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School of Dance, Film, and Theater
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Student Learning Outcomes

Goals and Student Learning Outcomes: BFA and BA

The National Association of Schools of Dance Handbook outlines fundamental expectations for dance graduates quoted here.

Undergraduate studies in dance should prepare students to function in a variety of artistic roles.  In order to achieve this goal, instruction should prepare students to:

  1. Perform in public as dancers;
  2. Develop visual and aural perceptions;
  3. Become familiar with and develop competence in a number of dance techniques and develop proficiency in at least one;
  4. Become familiar with the historical and cultural dimensions of dance, including the works and intentions of leading dancers and choreographers both past and present;
  5. Understand and evaluate contemporary thinking about dance and related arts;
  6. Make informed assessments of quality in works of dance.

Student Learning Outcomes in Dance

The above goals underpin and inform Dance Student Learning Outcomes. Dance learning outcomes reflect our mission and core values emphasizing development and synthesis of intellectual/academic, artistic/creative and technical skills in the dancer. They address proficiency development in four major areas: the creative realm demonstrated through choreography/composition; technical dance skills; academic competency; and the integrated demonstration of professionalism in multiple arenas of student performance. Specific Student Learning Outcomes in Dance are: 

I. Choreography/composition learning outcomes expect students to: embody and integrate fundamental elements of movement exploration; enlist compositional devices to create effective choreographic form and structure; demonstrate development of artistic voice and an informed aesthetic sensibility. (See Appendix A – Student Learning Outcomes for Dance Composition/Choreography)

II. Dance technique learning outcomes expect students to: demonstrate kinesthetic competence evident in physical clarity, body organization, movement skill and phrasing; exhibit presence in performance through dynamic engagement, musical phrasing and responsivity to others. (See Appendix B – Student Learning Outcomes for Dance Technique)

III. Academic learning outcomes expect students to: comprehend and enlist historical, anatomic, and pedagogic dance knowledge to support a position, clarify a perspective or elaborate a thesis; demonstrate ability to enlist dance knowledge effectively in multiple arenas to write and speak clearly and accurately about the field. (See Appendix C – Student Learning Outcomes for Academic Skills in Dance)

IV. Professionalism learning outcomes expect students to: exemplify standards of professionalism including: productive work habits, organizational skills and effective communication in written and oral forms.

Through a series of academic and studio courses and other curricular experiences and opportunities, the above skills are developed in the dance majors. Dance core curriculum in technique and choreography provides practice and guidance in challenges necessary to advance in physical skills and creative proficiency. Dance academics in history, pedagogy, kinesiology, movement studies, and senior capstone courses, facilitate progress in intellectual development and aesthetic sophistication. Dance related requirements and cross-disciplinary curriculum support the capacity to contextualize dance within developments in and histories of other art forms.  

1. Perform in public as dancers. Daily technique classes develop in a natural progression toward increased qualitative performance demands at the higher levels. Major technique classes are supplemented by movement laboratory experiences that specifically address an individual’s training needs as assessed by dance faculty. Pilates, Bartenieff Fundamentals and Yoga, are offered regularly and may be required as supplementary training for the student who requires additional training. 

Dance provides numerous performance opportunities for majors which are built into the annual performance calendar and credited through a repertory course (DANC 3280). Performances opportunities for dance include Fall and Spring term presentations of senior choreography and performance capstone productions that include a modest spring tour and dedicated presentations for local school children; two student organization productions that utilize dance majors as performers, choreographers, and in production and crew positions; and two more extensive productions at Templeton-Blackburn Memorial Auditorium that include the work of faculty and visiting artists.  

The performance itself remains the primary testing ground for the accomplishments of the students in this component of their training, and offers a primary assessment location for the faculty.  Frequently visiting artists provide additional external assessment of student performance in written evaluations. Senior Project concerts (Dance 4800), fully produced concerts of senior creative and performative work, represent the culmination of both the performance and choreographic work of the senior as well as performance work of underclassmen cast in senior works. In the case of senior dances, Composition Lab serves as a place for critical viewing and discussion of works in progress.  Fully produced concerts of work by under classmen through The Movement and the Athens Black Contemporary Dance Co., student organizations, are presented in fall and spring. A mid-spring term concert of faculty and guest artist choreographic work presents student dancers in performance at Templeton-Blackburn Memorial Auditorium. 

