
  • Deliver effective oral presentations in a variety of communication settings, using standard diction of American English
  • Speak clearly and project the voice sufficiently, employing appropriate verbal and nonverbal strategies
  • Utilize visual aids effectively
  • Lead and participate effectively in group discussions
  • Apply active listening skills in interpersonal settings


Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics

Goal:  Upon completion of their degree program, students will be able to comprehend and to use quantitative concepts and methods to interpret and to critically evaluate data and to effectively problem-solve in a variety of contexts demanding quantitative literacy.

Rationale: Students gain their initial college-level competency in mathematics through completion of Math 101 with a C or better or by credit in calculus. They are then required to take a second mathematics course, according their skill level and major. This six-hour core requirement provides the opportunity to use mathematics as an essential quantitative tool of analysis, but, more importantly, to provide a foundation for the development of quantitative reasoning. Because quantitative reasoning is an essential skill in all disciplines, all degree programs should ensure that students continue to develop their quantitative literacy. Upon graduation, students should be able to apply basic mathematical methods to solve real-world problems.

Learning Objectives for Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics

Students will be able to

  • Perform calculations with integers, fractions (rational numbers), decimals, ratios and percents
  • Use arithmetic, algebraic, and/or geometric and statistical methods, to solve applied and word problems
  • Demonstrate understanding of the terms and symbols used to generate, present, and analyze data
  • Interpret and evaluate quantitative or symbolic models such as graphs, tables, units of measurement, scales, distributions
  • Represent and communicate quantitative or symbolic information
  • Generate and apply conclusions based on pattern recognition

Computer Literacy

Goal:  Upon completion of their degree program, students will be able to demonstrate competence in computer literacy, including fundamental concepts of computing and fluency in the use of contemporary computing and information technology.

Computing and informational technologies grow and change at a very rapid pace. Therefore, a firm grounding in the foundational concepts of computing in information technology must be achieved. These foundational concepts will be applied through the use of contemporary hardware, software, and network infrastructure. At Nicholls, all students must achieve competency in computer literacy to enable to them to access, to interpret, and to apply information that facilitates learning and critical inquiry. Computer literacy is determined by each department from the list of approved courses or through a competency exam, administered each semester by the Department of Computer Science.

Learning Objectives for Computer Literacy

Students will be able to

  • Effectively organize, manage, and present data, using contemporary software applications such as spreadsheets, word processing, databases, and electronic presentation software
  • Store and retrieve data from locally (e.g. from within the computer, a CD-ROM, or USB drive) or remotely (e.g. via a network virtual drive, FTP service, or WebDAV service)
  • Understand the relationships of key components behind concepts such as hardware, networks, data storage, operating systems, and software programs

Breadth-of-Knowledge Areas

Fine Arts: The Aesthetic Experience

Goal:  Upon completion of their degree program, students will have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the creative process, the pleasures and challenges of artistic expression, and the role and value of the fine arts in society and culture.

The Fine Arts requirement provides students with the opportunity to explore and to value aesthetic creation and form as an essential means of conceiving and expressing the human experience. This exploration can take the form of performance, application, or study in a three-hour course in art or music. The specific learning objectives are further developed and broadened through the opportunity to participate in or to attend cultural and artistic events on campus.

Learning Objectives for the Fine Arts Requirement

In at least one area of the fine arts, students will be able to

  • Depending upon the nature of the course, demonstrate an understanding of the history of one art form or describe the historical, political, or social context out of which a notable category of work arose
  • Recognize the techniques or forms used in at least one form of art
  • Articulate the difference between the aesthetic values of two historical periods, cultures, or civilizations
  • Identify and evaluate the influence of artistic achievement in society and in their personal lives

The Humanities: Cultural and Historical Understanding

Goal: Upon completion of their degree program, students will have a richer understanding of the human condition through investigation, appreciation, and evaluation of the aesthetic, historical, philosophical and literary dimensions of human experience.

