A3 Lower Division Critical Thinking

Course Expectations for Lower Division Critical Thinking (A3) (3 units)

To be certified by the Baccalaureate Requirements Committee as meeting the lower-division critical thinking (A3) general education requirement,


  1. The course must be lower division, open to all students, and may not have prerequisites.

  2. At least one of the assignments must be related in some way to one or more of the following topics, drawn from the goals for the baccalaureate at San Francisco State University: (a) human diversity within the United States and/or globally; (b) ethical choices; (c) social justice; (d) the well-being of communities, nations, or the people of the world; (e) the sustainability of the natural environment; (f) applications of academic knowledge to what is important in one’s own life; or (g) what unites us as human beings across time.

  3. At least one of the assignments shall involve (a) utilizing a plan for acquiring and recording information employing basic search strategies to explore core sources, including library resources; (b) articulating and applying rudimentary criteria in evaluating information and sources; and (c) using and citing properly the information in assignments.

  4. Assignments shall foster the understanding and value of academic integrity, and encourage students to take responsibility as an engaged person in various roles: student, learner, professional, and global citizen.

  5. Some assignments or classroom activities should encourage the development of skills and strategies for working collaboratively.

  6. The course syllabus must include references to assignments that are described above as part of the course expectations.

  7. The course syllabus must include the university-approved student learning outcomes for critical thinking and link them to activities and/or assignments that students complete to demonstrate they have met the outcomes.


Student Learning Outcomes for Lower Division Critical Thinking (A3) (3 units)

After completion of a lower division general education course in critical thinking, students will be able to:


  1. understand and articulate basic principles of formal reasoning and their relation to language, and be able to communicate in language that meets the standards of logic;

  2. analyze, criticize and advocate ideas;

  3. identify common formal and informal fallacies of reasoning, both to avoid these in their own thinking and to criticize these in thinking presented to them;

  4. construct elementary valid deductive arguments, including being able to identify and assess overtly expressed premises, suppressed premises, and conclusions;

  5. construct elementary sound inductive arguments, including being able to identify and assess hypotheses and evidence;

  6. distinguish matters of fact from issues of judgment or opinion, and construct arguments that reach valid or well-supported factual and judgmental conclusions; and

  7. demonstrate ethical conduct in reasoning, meeting at least the following standards for respectful participation in the community of learners: accurately stating and not misrepresenting the strength of logical connections, not misleading others regarding the truth status of empirical claims, providing full citation or attribution of other people's views, adhering to the "principle of generosity" in reporting or interpreting other people's views.


Links between Educational Goals and Outcomes for Lower Division Critical Thinking

The student learning outcomes were developed in relationship to the “Educational Goals for the Baccalaureate at San Francisco State University.” The chart below illustrates that relationship for lower division critical thinking. The numbers correspond to the way the educational goals and student learning outcomes are numbered above.


Links Between Educational Goals and Learning Outcomes

Educational Goals

Student Learning Outcomes for Lower Division Critical Thinking

1. Competencies for Lifelong Intellectual Endeavor

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

4. Ethical Engagement