Jul 25, 2024  
2017-2018 General/Graduate Catalog - Expires August 2023 
2017-2018 General/Graduate Catalog - Expires August 2023 [Archived Catalog]

Liberal Studies Program

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The faculty of Truman State University has identified specific student learning outcomes for each area of the Liberal Studies Program (LSP). Learning outcomes are the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that students should exhibit after they have completed each area of the LSP. Every course that fulfills an LSP requirement has been judged by the faculty to meet the appropriate learning outcomes.

Essential Skills


Freshman Writing: Writing as Critical Thinking

(Approved March 30, 2006)
Students who successfully complete Writing as Critical Thinking understand and appreciate the central role writing and critical thinking play in becoming an active student of the liberal arts. Critical thinkers are able to apply clearly articulated criteria when examining and analyzing texts, ideas, and events; recognize the limits of their understanding and knowledge; rethink their ideas and values as they discover new information; enthusiastically seek out a range of views on the subjects that concern them; listen skillfully to the ideas of others; and recognize that critical thinking requires a lifelong commitment to self-reflection.

In Writing as Critical Thinking, students are asked to develop these and similar attitudes by writing. In fulfilling these requirements, students: 

  1. use critical thinking to analyze readings as well as other forms of media (such as photographs, sound recordings, or film);
  2. recognize and emulate the writing process of experienced writers;
  3. meet the needs of readers with varied expectations and backgrounds by using appropriate style and mechanics;
  4. use critical thinking, critical reading, reflection, and discussion to compose engaging, well-organized writing;
  5. revise their writing using instructor and peer response as well as self-assessment;
  6. make progress towards computer literacy; and
  7. understand the importance of intellectual and academic honesty, including accurate, critical, and clear quotation and citation of the work of others.


(Approved March 30, 2006)
A liberally educated person is intellectually and practically engaged in academic, professional and civic communities. Ethical and effective public speaking enables that engagement. Public speaking draws on rhetorical and other communication theory to illuminate the personal responsibility of each citizen speaker, particularly the call to civility through reason. Individual response to that call determines the character of democracy as a collective action. 

The conscious acceptance of personal responsibility for public speaking is intertwined with a deep understanding of the purposes, structures and delivery of spoken messages. Students investigate the classical modes of proof – ethos, pathos, and logos – to develop the ability to construct eloquent messages and defensible arguments that respond to the needs of their communities. Students practice conscious, critical, and respectful listening to gain an appreciation for diverse points of view. Students critique their own speaking performances and those of others to achieve confidence in and mastery over delivery skills. 

To prepare students for civic engagement, the public speaking essential skills requirement accomplishes the following objectives: 

  1. Students enact ethical public discourse and accept ethical responsibility in producing and consuming public discourse.
  2. Students understand and perform the audience-centered approach of the speech making process including selecting topics, organizing speeches, using persuasive appeals and using supporting materials effectively.
  3. Students develop critical thinking skills, including the process of listening as receiving, constructing meaning from and responding to public messages.

Elementary Functions

(Approved May 9, 1997)
Mathematical functions are used to model phenomena in the world around us, to make forecasts, and when graphed, to summarize information in a meaningful way. The elementary functions (consisting of the algebraic, exponential, and trigonometric functions) are important not only because they show up so often in mathematics courses, but because they are the functions which appear most often in applications in other fields. Algebraic functions can model the movement of a projectile or describe the change in the inflation rate. Exponential functions capture both the rapid rise of populations and the slow decay of radioactive material. Finally, trigonometric functions not only aid in solving problems involving geometry, but are essential to modeling oscillating phenomena, such as the pulse of a heart or the changes in air pressure formed by playing a note on the piano. A student who has passed the Elementary Functions requirement should be prepared for the Mathematical Mode of Inquiry requirement, the Statistics requirement, and other courses involving mathematical reasoning.