Rationale: The general education humanities courses offer students a means for understanding the human condition through the study, appreciation, and evaluation of the ways that intellectual and aesthetic endeavors have shaped and continue to shape human culture and experience. Because these dimensions are expressed through written texts and artifacts, students sharpen their reading, interpretative and analytical skills as they develop a critical understanding of cultures and traditions different from their own. Study in the humanities also encourages a thoughtful examination into the nature of rational inquiry itself and into the values, ethics, and the moral dimensions of private and public life. The Humanities requirement is fulfilled by a three-hour history course (Western civilization or World) and three hours of sophomore-level literature or philosophy.

Learning Objectives for the courses on the Humanities list

Students will be able to

  • Evaluate contemporary issues and/or historical problems within the discipline’s contexts
  • Employ a wide range of methods for recording and explaining the human experience
  • Demonstrate awareness of cultural practices and how being from a particular culture affects experiences and values

Learning Objectives for the Humanities history requirement

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the central events and institutions of world civilizations
  • Describe and analyze the historical, political, economic, and cultural impact of the West on other areas of the world
  • Apply historical knowledge to evaluate contemporary issues or problems

Learning Objectives for the Literature Requirement

Students will be able to

  • Analyze and construct clear and well-supported interpretations of literary texts
  • Demonstrate a familiarity with central forms and genres of literature, as well as with basic critical terminology and approaches used to analyze these forms and genres
  • Understand how literature reflects, interacts, and influences society, history, and culture
  • Demonstrate a familiarity with a range of influential works and authors from various time periods and from Western and/or non-Western contexts
  • Recognize and describe, by example, how literature provides the opportunity for intellectual and imaginative participation in various modes of human thought and values, not necessarily their own, thereby offering the opportunity for growth in self-knowledge and in reflection on their relationship to others and to the world around them.

Natural Sciences: Scientific Reasoning and Understanding

Goal:  Upon completion of their degree program, students will be able to comprehend and to apply the basic principles of science and methods of scientific inquiry.

Rationale: Through exposure to both the biological sciences and the physical sciences, students will develop a greater understanding of how science is the process of understanding natural phenomena. Students also need to be familiar with the vocabulary and methods of science so that they can understand and value the importance of scientific inquiry in the world around them and be better prepared to evaluate and to utilize new information and technologies. General education science courses further develop students’ critical thinking skills by encouraging open-mindedness and a reasoned understanding of the nature of evidence and the methods of acquiring and testing it.

To fulfill general education requirements, students choose a six-hour sequence in the biological or physical sciences and a three-hour course in the area other than that selected for the sequence as specified by the degree program.

Learning Objectives for Scientific Reasoning and Understanding:

Students will be able to

  • Differentiate among facts, laws, theories, and hypotheses
  • Define major concepts, principles, and fundamental theories in at least one area of science
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic terminology in at least one area of science
  • Formulate a hypothesis, given a simple problem or questions, and design a valid experiment to test it
  • Make informed decisions on contemporary consumer or social issues demanding scientific literacy

The Social and Behavioral Sciences: The Individual and Society

Goal:  Upon completion of their degree program, students will have developed a deeper understanding of the relation of self to world through investigation of the influence of social, cultural, economic, and political institutions in shaping human thought, value, and behavior.

Rationale: The social and behavioral sciences are made up of the disciplines that use the methods of scientific inquiry to understand human behavior and the interrelationship of human experience and societal, political, and economic systems. Study in these fields enhances students’ awareness of the interdependent nature of individuals and societies and thus better equips them for thoughtful participation in a democratic society. Study here also encourages greater sensitivity to differences among people. However diverse the specific disciplines are in this category, they all investigate group differences–whether economic, ethnic, psychological–and thus expose students to significant issues of cultural diversity. Finally, like all breadth-of-knowledge areas, study in this category requires students to examine their pre-conceptions about the world and to interpret and analyze logically. The Social and Behavioral Science Requirement is fulfilled by six credit hours to be chosen from the following disciplines: Economics, Geography, Government, Psychology, or Sociology. Three of the six hours must be at the sophomore-level.

Learning Objectives for the Social and Behavioral Sciences Requirement:

In the context of at least one social science, students will be able to

  • Define key terms within the discipline
  • Explain main concepts within the discipline
  • Analyze the discipline’s core principles