Excellence Socially Applied
Civic Learning Milestones
Establishing Progressive Milestones for Civic Learning
For each institution, it is strategically important to establish milestones for identified types of civic learning outcomes. Clearly, it takes time to shape the different forms of knowledge, values, leadership, and skills to become an active member of the community and contributor to democracy. Institutions that seek to graduate students with specific civic learning outcomes will increase their success rates by establishing milestones, or indicators of progress, along the undergraduate journey, as outlined in the examples below.
Our role in Campus Compact is to work with funders, partners and member institutions to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn about the responsibilities associated with their education and the truly valuable role they can each play as active citizens, regardless of background or privilege. One such outcome that all institutions, regardless of type, should feel resonance with is commitment to place.
So, can commitment to place be formed as knowledge is formed? To commit to an issue, place, or group, it is likely that an ethical sequencing of behaviors will maximize the formation of commitment to place. Not all students will commit to a neighboring community geographically bound to the campus, nor should they. Nonetheless, a clearly articulated sequence of behavioral milestones needs to be developed ahead of time so as so make allies and partners of students and community members, for example:
(to an issue, place, or group through teaching, literature, and discussion)
(to an issue, place, or group once thoughtfully prepared and oriented sufficiently)
(into an issue, place, or group, with peers and guided by faculty across multiple avenues of the undergraduate experience, to deliberate and build on strengths while mitigating challenges)
Models and Key Reports on Civic Learning Milestones, Outcomes, and Core Competencies
This section provides some examples found in national reports and at individual institutions of civic learning milestones and outcomes. In each case, the full reports or rubrics are available to read.
Civic Learning Outcomes at Tisch College, Tufts University
The Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University defines civic learning outcomes as the “the Knowledge, Skills and Values individuals need to be effective Active Citizens. An effective Active Citizens a person who understands the obligation and undertakes the responsibility to improve community conditions, build healthier communities and address social problems.”
The three categories – civic knowledge, skills, and values are developed throughout the undergraduate education. Knowledge outcomes are identified progressively through the domains of:
knowledge → comprehension → analysis → synthesis
How should we think of the skill of cultural competency through similarly progressive milestones, or the value of commitment? Put another way, what are the expressions of commitment that should be expected of the rising sophomore as compared to a junior or senior? At Tisch, they highlight three milestones to commitment:
(considers own values, motivations, and passions when working to create change in society)
(Builds and maintains interpersonal relationships in order to build democratic societies)
(Utilizes personal value system to create a just and democratic world)
Lumina Foundation Degree Qualification Profile
The Degree Qualification Profile, written by the Lumina Foundation , proposes outcomes for civic learning, irrespective of degree type, that are categorized by degree level as follows:
At the associate level, the student
- Describes his or her own civic and cultural background, including its origins and development, assumptions and predispositions.
- Describes diverse positions, historical and contemporary, on selected democratic values practices, and presents his or her own position on a specific problem where one or more of these values or practices are involved.
- Takes an active role in a community context (work, service, co-curricular activities, etc.), and examines the civic issues encountered and the insights gained from the community experience.
At the bachelor’s level, the student
- Explains diverse positions, including those of different cultural, economic and geographic interests, on a contested issue, and evaluates the issue in light of both those interests and evidence drawn from journalism and scholarship.
- Develops and justifies a position on a public issue and relates the position taken to alternative views within the community/policy environment.
- Collaborates with others in developing and implementing an approach to a civic issue, evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the process and, where applicable, the result.
Core Competencies Policy Paper from Merrimack College
The Center for Engaged Democracy at Merrimack College provided core competencies as student learning outcomes of civic engagement for academic programs. The reason, as stated by Dan Butin in the Preface, is that “academic programs provide a unique opportunity – much like any disciplinary program – to deeply, critically, and systematically investigate and teach and research and build upon what it means, in this particular case, to be an engaged citizen”.
Core civic competencies were categorized into the following:
- Civic Knowledge: Categories of civic knowledge, for example, are government, responsibility of citizenship such as human rights, diversity, and freedom of speech
- Civic Skills: Categories of civic skills, for example, are critical reasoning, democratic decision-making, consensus-building, policy formation, and leadership
- Civic Practice: Categories of civic practice, for example, are public work, community service, social organizing, and coalition building
- Civic Dispositions: Categories of civic dispositions, for example, are respect for human dignity and self-determination, stewardship of justice and equality, responsibility to a greater good.
