Learning Outcomes

Return on Education

At Gustavus Adolphus College, we seek to foster in students a capacity and passion for life-long learning. The following Institutional Student Learning Outcomes provide a foundation for such learning.

Cognitive Practice

College Understanding: Cognitive practice encompasses skills such as critical thinking, effective reasoning, and creative problem solving. Cognitive practice includes the ability to analyze information, to creatively and thoughtfully explore questions, and to develop unique answers.

Student Learning Outcome: Students will thoughtfully analyze enduring and contemporary questions from multiple perspectives, will independently develop original and creative solutions to complex problems, and will support their reasoning while considering other possibilities.

Intellectual Capacities

College Understanding: Intellectual capacities encompass the skills necessary for effective written and oral communication, quantitative literacy, and creative expression.

Student Learning Outcome: Students will demonstrate the ability to understand and communicate effectively across a variety of modes, including written, oral, visual, creative, and quantitative.

Integration of Learning

College Understanding: Integration of learning is “the demonstrated ability to connect information from disparate contexts and perspectives.” (from “Liberal Arts Student Learning Outcomes: An Integrated Approach”). Integration of learning produces a seamlessness of perspective in which multiple fields are connected together in approaching a subject of study.

Student Learning Outcome: Students will synthesize and apply their broad and specialized knowledge, skills, and ways of knowing in varied contexts.

Ethical Reflection

College Understanding: Ethical reflection is the thoughtful evaluation of ethical questions and the development of a critical awareness regarding the values that inform the choices all people, including oneself, make when confronting such questions.

Student Learning Outcome: Students will critically contemplate the conflicting value choices of the ethically complex world in which we live, will articulate their own values, and will reflect on how these values shape their ethical decisions.

Intercultural Understanding

College Understanding: Intercultural understanding is the ability to engage respectfully with others who are both different from, and similar to, ourselves. Striving toward intercultural understanding is essential to an individual’s effort to be an informed and active member of one’s communities.

Student Learning Outcome: Students will thoughtfully consider different beliefs, customs, practices, and social behaviors as they develop strategies for respectful and constructive engagement with others in order to come to a broad sense of being in the world.


College Understanding: Leadership is the capacity and willingness to take responsibility for and promote change within various communities, informed by careful reflection upon one’s goals and values, recognizing the important role that service to others plays in leadership.

Student Learning Outcome: Students will reflect upon philosophies of leadership, develop effective habits and practices of community empowerment, and work collaboratively to promote peace and justice.


College Understanding: Well-being is a choice to assume responsibility for the quality of one’s life across multiple dimensions: intellectual, emotional, spiritual, vocational, career, financial, relational, environmental, and physical. It begins with a conscious decision to shape a healthy lifestyle. We strive to provide students with the intellectual and practical tools they need to live productive and healthy lives.

Student Learning Outcome: Students will develop an awareness of multiple dimensions of well-being and the intellectual and practical skills necessary to make thoughtful decisions in all dimensions of well-being.