Activities - General Education Requirements @ UW-Madison

Promoting Essential Learning at UW-Madison (and beyond)

Let us know about your LEAP-related activities!

We know that many people at all levels across the UW-Madison campus engage in activities that promote the goals of liberal education. We're always interested in hearing what you do. Please send information to, or contact one of the UW-Madison LEAP liaisons.


April 2010, How do We Assess LEAP's Student Learning Outcomes?


Assistant Provost Mo Noonan Bischof, Associate Dean Nancy Westphal-Johnson, and Assistant Dean Elaine Klein presented this question to a standing-room only room of UW-System faculty and staff attending the 2010 UW-System President's Summit on Excellence in Teaching and Learning. (April 29-May 1, 2010)

March and May 2010, Essential Learning in Ethnic Studies Courses

The Ethnic Studies Subcommittee of the University General Committee invited faculty and staff who have taught courses designated as meeting the Ethnic Studies Requirement to participate in a discussion of "Essential Learning" in those courses, and good practices used to achieve them. Dean Gary Sandefur (Dean of the College of Letters and Science), Associate Vice Provost Aaron Brower, and Professor Louise Mares asked the questions that provoked extensive conversations (and many pages of notes) about what these teachers hope students learn in these courses and how that learning transcends the content of any particular course. A follow-up discussion focused on the analysis of those conversations is schedule to be held in May, as part of the Teaching and Learning Symposium.

March and April 2009, Conversations About Essential Learning

Following up on the March 2008 intensive discussions about the Wisconsin Experience and Essential Learning Outcomes, Associate Vice Provost Aaron Brower is hosting a series of conversations about Essential Learning to learn about what instructors are doing differently as a result of last year's discussions.

February 2009, Revision of Undergraduate General Education Requirement Statements

In February 2009, the University General Education Committee approved revisions to the 2009-2011 Undergraduate Catalog text to more clearly convey the purpose of these requirements by connecting them to the learning goals expressed as "Essential Learning" in the Wisconsin Experience. Although completion of these requirements does not encompass the full breadth and texture of the Wisconsin Experience, they do provide an important alignment with (and tools for achieving) the aspirations expressed in that document.

January 2009, "How Do We Assess the Essential Learning Outcomes?" Presentation at the AAC&U Annual Conference


In January 2009, Assistant Provost Mo Noonan Bischof, Associate Dean Nancy Westphal-Johnson, and Assistant Dean Elaine Klein gave a standing-room only presentation on assessment and essential learning at the Association of American Colleges and Universities annual conference, "Ready of Not: Global Challenges, College Learning, and America's Promise." (Jan 21-24, 2009)

Have YOU seen the 2009-2010 UW-Madison Viewbook?

We're letting prospective students and their parents know: What you do at Wisconsin Matters.

Summer 2008, "Information Literacy: An Essential Learning Outcome"

The Library and Information Literacy Instruction Program has articulated the abilities needed to find information and use it effetcively. The detailed description of this essential learning outcome can be found online at

2008 Teaching and Learning Symposium (May 21-23), "Shaping our Future: Teaching and Learning at UW-Madison"

This annual symposium brings fauclty, staff, post-docs, and graduate students together in support of teaching and learning at UW-Madison. The symposium's goal is to "share best practices, celebrate accomplishments, discuss new teaching pedagogy, and explore themes of mutual interest." This year, the call for proposals included an invitation to focus on the Essential Learning Outcomes for liberal education, and several sessions address specific elements of the ELOs. Two sessions discuss them explicitly:

2008 Showcase (April 1), "Sharing our Best Practices"

Members of the Convergence group presented a poster for the 2008 Showcase. The presentation highlighted the "bottom up" adoption of the Essential Learning Outcomes, and invited participants in the events to join the movement to embrace essential learning.

March 12, 2008 Focused Discussion: "Essential Learning - What do we already do to promote Essential Learning?"

Vice Provost Brower and Associate Dean Groves Lloyd In Spring 2008, the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning invited a small group of faculty and instructional staff who teach or who influence the 15-20 courses most frequently taken by first-time/first-year and new transfer students to meet and talk about student learning in their courses. They were invited to review the Essential Learning Outcomes, and to consider what their courses, in particular, convey to students.

The participants in this discussion were invited from the schools/colleges that teach undergraduates. Members and friends of the Convergence group led discussion on two broad topics:

  1. Beyond the specific disciplinary content of your course, what do you want students to learn that will stay with them into the future? That is, what are your students learning beyond the content you teach them?
  2. In considering the more focused goals of "General Education," what do you try to teach students in your course's general "breadth" or Gen Ed area (communication, quantitative reasoning)? How do you make the ideas that are implicit in the requirements, explicit for students? Participants discussing in small groups

The results of these conversations will be analyzed to consider what migth be done to better assess student learning in the General Education program, to promote more effectively a shared set of First-Year Learning goals, and similar projects.

Notes from this meeting are available here.

October 11, 2007 First Year Conference

On October 11, 2007, 160 people spent the morning examining how the LEAP essential learning outcomes can be introduced to first year students, to lay a foundation for further exploration to come in their future years at the university. Provost Patrick Farrell delivered a keynote address in which he praised the outcomes, which speak to those things that are most important not only to our students but to their families, their future employers, and to the people of Wisconsin and the world.

See for links to the conference archive, program, and other information.

March 15, 2007 Advising Summit: "Liberal Education for a Lifetime: What You and Your Students Need to Know About Liberal Education"


Keynote speaker: Dr. Debra Humphreys, Vice President for Communications & Public Affairs, Association of American Colleges and Universities.


LEAP Spotting: Where do we see Liberal Education?