Upon completion of the Elementary Functions requirement, students:

  1. have gained experience with mathematical reasoning in a variety of applications that demonstrate the prevalence of mathematics in the world around us;
  2. understand the fundamental concept of a function;
  3. understand how to use and apply algebraic, exponential, and trigonometric functions;
  4. have developed their basic skills in algebra; and
  5. are prepared for more advanced mathematics courses, in particular calculus.


(Approved March 30, 2006)
A liberally educated person is capable of being both a producer and a consumer of statistical information with some basic level of competency. He or she should be able to perform basic statistical analysis (producer) and should understand statistical information and data (consumer). As a result, the goals for the essential skill requirement in statistics are twofold: students are to develop statistical thinking, which leads to statistical literacy. The American Statistical Association endorsed the Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education Project, which makes six recommendations concerning the introductory statistics course: (1) Emphasize statistical literacy and develop statistical thinking; (2) Use real data; (3) Stress conceptual understanding rather than mere knowledge of procedures; (4) Foster active learning in the classroom; (5) Use technology for developing conceptual understanding and analyzing data; and (6) Use assessments to improve and evaluate student learning. The statistics essential skill should reflect these recommendations with a solid introduction to the basic principles of statistical practice, which, in turn, adequately prepares students for further study in statistical applications or for wise use of data in work and everyday life. 

Upon completion of the Statistics requirement, students:

  1. recognize the overall importance and broad application of statistics from its use in research to its use in everyday life;
  2. understand the techniques of random sampling and the production of “good” data;
  3. are able to use basic descriptive statistics and exploratory data analysis (EDA) to select appropriate statistics for both univariate (one variable) and bivariate (two variable) data on qualitative and quantitative scales;
  4. understand distributional characteristics of variables measured on quantitative scales including shape, central tendency, variability, and percentiles;
  5. understand the basic concepts of events, spaces, and the rules of probability;
  6. understand the basic theory behind the three main areas of inferential statistics: Point estimation, confidence intervals, and tests of hypotheses;
  7. are able to use inferential statistics on a variable measured on one or two samples, including: selection of procedures, verification of assumptions, application of procedures, and interpretation of results; and
  8. are able to use a statistical package for the creation of graphs and descriptive statistics which allow for the meaningful interpretation of data.

Computer Literacy

(Approved May 9, 1997)
The computer literacy requirement identifies skills relevant to a broad range of disciplines. So that professors can expect students to make use of these throughout their academic career, all students should acquire proficiency by the beginning of their second year.

Three features of computer proficiency necessitate frequent re-evaluation of this requirement, perhaps as often as each year. First, students continue to arrive on campus each year with an increasing degree of computer experience. Second, computer software and technology continues to evolve; and third, the expectations of student capabilities must keep pace with this evolution. Reassessing these outcomes also requires ongoing contact with the faculty concerning the appropriateness of the specific requirements and the competency of students who have completed them.

Computer literacy entails understanding and knowledge of computer usage for processing and communicating information. Information comes in many forms, including text, numbers, pictures, and sound. Computer literate individuals should, therefore, be able to retrieve, organize, analyze, describe, and present various types of information in an appropriate manner. They should understand the relationships between computers and society, including legal and ethical issues related to software use, copyright, plagiarism, and privacy.

Students are able to:

  1. use a computer to create a document in an appropriate format;
  2. retrieve and cite information from the World Wide Web;
  3. utilize electronic means of communication;
  4. retrieve information from a bibliographic database;
  5. organize, manipulate, and present numeric data in a document;
  6. save, retrieve, copy, print, and delete files; and
  7. recognize unethical use of technology including copyright and privacy issues.