2. Develop visual and aural perceptions. Visual perception acuity is cultivated in composition classes that encourage constructive criticism of creative work in verbal and written forms. Pedagogy classes encourage the development of visual/verbal acuity necessary to guide others in movement experiences. Additional study in art history, art studio, and film and video are strongly suggested. Aural perception is equally important, and the following courses have been offered within the School: Music for Dance I (Dance 1110) in the freshman year, and Music for Dance II (Dance 3120) in the sophomore year. Students are urged to take additional courses in music history and music studio offered through the School of Music to fulfill dance electives.

3.Become familiar with and develop competence in a number of dance techniques and develop proficiency in at least one.BFA students are expected to demonstrate advanced level achievement in modern as a primary technique and to demonstrate intermediate/advanced level competency in a second technique. BA students are expected to demonstrate intermediate/advanced level competency in a primary technique of their choice (with the approval of the faculty) and intermediate skill in a secondary technique.

Three modern class periods (MWF) and two in ballet class periods (TTH) per week comprise the required technique component of the BFA dance major "core" study. Additional technique courses are available to the student (jazz and African) and are required rotations in technique study. Majors may also avail themselves of more advanced non-major classes in ballet, modern and jazz techniques. Dance Movement Laboratory (Dance 3360), offers movement classes in alternative training approaches and provide a means for delivering special offerings in studio-based movement study. 

4. Become familiar with the historical and cultural dimensions of dance, including the works and intentions of leading dancers and choreographers both past and present. The history and cultural dimensions of dance are covered in several courses that enrich the students' training. These are initiated by an introductory first year history course, followed by in-depth history courses and dance courses with a world perspective. Exposure to visiting artists in residence provides a critical component of the aesthetic orientation valued in the school. 

Students become familiar with historical and cultural dimensions of dance in the following courses: 

a.The Language of Dance (Dance 2700) offered freshman year is part of the core curriculum in dance. This survey course forms a vital introduction for beginners in how to see, discuss and write about dance. It imparts an appreciation for the variety and scope of twentieth century theatrical dance and begins the development of language necessary to verbal description and discussion of dance as an art form. Student assignments include archival research in the Nikolais Louis Collection. 

b.Additional Dance History courses are a major requirement. These courses are spread out over the junior and senior years. Materials covered in these courses allow the students to become familiar with the development of dance styles in western art dance. Courses include, Dance 4710 The Histories of Modern and Postmodern Choreography and Practice and Dance 4711 Dance, Sexuality and Gender. 

c.  Required courses addressing a dance with a cross cultural perspective, permit the student to further cultivate an appreciation of the wider dimensions of dance in a variety of cultures through exposure to world dance in studio and lecture format. These courses include: Dance 2710 Black Dance Forms, Dance 3550 Dance Cultures of the World and Dance 4750 Dance in Non-Western Expressive Cultures. 

d.Assigned reading in choreography courses in all levels often includes biographies and autobiographies of prominent dancers and/or choreographers, critical essays by leading dance critics, and other writings by people in related fields.  Such readings broaden the students’ perceptions, help to introduce them to the world of dance in a broader context and create opportunities for synthesis of dance knowledge.

5. Understand and evaluate contemporary thinking about dance and related arts. Dance history courses and exposure to contemporary choreographers builds and supports appreciation for contemporary aesthetics in dance and the arts. Acquiring understanding about related arts has been a central concern of the program historically. Prior to the Quarters to Semester change students were required to take two theory and two studio courses from among the related arts (music, art, theater, or film). Reductions in credit hours necessary to graduate has altered the specific requirements but interdisciplinary study in the arts persists as an essential value of the school as is strongly recommended as part of elective study.

The merger of the Schools of Dance Film and Theater reframed the inter/cross-disciplinary possibilities in the School’s three art forms for the dance major. The merger increased opportunities for participation in the study and the making of art. A Creative Collaboration course, designed to introduce first year dance and theater students to the creative process within each discipline, encourages this goal. An elective choreography for video course introduces students to choreography for the camera through a review of the video and film work and writings on dance in film.  

6. Make informed assessments of quality in works of dance.  All of the above endeavors are geared toward helping the dance major understand and make informed judgments about contemporary thinking in dance and related areas. Students in composition courses are expected to participate in a constructive feedback process and to see and discuss/write/respond to regular live performances. Immediate involvement with the creation of new choreographic work by faculty and visiting artists supports the aesthetic maturation of the student dancer. Established artists as well as more cutting edge artists visit our campus for residencies of varying length. Guest Scholars supplement presentations in dance history courses.

Supplemental Information: Appendices A-C (PDF)