Trinity Western University

2013 News

Student Learning Outcomes describe the value of a Trinity Western education

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Trinity Western University has a 51-year history of education with an emphasis on leadership, global engagement, and Christ-centred values. For the first time those characteristics have been articulated and agreed upon in a formal statement of Student Learning Outcomes (SLO).

The document is the culmination of a three-year venture in response to the BC Ministry of Advanced Education’s movement towards using such outcomes in their formal program reviews with all BC universities. It was developed with input from across campus—from faculty, staff, alumni, and students—and was unanimously passed by the TWU Senate on November 6, 2012.

Though never previously spelled out in this way, these six outcomes have been central to a TWU education since its early days. Student Life has maintained a program of learning outcomes since 1999. Nursing professor Sonya Grypma, RN, Ph.D., the current chair of the University Senate, explained: “We’ve tried to capture something we already see going on. We’re just putting a name to what’s unique about TWU.”

While some of the Learning Outcomes could be listed by any of TWU’s peers: “knowledge and its application,” “cognitive complexity” and “leadership”, TWU’s focus on “inter- and intra-personal wellness,” "social responsibility and global engagement," and  “spiritual formation,” are TWU distinctions. Furthermore, TWU's approach is unique in that it infuses thoughtful Christian perspectives and values throughout the six Learning Outcomes.

TWU’s institutional outcomes reflect, “the rare understanding that a university education is to prepare you for a life, not just of learning but also of service,” said Grypma. TWU is unique, she explained, in that professors have a shared calling to help students respond to the human condition with wisdom, humility and charity. They do so by encouraging a fuller understanding of God, setting a spiritual foundation and encouraging the embodiment of Christ-like ways.

The Senate’s work articulates Student Outcomes that give faculty clear program and curricular priorities that are a common thread between every course and every department on campus. It gives students clear results they can measure, and incoming students a way to anticipate their experience of a TWU education.

Student Association Vice President Colin Weeres represented the student body on the Curriculum Subcommittee. As an incoming student, he didn’t know there were a set of outcomes he was meant to embody at graduation but, he said, “I walked around campus, and it was inherent—you can sense certain values, like whole-person learning and the importance of leadership.”

In his four years at TWU, he says those values have been inseparable from his student experience. They were modeled daily by professors who have students to their homes for meals or who professionally practice what they are teaching in the classroom. “My professors go above and beyond what’s required,” he said.

It’s this commitment that, Grypma believes, earns TWU consistent top grades in The Globe & Mail and Maclean’s university rankings—commitment that goes beyond the classroom and permeates every aspect of student life. “For example,” she said, “volunteerism may not show up in the classroom, but it’s absolutely central to the TWU experience.” In fact, a recent survey revealed 57 per cent of the TWU student body are involved in some kind of volunteerism— including local and global projects, fall work days, and wellness clinics.

It’s no surprise then that a significant number of graduates take on roles that focus on social justice and helping the marginalized—locally and globally—carrying these learning outcomes into their personal and professional lives.

According to Weeres, that is precisely the value of a Trinity Western education: “Those outcomes are exactly what I’m paying for—so in a sense, they mean everything.”

Read the full Student Learning Outcomes statement.

To see these learning outcomes in action, visit TWU Undergraduate Admissions.

  • Last Updated on February 13th, 2013 at 1:55pm
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