All students at Pacific Lutheran University strive to attain their own goals that they set for themselves, whatever they be. In addition, the University has set forth five values, or objectives, that it believes all students should reach by the time they leave the University with a degree. Regardless of a student’s major, minor, strengths, or interests, each student should be able to show evidence that they not only understand these values but have shown that understanding through different works or assignments.

These values are called ILOs, or Integrated Learning Objectives. They provide a common understanding for all students about what is expected from a successful undergraduate at PLU. This is not to say that every course and every department stresses all five objectives the same amount, or that they encompass all there is to be learned as an undergraduate at PLU. They simply provide a common ground that all students, regardless of concentration, can integrate into their unique study. The five ILOs are: Critical and Reflective Thinking, Expression, Interaction, Valuing, and Multiple Frameworks.

As a Communication major and History minor, I think that I have definitely been exposed to these learning objectives. I have taken a wide variety of classes that have stressed critical thinking (as I think all classes at PLU do) and have looked at things from many different viewpoints. Below are my interpretations of the five ILOs. I then provide evidence, by way of assignments or other things that I have done during my college career.

ILOs – Integrated Learning Objectives

Critical and Reflective Thinking: This objective, I believe, is one of the most important ones that I have learned while here at PLU. It suggests that students should be able to look at, analyze, infer relationships and make conclusions from events and the world around them in general. Students should be able to discover problems, formulate steps to address the problem, decide between different problem solving frameworks and review what worked and what did not in the framework they chose to use. The ability to work with others as well as individually are important skills to possess.

I think that this is one of the objectives in which I have grown the most during my college career. At PLU, we are always encouraged, and pretty much required, to think critically and then reflect about what we learned, what we still don’t understand, and what could be done better next time.

Below are links to materials that I believe showcase my mastery of this objective:

As a member of MediaLab, I had the opportunity to be on a documentary team my sophomore year. I was on a team of 3 students who researched, made contacts, traveled, interviewed, constructed and edited a documentary titled “Overexposed: The Cost of Compassion.” The documentary addresses the topic of ‘compassion fatigue,’ a natural human condition that can occur when people are traumatized or work with people who are traumatized. It is definitely one of my proudest accomplishments during my college career. You can watch a trailer of it. The entire documentary will be available online soon. The entire process of working with 2 other people and editing a documentary presented many instances of needed problem solving. It was an interesting and rewarding experience.

Another artifact of mine that I believe shows my mastering of this ILO is something a little different. Another subject in which you need to problem solve is photojournalism. As a photojournalist, you constantly have to visually problem solve; whether it be issues with composition, lighting, or issues specific to the subject in which you are photographing. For my last assignment in my photojournalism class, I did a photo essay on a PLU senior during her last few weeks of college. I thought that it would be interesting to document the happenings of a senior when they were studying for finals, finishing up projects, preparing for graduation and spending quality free time with friends. You can view my photo essay here.

I also had the opportunity to study away in Seoul, South Korea for a semester. I took a class through my study away program called “Living and Learning in Seoul.” It was designed to help us evaluate our experiences living and interacting inside another country and with another culture. In this field report, I discuss how literate I think I was at the time with different aspects of Korean culture. I attempted to make connections between Korean culture and American culture.

I would say that my weakness with this ILO is that I am not the best at the reflective part. I am a much better critical thinker than I am a reflective thinker. I think that this is because I like to work on things in-depth, but I don’t necessarily enjoy thinking about things once I’m done with them, especially if it requires thinking about myself. This is definitely something that I could improve upon in the future.

Expression:  Expression is all about the ability to communicate thoughts, ideas, problems, etc., to others whether it be verbally and non-verbally. It is important to understand who your audience is for everything that you do; if you do not know how to focus the information you want to convey to a particular individual or group, based on their interest to your topic, their knowledge of the topic, age, location, etc., what you wish to share with others may not be absorbed and understood in the way that you intended it to be. The ability to express your thoughts, ideas, feelings and opinions is also a very rewarding experience and something that students will need to do in different arenas for the rest of their lives. If you are not able to communicate what is most important or interesting to you, success in the professional arena may prove to be difficult.

Expression is something that I have improved immensely on during my time at PLU. Throughout high school, I was always comfortable speaking in front of people and sharing my ideas; I held multiple leadership positions, was a captain on my tennis team and even gave the opening speech at my high school graduation. However, there was still a lot that I could improve on. I think that one thing, specifically, that I have improved on is presenting my ideas and information in a more structured way. I have also improved a lot on targeting my desired audience.

Below are links to materials that I believe showcase my mastery of this objective:

This is a persuasive speech about teens and internet safety from my public speaking class. We were required to write 3 different types of speeches, including a persuasive speech, like the one here. Not only did my speech writing skills improve, but I also improved a lot on my speech delivery. We practiced different techniques on how to structure speeches and how they should be delivered. I am much more comfortable expressing myself in front of large audiences, partly due to the fact that I now know how to much more effectively structure what I want to say.

Not only do I think my verbal expression skills have improved, but I also know that my written expressive skills have gotten much better. As a Journalism major, I had the opportunity to intern at two different weekly newspapers as well as KING 5 TV. These internships really aided me in improving my audience-targeting skills. Writing a story for a weekly newspaper for a small city is much different than writing a web story for Western Washington’s news leader. Here is one of my favorite articles that I wrote for the Liberty Lake Splash. It is about a soap box derby race to benefit children with special needs. In comparison, here is a web story that I wrote for KING 5’s website about the 50th anniversary celebration of the Seattle Center Monorail.

