Accrediting associations, college boards of trustees, administrators, faculty, and employers expect college graduates to be more than a collection of grades. They expect a college graduate not only to know how to make a solid decision, but to understand the ethics or the human impact of that decision. In a world that relies more on electronic communication media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, texting, and email, these groups expect a college graduate to write well and logically. Finally, these groups expect a college graduate to participate in the social, technical, economic, environmental, and political arenas of our world. General education courses are designed to develop these abilities.
General Education courses prepare you to:
Some of these skills are taught in specific classes while other skills are taught across a variety of classes. Regardless of how these concepts are presented to you, when you complete your degree at ICC, you will be competent in all seven areas.
Let’s take a closer look at each.
Reading and thinking critically means you question what you read and how you think. As a critical thinker and reader, you’ll have a process or plan as you read and think about concepts, ideas, positions, data, and news. You’ll look for bias or hidden meanings in material. You’ll also recognize the context or background and opinions of the author of material you’re reading or that’s being presented to you.
Communicating effectively means you know what to do to make sure people understand you. That means you know how to write and speak in a manner that’s acceptable to your audience. You’ll also be aware of what things might affect your message. For example, you might have to change the volume of your voice depending on the hearing ability of your audience, or you might have to use simpler language when talking with small children. Communicating effectively means matching your message and delivery method to the needs of your audience. It also means being able to write and speak in a formal manner when necessary to establish your credibility as an educated person.
Demonstrating mathematical and scientific reasoning means you’ve learned the basics of math and science. Mathematical reasoning means you understand how adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing work AND you understand more complicated math concepts found in algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics and so on. In other words, you “get” how math works so you can find solutions to practical problems in everyday life based in math. This could be as simple as balancing your checkbook or as complex as calculating tensile strength of a metal. If you know how to employ scientific reasoning, you know the steps of the scientific method and what steps you take to research a problem or discover something new in science.
Demonstrating an awareness of the diversity of cultures, ethics, values, or aesthetics means you recognize that people from different walks of life express themselves differently in what they think is right and wrong, how they make decisions, what’s important to them, and how they create artistic beauty. Understanding diversity also means you can see how different ideas from different people can work together to make a better, richer world. When you are aware of diversity, you seek first to understand differences before making judgments. You also keep an open mind!
Demonstrating the ability to be creative and innovative in solving problems means finding new, different, or multiple solutions. Creative problem-solving usually means developing an answer to a problem that no one else has thought of before or finding more than one answer to it. Innovation usually involves taking an old idea and creating a new way to use that idea. Either way, this requirement challenges you to use your imagination to discover new ways to solve problems, communicate new ideas, or express yourself artistically.
Working independently and collaboratively means you take responsibility for completing tasks both as an individual and as a team member. You understand deadlines and pay attention to the details of your work. When you work with others, you appreciate the diversity of skills and talents in the team and employ these skills to create outstanding work. You recognize that building an effective team requires effort from all members of the team and that sometimes teams have to work through disagreements and problems to become effective.
Demonstrating computer literacy and information literacy means you know how to use common types of computer programs such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, and messaging software. It also means you know how to judge whether things you find on the Internet (or other digital media) are accurate, reliable, timely, and unbiased. Basically, this requirement assures that you know how to use the software found on computers, cell phones, and tablets, and that you don’t get duped by stuff you find on the web.