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Learning Objectives - Colleen McLinn

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These learning objectives are for a non-majors Biology of Birds course being offered as a general education science credit.

An important component of the course (~1/3 of grade) will be an independent project relating to "Birds and Society", which can be creative in nature but must incorporate a scientific component. The following learning objectives relate to this unit of the larger semester-long course. We will assess student learning outcomes using Dee Fink's taxonomy of significant learning (particularly Integration and Application).

Learning Goal:

Students will demonstrate an appreciation for the relevance of science to society by identifying a topic of personal interest through which they creatively explore the theme "Birds and Society." (Integration)

Learning Objectives:

A successful project will meet or exceed expectations on the following rubric criteria during summative assessment:

  • Applying foundational knowledge about birds, scientific principles and/or the scientific method (Application, Foundational Knowledge)
  • Explicitly relating course ideas to everyday life (Integration, Application)
  • Providing rationale or coherent argument for topic choice (from personal relevance, societal importance, etc.) (Caring, Integration)
  • Explicitly reflecting on their topic choice and research process (Learning How to Learn, Human Dimensions)
  • Evaluating or synthesizing existing ideas, arguments, or images relating to science (Skills, Foundational Knowledge)
  • Creatively designing an end product (Skills - creative thinking)
  • Effectively communicating a message or findings (via graphs, rhetoric, images) (Integration, Skills, Application)


Although projects are conducted independently, an important part of the process is giving and receiving formative feedback through a preliminary proposal to your peers. This also has specific learning objectives:

  • Constructively providing feedback to peers (Skills, Human Dimensions)



Peer Feedback

Independent Project Rubric



  • Pick a level, type, taxonomy
  • Select an action word (performance to be demonstrated)
  • Determine a statement that reflects what learning will be demonstrated
  • Include criteria for acceptable performance. What does success look like? What levels of success are there?




Re #3: Topic selection should have happened by now already - assume they selected properly.

  • explaining topic choice (why it's important, putting arguments in an original context)
  • defending relevance with explicit evidence

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