Personal Well-Being

(Approved April 28, 2005)
Health Knowledge Outcomes:

  1. Relate the components of the physical dimension of health to a health enhancing lifestyle: Explain how physical fitness, diet, sexual behavior, substance abuse, etc. affect physical health as evaluated by written tests, projects, or portfolios.
  2. Recognize the importance of engaging in creative and stimulating mental activities in and outside the classroom to promote lifelong intellectual growth as evaluated by written tests, projects, or portfolios.
  3. Describe the components of emotional health: personal feelings and feelings of others, the normality of human emotion, personal abilities and limitations, controlling or coping with personal feelings, and how to seek support when necessary as evaluated by written tests, projects, or portfolios.
  4. Appreciate the significance of getting along with others, showing concern for humanity as a whole, and accepting the uniqueness of others as an essential part of social health as evaluated by a Likert or value scale.
  5. Reflect on the spiritual dimension of health which requires examination of life experiences to discover personal meaning and purpose in life as evaluated by a reflection project.
  6. Explain how our reciprocal interaction with the environment affects our health as evaluated by written tests, projects, or portfolios.

These objectives have been adapted from Robbins, G., Powers, D., & Burgess, S. (1999). A Wellness Way of Life (4th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill. 

Students should experience physical activities that are classified as lifetime activities when attempting to accomplish the outcomes indicated below.

Physical Activity Outcomes:

  1. Participate in activities that affect and improve cardiovascular endurance as evaluated by an exercise log.
  2. Perform activities that promote muscular strength and/or muscular endurance as evaluated by demonstration and an exercise log.
  3. Demonstrate proper technique in a variety of stretches as evaluated by demonstration. 

Modes of Inquiry


Qualitative Modes:

Aesthetic - Visual and Performing Arts

(Approved December 13, 2012)
Students who successfully complete the Aesthetic Mode of Inquiry - Visual and Performing Arts demonstrate in their coursework (for example, through writing, creative work, observations, questions, projects, and/or discussions) a minimum of three of the following outcomes:

  • an understanding of specialized vocabularies and symbols relative to the field of study;
  • an ability to analyze structures and relationships inherent to a given artistic creation (formalism), including the possibility to do so through the completion of a creative work of their own;
  • an ability to respond or react to a given artistic creation using a range of tools that include: aesthetic sensitivity, personal experience, understanding of social context, and recognition of a variety of cultural/historical references (referentialism);
  • knowledge of a significant number of representative works in a chosen area (or areas) of creative production;
  • thought processes, such as analytical, aesthetic and creative processes, that make connections between isolated components and the complete whole; and
  • the ability to think critically in response to and as a result of participation in the mode.

Aesthetic - Literature

(Approved May 9, 1997)
Students who successfully complete the Aesthetic Mode of Inquiry – Literature develop:

  1. the ability to interpret a text by drawing on some of the following techniques: close, active, reflective reading; past experiences; primary and secondary sources; other critical approaches; and
  2. the ability to analyze the structural elements and relationships within a text or between various literary genres in order to explain how authors create responses in readers.

In addition, students who successfully complete this Mode of Inquiry show some of the following features in their writing, observations, questions, and discussions:

  1. familiarity with a significant number of influential and representative works OR familiarity with a significant number of works of an influential author(s);
  2. understanding of the diversity of human experience and creative expression presented in literature;
  3. situating works into historical, cultural, or intellectual contexts OR seeing literature’s connections to other disciplines OR seeing how other disciplines can inform the reading of literature;
  4. analyzing the values in the literature read; and
  5. recognizing how our own culturally and experientially derived assumptions shape our reading of a literary text.


(Approved May 13, 2005)
In the Historical Mode of Inquiry, students study a broad topic or major geographic area over an extended period of time and demonstrate competence in one or more of the following areas, which characterize the work of historians:

  1. Thinking in terms of causation, change over time, contingency, context, and chronological frameworks;
  2. Drawing upon and synthesizing the content and methodologies of humanistic and social-scientific disciplines to study and interpret the past;
  3. Analyzing the interplay between choices individuals have made and developments societies have undergone; and,
  4. Understanding the social and aesthetic richness of different cultures.