I’m not sure if I can pinpoint a weakness of mine with this ILO. I feel like I have come such a long way and am so incredibly comfortable with what this ILO sets forth that one specific weakness does not present itself. That is not to say that I have nothing to improve on, however; I know that I could overall strengthen my expression skills.

Interaction: Interaction is all about knowing how you act in different situations and the roles that you play in those situations. If you are working in a group, what role do you play? Are you a leader? A follower? How does your role contribute to the success of the group and its goal? These are the types of questions to ask when evaluating your position. All decisions that are made in a group context should be made for the benefit of all subjects involved.

I think that this ILO was one that I didn’t really see a whole lot of change within myself about. That doesn’t mean that I think that I am really weak at it; rather I think that before coming to PLU I already understood this value, because I had been exposed to it a lot in high school. I was a part of many clubs and organizations in my high schools days and the people that I was involved in those groups with discussed the concept of leadership and groups a lot. I had the opportunity of holding several leadership positions, including in my high school’s diversity club, the varsity tennis team, and a Lutheran youth board through my church. I think that I have always been a quiet, more reserved leader who always wants to assist my group members in any way that I can. One weakness of mine with this value might be that I always have to be in control of the project, at least in some way. I have a hard time trusting other people with my grade and my group’s success. I would rather take on more responsibility so that I can ensure the quality of our finished product.

Below are links to materials that I believe showcase my mastery of this objective:

The documentary project that I mentioned above in the Critical and Reflective Thinking ILO also applies to this ILO.

Another artifact is this PowerPoint presentation. For one of the courses that I took at Yonsei University in Seoul, North Korean Politics and Society, I was required to do a group project and presentation about the possibility of Korean reunification. We all worked together to research, produce and organize the information. Only one group member was allowed to present our presentation, and I was the one from my group to do so.

A third artifact is a journalistic article that I had to write as a group project in my Depth Reporting class. My group decided to do ours on the issue of domestic violence in the South Puget Sound region and the resources that people have in the area. I took the lead on writing and editing our written project and delegated tasks to each group member. I also oversaw our daily improvements on our project.

I also had the opportunity while studying away in Korea to participate in a program where I taught English to North Korean students who lived in Seoul. This program was all about interaction – often awkward and challenging interaction. All of the students had a different level of English proficiency, and I with my elementary Korean proficiency could do little to communicate with them in their native language. There were however some of my peers who were either fluent in Korean or at least knew a good deal of it. In this instance, I did take more of a backseat, simply because I couldn’t communicate with them as much as I had hoped. But, the experience was still life-changing and very rewarding.

Valuing: Valuing is knowing and understanding the value that every person brings to the world. No two people are the same; people have different backgrounds, different opinions, different ways of interacting and communicating. Instead of identifying your own way of doing things as superior, valuing means identifying that the differences between people make the world a richer, more interesting and more successful place. It is important to know the importance of ethics and how your decisions affect you and the people around you. Embracing diversity is essential for this ILO. Also, it is important to recognize that different people and different cultures express themselves in a variety of ways, often in opposition to how your culture does so.

I have had many wonderful experiences while at PLU that have helped me strengthen my understanding and appreciation of not only my own culture, but other cultures as well. During the Fall semester of 2011, I had the opportunity to study away in Seoul, South Korea. The trip was prompted by my interest in Korean history, Korean popular culture, and the desire to learn the language. The experiences that I had while in Korea changed me forever. I learned so much about Korean history and Korean culture – which is different than American culture on many levels – that has helped me value people, cultures, and what they have to offer. Even before I went to Korea, I was extremely interested in different cultures and was always wanting to learn more.

If I had to point out a weakness, I think that it would be that I cannot fully understand what it is like to be a part of another culture. I know that this is out of my control, but I still wish that it was possible. As much as I tried to integrate myself into the culture, I still come from a different place, a different background, and have had different life experiences. But, I can attempt to appreciate and understand other cultures as much as possible!

Below are links to materials that I believe showcase my mastery of this objective:

My culminating project itself, I think, displays my mastery of this ILO. It is all about how masculinity in Korean popular culture is portrayed in a much different way than it is in American popular culture. Instead of discrediting this construction, I embrace it.

I did a group research paper in my Intercultural Communication class. It was about the different ways that people communicate in Korean culture compared to in American culture. We do not state that one is better than the other, but rather that an understanding of both will lead to acceptance and respect. The paper was titled “Don’t Be Rude: An American Student’s Guide for Effective and Appropriate Communication in South Korea.”

Multiple Frameworks: Multiple frameworks is about the ability to identify problems and issues that different cultures face and appreciating the approaches, although they may be completely different, that those different cultures have to combating those issues.

This is one ILO that I can improve on. I believe that I have a good grasp on a variety of problems that different cultures find themselves facing today. However, I believe that if you really want to understand why issues are in fact issues for a particular culture, you need to have a deep background and knowledge of the culture. I know that I have this about Korean culture, but I know that I am lagging when it comes to other countries and cultures.

Below are links to materials that I believe showcase my mastery of this objective:

I wrote a paper in my Intercultural Communication class called a Cultural Identity Project. I really enjoyed working on this project because it required me to take an in-depth look at myself and how I define and identify myself culturally. Not only did I examine how I communicate as a product of my culture, but I also discuss how I can successfully cross cultural boundaries mindfully and communicate with people from different cultures about a variety of things.

Also, as part of my Modern Korean History class that I took while studying in Seoul, I did a research project on the topic of comfort women. Different countries and cultures responded to the issue in different ways, and in this presentation, I compare the Korean and the Dutch comfort women. I assert the value of the humane treatment of all human beings and how the two cultures battled, and are still battling, for an apology.


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