Principles of Undergraduate Learning

May 7, 1998 (Approved FC980507); Revised December 6, 2005; Revised March 2007; Approved May 1, 2007

Academic Affairs Committee recommends that the IUPUI Faculty Council adopt the following descriptions of the Principles of Undergraduate Learning. These descriptions include brief definitions and the general ways in which the principles can be demonstrated.

The Principles of Undergraduate Learning are the essential ingredients of the undergraduate educational experience at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. These principles form a conceptual framework for all students' general education but necessarily permeate the curriculum in the major field of study as well. More specific expectations for IUPUI's graduates are determined by the faculty in a student's major field of study. Together, these expectations speak to what graduates of IUPUI will know and what they will be able to do upon completion of their degree.

Core Communication and Quantitative Skills

[Definition:] The ability of students to express and interpret information, perform quantitative analysis, and use information resources and technology--the foundational skills necessary for all IUPUI students to succeed.

[Outcomes:] Core communication and quantitative skills are demonstrated by the student’s ability to

a.  express ideas and facts to others effectively in a variety of formats, particularly written, oral, and visual formats;

b.  comprehend, interpret, and analyze ideas and facts;

c.  communicate effectively in a range of settings;

d.  identify and propose solutions for problems using quantitative tools and reasoning;

e. make effective use of information resources and technology.

Critical Thinking

[Definition:] The ability of students to engage in a process of disciplined thinking that informs beliefs and actions. A student who demonstrates critical thinking applies the process of disciplined thinking by remaining open-minded, reconsidering previous beliefs and actions, and adjusting his or her thinking, beliefs and actions based on new information.


The process of critical thinking begins with the ability of students to remember and understand, but it is truly realized when the student demonstrates the ability to

  1. apply,
  2. analyze, 
  3. evaluate, and
  4. create

knowledge, procedures, processes, or products to discern bias, challenge assumptions, identify consequences, arrive at reasoned conclusions, generate and explore new questions, solve challenging and complex problems, and make informed decisions.

Integration and Application of Knowledge

[Definition:] The ability of students to use information and concepts from studies in multiple disciplines in their intellectual, professional, and community lives.

[Outcomes:] Integration and application of knowledge are demonstrated by the student’s ability to

a.  enhance their personal lives;

b.  meet professional standards and competencies;

c.  further the goals of society; and

d.  work across traditional course and disciplinary boundaries.

Intellectual Depth, Breadth, and Adaptiveness

[Definition:] The ability of students to examine and organize disciplinary ways of knowing and to apply them to specific issues and problems.

[Outcomes:] Intellectual depth, breadth, and adaptiveness are demonstrated by the student’s ability to

a. show substantial knowledge and understanding of at least one field of study;

b. compare and contrast approaches to knowledge in different disciplines;

c. modify one's approach to an issue or problem based on the contexts and requirements of particular situations.

Understanding Society and Culture

[Definition:] The ability of students to recognize their own cultural traditions and to understand and appreciate the diversity of the human experience.

[Outcomes:] Understanding society and culture is demonstrated by the student’s ability to

a. compare and contrast the range of diversity and universality in human history, societies, and ways of life;

b.  analyze and understand the interconnectedness of global and local communities; and

c.  operate with civility in a complex world.

Values and Ethics

[Definition:] The ability of students to make sound decisions with respect to individual conduct, citizenship, and aesthetics.

[Outcomes:] A sense of values and ethics is demonstrated by the student’s ability to

a.  make informed and principled choices and to foresee consequences of these choices;

b.  explore, understand, and cultivate an appreciation for beauty and art;

c.  understand ethical principles within diverse cultural, social, environmental and personal settings.

Implementation of the Principles of Undergraduate Learning

Implementation.  The faculty in each school is responsible for implementation of the Principles of Undergraduate Learning [PULs] in its programs, curricula and courses.  Students will typically be introduced to the PULs in First-Year Experience courses and Learning Communities, continue to develop PUL-related knowledge and skills in coursework, with demonstration of baccalaureate-level competencies expected in the capstone course/s or culminating experience/s students complete in the school.

Assessment.  The faculty in each school is responsible for establishing and implementing an assessment plan related to the Principles of Undergraduate Learning.  Schools report on the opportunities for and progress toward expected learning outcomes in general education [PULs] and in the major in the assessment template they prepare annually for the IUPUI Office for Planning and Institutional Improvement. An evaluation of general education will typically be part of the campus program review process.

Revisions.  Recommendations for revisions to the PULs will be directed to the Executive Committee of Indianapolis Faculty Council.  The Committee will work with the Office of Planning and Institutional Improvement and the Dean of Faculties to devise a process for considering revision recommendations.