Philosophical and Religious

(Approved May 9, 1997)
Any given Mode of Inquiry course in philosophy and religion achieves many, but not necessarily all, of the following outcomes. Upon completion of the Philosophical and Religious Mode of Inquiry, students:

  1. Have reflectively engaged foundational epistemological or methodological issues;
  2. Have employed one or more of the methods of philosophy and religious studies, for example: a) conceptual, linguistic, and logical analysis, or b) philosophical reflection on other disciplines, institutions, and practices, such as natural science, social science, mathematics, law, religion, or the arts, or c) close interpretation of philosophical texts or of diverse elements of religious practice and experience, or d) investigation of how the study of religion is informed by other disciplines in the humanities or social sciences, or e) historical investigation of the development of philosophical perspectives or religious traditions, or f) interpretation and critical evaluation of ethical and political issues and practices;
  3. Have studied materials appropriate to those methods, for example: primary historical texts and figures, contemporary scholarly arguments, proofs, scriptures, religious myths and practices, social practices, or literary texts with philosophical or religious merit;
  4. Have produced their own work consistent in form with one or more of the methods of philosophy and religious studies at a challenging undergraduate level;
  5. Have honed skills common to all intellectual activity but given particular attention by scholars of philosophy and religion: oral and written acuity, critical but faithful reading, argument analysis and evaluation, thesis development and defense;
  6. Have investigated philosophical and religious phenomena in relation to worldviews: comprehensive perspectives or ways of apprehending the world and valuing and acting, both historical and contemporary;
  7. Be able to balance and discriminate between insider and outsider, empathetic and critical views of philosophy and religion, with attention to ethical and cultural sensitivity and tolerance.

Quantitative Modes:


(Approved October 23, 1997)
Few would deny the central role of mathematics in modern society. It is now commonplace to find uses of algebra, calculus, logic and probability throughout the natural and social sciences and in areas as diverse as archeology, linguistics, music, and zoology. Throughout thousands of years and across a variety of cultures, mathematical thought has proved an important force in the intellectual development of humankind. Familiarity with the mathematical mode of inquiry is therefore imperative in a liberal arts education.

The Mathematical Mode of Inquiry requires the ability to abstract from the particular to the general. Central to its adaptability is the role of modeling, the process of abstracting and translating a physical or natural phenomenon into mathematical symbols and relations. Whereas the scientific modes of inquiry are often concerned with validity and refinement of a particular model, the Mathematical Mode of Inquiry typically focuses on broadening and generalizing that model. For instance, the concept of derivative – the central idea of calculus – arose from problems involving the motion of projectiles and celestial bodies. Its scope of applicability now extends to virtually every facet of modern science. The exploration of disparate questions in order to find patterns and a unifying commonality is a hallmark of mathematical investigation.

The Mathematical Mode of Inquiry builds from clearly stated assumptions and arrives at systematic conclusions through a process of rigorous logic. Mathematics offers a concise, elegant, and universal language which can be used in all those disciplines which seek a precision of expression beyond the merely descriptive and qualitative. The great scientist Galileo once said that “[The Universe] cannot be read until we have learnt the language…in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language.”

Mathematics may be viewed as an essential tool for the development of numerous applied disciplines or as affording aesthetic satisfaction in its own right. In addition, the mathematical mode of inquiry demands a precision of thinking which is an excellent medium for developing the facets of critical reasoning that are central to a liberal education.

Upon completion of the Mathematical Mode of Inquiry, students:

  1. Are able to study assumptions critically, reason logically, and arrive at mathematically sound conclusions;
  2. Have an understanding of the role mathematics has played throughout history and how it has been used to illuminate important questions in a variety of disciplines;
  3. Are able to translate problems in physical and social environments into mathematical language, to reason mathematically about the problems, and to interpret the results of their reasoning;
  4. Understand how mathematics develops by abstracting from specific contexts a general theory which has applications in many different settings; and,
  5. Have had an in-depth exposure to a branch of mathematics, such as calculus, which builds upon the skills learned to fulfill the Essential Skills requirement in Mathematics.

