Pathways / General Education

The Pathways to General Education program is a vibrant, flexible, and innovative general education program that provides a coherent and meaningful learning experience and allows students to integrate the learning for use throughout their lifetimes.  As a central component of the undergraduate experience at Virginia Tech, the Pathways curriculum will guide students to examine the world from multiple perspectives and integrate their knowledge across disciplines and domains of learning through a hands-on, minds-on approach.

Core learning area outcomes, as defined through indicators of learning, are addressed in the pathways program.  Discourse, Quantitative and Computational Thinking, Reasoning in the Natural Sciences, Critique and Practice in Design and the Arts, Reasoning in the Social Sciences, and Critical Thinking in the Humanities are the core learning areas.  In addition, integrative outcomes related to Ethical Reasoning and Intercultural and Global Awareness are addressed in the curriculum.  More information can be found at

Virginia Tech's assessment of the general education program is course-embedded, faculty led, and improvement focused.  Assessment will focus on the overall effectiveness of the Pathways General Education Program at required for SACSCOC accreditation.  The tenets for assessment include the following:

  • Assessment of student learning is based on student work that is required in the course and aligns with the indicators.
  • The assessment process will honor the diversity of disciplinary methodologies.
  • Data are collected at the assignment level and aggregated to measure the effectiveness of the program, not the competency of the individual student or instructor.
  • The assessment process will build on and feed existing best assessment practices on campus.
  • The data gathered for assessment will be used to inform teaching and learning in general education.
  • Faculty will have appropriate and continuing support to engage in course design, course-embedded assessment, curriculum alignment, and program improvement.
  • As program assessment supports ongoing improvement of the curriculum, the assessment process will also be dynamic and open to ongoing improvement as needed.  Assessment is the process of systematically collecting information about student learning for the purpose of making more transparent what students take away from their course experiences.

For Pathways, particularly given its early implementation, assessment provides information for faculty to examine the curriculum and see where areas might be strengthened.

By the end of summer 2016, faculty groups will have developed specific criteria for each Pathways outcome to guide faculty members teaching Pathways courses in categorizing students into three competency levels: below competent, competent, or above competent.