AAC&U’s Civic Engagement VALUE Rubric
The AAC&U’s Civic Engagement VALUE Rubric provides four milestones for each of the following six indicators:
- Diversity of communities and cultures, building from milestone 1 to 4, as follows: Milestone 1 (benchmark): one-sided view, indifference to the value of diverse cultures, to Milestone 4 (capstone): Evolving attitude and advocating for diversity due to working within diverse cultures.
- Analysis of knowledge, building from milestone 1 to 4, as follows: Milestone 1 (benchmark): beginning to develop knowledge from one’s studies Milestone 4 (capstone): extends knowledge to one’s public work and engagement.
- Civic identity and commitment, building from milestone 1 to 4, as follows:Milestone 1 (benchmark): little evidence of experiences connected to identity Milestone 4 (capstone): experiences reinforce and clarify sense of civic identity and commitments.
- Civic communication, building from milestone 1 to 4, as follows: Milestone 1 (benchmark): can attend to one of the following – express, listen, or adapt to others perspectives Milestone 4 (capstone): fluidly expresses, listens and adapts to perspectives to establish relationships to further civic action.
- Civic action and reflection, building from milestone 1 to 4, as follows: Milestone 1 (benchmark): exposure in a reactive sense to civic engagement activities Milestone 4 (capstone): proactive engagement and reflection on aims and accomplishments.
- Civic contexts/structures, building from milestone 1 to 4, as follows: Milestone 1 (benchmark): basic level of experimentation in contexts Milestone 4 (capstone): committed to collaboration to achieve aims.
Excerpted with permission from Assessing Outcomes and Improving Achievement: Tips and tools for Using Rubrics, edited by Terrel L. Rhodes. Copyright 2010 by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
Wagner College Civic Engagement Co-curricular Competency Rubric
Wagner College’s Co-curricular Competency Program guides selected students with the help of coaching through the following experiences:
Students will engage in activities on and/or off-campus, separate from work done for a course:
- Students will assemble evidence and an essay in an e-portfolio
- Students will review and edit the e-portfolio with feedback from the coach
- Students will compose a 5-paged reflective essay called a “citizenship autobiography”
- Students will present the reflective essay and the e-portfolio to a panel that includes a student, an administrator, and a faculty member
The associated Wagner CE cocurricular competency rubric provides three milestones for each of the following four indicators:
- Diversity of communities and cultures, building from milestone 1 to 3, as follows: Milestone 1 (steps to competency): Little curiosity about democratic citizenship Milestone 3 (distinguished): Adjustments to beliefs due to experiencing democratic citizenship
- Analysis of civic knowledge, building from milestone 1 to 3, as follows: Milestone 1 (steps to competency): beginning to connect academics to civic participation Milestone 3 (distinguished): extends knowledge from academics to public life
- Civic communication, building from milestone 1 to 3, as follows:
Milestone 1 (steps to competency): can attend to one of the following – express, listen, or adapt to others perspectives Milestone 3 (distinguished): fluidly expresses, listens and adapts to perspectives to establish relationships to further civic action.
- Impact, building from milestone 1 to 3, as follows: Milestone 1 (steps to competency): involvement based on requirements rather than civic identity Milestone 3 (distinguished): shows initiative in team leadership, reflective insight and analysis into accomplishments.
- AAC&U. VALUE Rubric. Retrieved April 9, 2014, from http://www.aacu.org/value/rubrics/pdf/civicengagement.pdf
- Lumina Foundation (2011). Degree Qualification Profile. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://www.luminafoundation.org/publications/The_Degree_Qualifications_Profile.pdf
- Merrimack College Center for Engaged Democracy. Core Competencies in Civic Engagement. Retrieved April 9, 2014, from http://wagner.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/campus-life/files/2013/01/CE.pdf
- Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. Student Civic Learning Outcomes. Retrieved April 14, 2014, from http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/wp-content/uploads/learning_outcomes_13.pdf
- Wagner College. Civic Engagement Co-curricular Competency Rubric. Retrieved April 9, 2014, from http://wagner.edu/campus-life/cccp/