Scientific - Life Science

(Approved May 13, 2005)
Upon completion of the Life Science Mode of Inquiry, students:

  1. Have engaged in scientific experimentation, including the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, and aspects of experimental design;
  2. Understand how scientific theories are evaluated and applied;
  3. Understand that science is a human endeavor, influenced by both historical and technological context;
  4. Understand the unifying principles common to all organisms, and recognize ways in which the mechanisms of evolution or human-driven selection have influenced the diversity and complexity of the natural world; and,
  5. Recognize some of the issues in the life sciences that influence society, and have acquired familiarity with some of the technical language and basic theories of science that inform personal and public decision making.

Scientific - Physical Science

(Approved May 13, 2005)
Upon completion of the Physical Science Mode of Inquiry, students:

  1. Have engaged in scientific experimentation, including the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data;
  2. Understand how scientific theories are evaluated and applied;
  3. Have learned and used symbolic language, made quantitative measurements, and applied the tools of mathematics to interpret these measurements and to solve quantitative problems; and,
  4. Recognize some of the issues in the physical sciences that influence society, and have acquired familiarity with some of the technical language and basic theories of science that inform personal and public decision making.

Social Scientific

(Approved May 13, 2005)
The Social Scientific Mode of Inquiry is designed to facilitate the ability to make more informed decisions about social issues, thus advancing the goal of citizenship and leadership in its broadest meaning in the context of families, groups, communities, societies, and/or the global system in general. Students demonstrate competence in the following areas:

  1. Thinking systematically about humans, societies, and/or organizations, and their interactions;
  2. Applying critical thinking skills and analytical capabilities in the social sciences;
  3. Understanding major generalizations, discoveries, principles, concepts, methodologies, technical language, and theories in at least one of the social science disciplines (Psychology, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Economics, and Geography);
  4. Understanding what constitutes evidence in the social sciences and how social scientists utilize empirical observations for drawing inferences and conclusions; and,
  5. Connecting ideas in the social sciences to real world applications, and to the context of their historical development. 

Interconnecting Perspectives


Writing-Enhanced Courses

(Approved May 9, 1997)
The projected outcomes of students’ skills, habits, and attitudes, while distinguishable, are not separable; they blend together to produce the ability to write well and think critically. Cognition, writing process, and the written product interact and mutually reinforce one another. As a result of Writing-Enhanced Courses, students:


  1. use writing as a mode of learning as well as a method of communicating what was learned;
  2. are able to generate, organize, and communicate information and ideas fully, clearly, and cogently;
  3. exhibit critical thinking such as the ability to analyze, synthesize, evaluate, and reflect;
  4. show audience awareness;
  5. appreciate the importance of good writing in their personal and professional lives;


  1. engage in deep revision, closely examining and further developing the reasoning in the writing;
  2. assess their own writing to uncover strengths and concerns, and are able to generate strategies for improvement;
  3. solicit external critiques of their writing to guide revision;
  4. as a regular habit of their writing process, copy-edit their own work for mechanics, style, and coherence;


  1. are able to write clear, coherent, and well organized prose for a targeted audience;
  2. demonstrate a command of syntax, style, and tone appropriate to the task; and
  3. exhibit mastery of punctuation, usage, and formatting conventions.

Junior Interdisciplinary Seminar

(Approved October 23, 1997)
“Education must prepare one for life in a complex world in which critical ideas, issues, and decisions require more than a single mode of inquiry or knowledge base. Increasingly, educated citizens must simultaneously apply a range of understandings, skills, and attitudes. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of a lifelong learner is the ability to draw upon the diversity of one’s education in addressing new situations” (Liberal Studies Program Proposal, 7).

Interdisciplinary study should offer a model of how connections can be made. It should expose students to multiple ways of thinking about issues, problems, and concepts. It should enable the simultaneous use of multiple modes of inquiry and demonstrate that their source of power is synergistic rather than additive. It should help students construct their own mental frameworks of retrievable knowledge. And it should make possible an evaluation of competing and complementary ways of knowing.

