Learning Goals

Common Learning Goals

Berea College affirmed common learning goals for students, faculty, and staff during its strategic planning process.  As indicated in the May 2011 version of Being and Becoming (pp.56-60), they are presented in pairs to express the positive relationships, and sometimes tensions, which exist between them in higher education.

1. We seek to develop mature and critical thinkers who also have the capacity for moral reflection, personal growth, and thoughtful action.

  • We seek to develop in ourselves and our students the intellectual ability to enjoy a life of learning and the arts as well as the capacity to address complex problems from multiple disciplines and perspectives.
  • We seek to develop in our students and ourselves the capacity for moral and spiritual development, and a commitment to service for the common or public good.

2. We seek to understand the interconnectedness of our natural, fabricated, and human worlds.

  • We seek to understand the workings of our natural environment and the consequences of human interventions.
  • We seek to reflect seriously upon the benefits and limitations of scientific and technological creations.

3. As citizens of a global world, we seek to develop an understanding of and appreciation for “all peoples of the earth” to promote peace and non-violence in the world.

  • We must first seek to comprehend our distinct backgrounds as well as our common American culture.
  • Because we live in an interdependent global community, we must actively seek to learn from cultures around the world.

 4. We seek to create an educational environment that develops the capacities of individuals while forging a caring campus community of mutual respect and collaboration.

  • We seek to educate our students and staff to be independent thinkers and doers.
  • We encourage all of our students and staff to understand the interdependence of all people and the need for collaboration and cooperation within a shared learning community.

As indicated in Being and Becoming, “These four pairs of learning goals remind us of the complexity of the learning process in its intellectual and personal, theoretical and applied, and individual and collaborative dimensions. Some of these goals may be better achieved by formal study while others may be best addressed in the labor or residential context. These goals will be effectively realized when all of the learning, labor, and service programs of the College incorporate them into their strategies. For example, interracial education can occur in the formal curriculum, in residential living, in intercollegiate athletics, in the labor context, and in service programs. Team learning can occur in the classroom, within labor assignments, within residence halls, or academic departments. Such integration of these goals within and across learning and working areas of the College is our aim.” (p. 60)

Aims of General Education and Core Competencies

Derived from the learning goals and the Great Commitments, the Aims listed below identify the common expectations for all students that can be met in a variety of ways, including curricula and co-curricular activities, residential life, convocations and labor.  Reflecting the Aims are five core competencies to measure student achievement.


The General Education Program will help students understand:

  1. aesthetic, scientific, historical, and interdisciplinary ways of knowing;
  2. religion, particularly Christianity, in its many expressions;
  3. Berea College’s historical and ongoing commitments to racial (traditionally black and white) and gender equality, as well as to the Appalachian region;
  4. the natural environment and our relationship to it;
  5. the roles of science and technology in the contemporary world;
  6. U.S. and global issues and perspectives.


The General Education Program will help students develop the abilities to:

  1. read and listen effectively; write and speak effectively, with integrity and style;
  2. think critically and creatively, and reason quantitatively;
  3. develop research strategies and employ appropriate technologies as means to deepen one’s knowledge and understanding;
  4. work effectively both independently and collaboratively;
  5. resolve conflicts nonviolently.

Habits of Mind

The General Education Program will help students:

  1. deepen their capacities for moral reflection, spiritual development, and responsible action;
  2. develop an openness to and knowledgeable appreciation of human diversity, in terms of race, gender, class, religion, sexuality, language, and culture;
  3. cultivate their imagination and ability to discern connections, consider alternatives, and think about topics and issues from multiple perspectives;
  4. think and act in ways that promote peace with justice;
  5. develop habits leading to lifetime health and fitness.

Learning Experiences

The above Aims of General Education will be achieved through a combination of learning experiences designed to help students become independent learners and thinkers.  Such learning experiences are likely to include:

  1. discussion and lecture;
  2. student-initiated learning;
  3. experiential learning (for example, service-learning, travel, internships, etc.);
  4. collaborative learning.

Core Competencies

To determine the extent to which students have attained the Aims of General Education, Berea College will regularly assess student achievement in five areas: critical thinking; communication; research and information literacy; quantitative literacy; and intercultural competence. Below are the Student Learning Outcomes for the Core Competencies, which were approved by the Committee on General Education on April 26, 2021.

  1. Critical Thinking
    Students will use sound reasoning and strong evidence when drawing conclusions or constructing arguments.
  2. Communication
    Students will express, develop, and support ideas with awareness of purpose and context.
  3. Research and Information Literacy
    Students will locate, evaluate, and accurately cite sources that are appropriate to the goals of their research.
  4. Quantitative Literacy
    Students will accurately interpret quantitative information and incorporate relevant quantitative evidence in their work.
  5. Intercultural Competence
    Students will accurately and respectfully express or relate the complex interplay of history and experiences that shape the values of diverse communities.