Upon completion of the Interdisciplinary, Writing-Enhanced Junior Seminar, students have engaged:

  1. intersections or tensions between two or more academic disciplines with respect to applied methods or tools of inquiry; or
  2. investigation of ways in which a given topic or concept may be understood and questioned by two or more different disciplines within a larger civic, cultural, or professional context; or
  3. consideration of a problem in the student’s “home” or major discipline via the lens of another discipline’s perspectives;

and have demonstrated:

  1. knowledge of, and reflection on, how advanced-level content from two or more disciplines interacts; and
  2. integrated analysis and reflection informed by approaches or methods from two or more disciplines.


(Approved March 30, 2006)
An intercultural perspective is more than the observation of cultural differences or a celebration of “exotic” food and clothing styles. Rather, a meaningful intercultural perspective arises from direct experiences with cultural diversity and cultural interactions. In a rapidly changing world, understanding cultural differences is important in fostering a perspective of global concern and acceptance of a range of cultural responses. We learn to thrive in diverse work and living environments. Our lives are enriched by the presence of diverse people and ideas. We become aware of the political and social significance of cultural differences. The exchange of ideas becomes multifaceted and complex when two or more cultural perspectives are engaged. A student who has successfully completed the intercultural perspective should be prepared to approach intercultural interactions with awareness and attentiveness. 

Coursework and study abroad experiences can foster a student’s intercultural perspective, as can service learning, internships, and other intensive experiences designed to create an environment for intercultural interaction. 

Students completing the Intercultural Perspective requirement:

  1. have a greater knowledge and appreciation of cultural diversity through the study of other cultures, as well as their own.
  2. are critical and self-reflective, developing an understanding of how culture influences behavior, and in turn, how cultural differences impact intercultural interactions.
  3. have an awareness of the political and social aspects of culture and cultural diversity, and an awareness that intercultural consideration allows one to transcend (but not erase) cultural and ethnic differences.

Foreign Language

(Approved March 30, 2006)
The study of a foreign language opens the door to a new world of understanding of people, customs, literature, history and information, and is, therefore, a crucial element of the liberal arts. The ability to use a foreign language and to understand the culture of its speakers serves students well as they confront a world increasingly aware of its interdependency. 

Students who complete the Liberal Studies Program foreign language requirement:           

  1. achieve a command of certain basic grammatical structures,
  2. establish a minimal working vocabulary,
  3. develop initial pronunciation skills,
  4. acquire limited listening and conversational skills,
  5. develop the ability to read basic texts and to write simple sentences,
  6. become familiar with some key aspects of the culture associated with the language,
  7. grow in their understanding of English through comparison with another language, and
  8. are both well prepared and motivated to continue foreign language study. Such study might include more advanced coursework in language, literature or culture; study of additional languages; study-abroad experiences, including internships; travel; or employment involving the languages and cultures studied.

Truman Program

(Approved October 23, 1997)
Each extended freshman course begins with an intensive Truman Week Experience which provides a supportive environment for the student’s academic and social transition to Truman.

By midterm of the first semester at Truman State University, each student:

  1. understands the level of work expected of a Truman student. The student has gained confidence and experience in how to achieve excellence in what one undertakes.
  2. knows campus procedures, campus facilities and services available to them (registration, advising, add/drop, portfolio, library, counseling, study skills, Writing Center, tutors, time management).
  3. is encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities.
  4. attends at least one cultural event.

By the end of the first semester, each student should:

  1. know and practice study and time management skills necessary to succeed in classes at Truman.
  2. know a group of peers who can support each other through academic and social situations.
  3. develop a sense of belonging within the Truman community and has established appropriate mentoring relationships with the faculty member such that the student is comfortable discussing career and educational topics beyond class-related material.
  4. have increased understanding and appreciation of the characteristics of a liberal arts and sciences education.
  5. have increased familiarity with why and how the University assesses student learning.
  6. have been given opportunities to develop his or her writing, speaking, and thinking skills.

Click here to see the Liberal Studies Program for Program Requirements .