Students sometimes ask, “Why do I need to take GEN 499?” During your time at UAGC, you have been developing specific skills related to each of the learning outcomes in various courses, so this course helps test that knowledge. 

GEN 499 brings you the opportunity to exhibit what you have learned using your well-developed critical thinking skills, communication skills, ethical reasoning skills, and information technology skills, as well as illustrate global citizenship and multicultural understanding. Since this is a capstone course, the goal is for you to demonstrate these general education learning outcomes. Like other general education competency courses, GEN 499 requires a 70% (C-) or better to pass. An open mind and a clear understanding of why you're taking this course are the first steps to successful completion.

Why You Need to Take GEN 499

Here are three key reasons it is important for you to take GEN 499: General Education Capstone course.

1. Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills

Why should you want to improve your critical thinking skills? If you can think of one person who exemplifies what it means to be a good critical thinker, who would that be? Elon Musk, perhaps? Basically, a good critical thinker is able to analyze and evaluate information from observations and experiences in order to guide them into developing a certain belief or theory (Erstad, 2018). Being a critical thinker is what all people should aspire to be.

In GEN 499, practically every assignment challenges you to utilize your critical thinking skills. This can be done through weekly discussions with your fellow classmates and by doing thorough research on your final essay topic and identifying scholarly, peer-reviewed sources. Also, your critical thinking skills will be assessed in Week 4 through a critical thinking quiz that will require you to answer multiple-choice questions based on a presented scenario. Ultimately, this course prepares you to use critical thinking skills when progressing through your career.

2. Increase Awareness of Diversity and Global Issues

As you know, the United States is considered to be a melting pot, consisting of people from various cultures with different beliefs and values. During the first week of GEN 499, you will have a written assignment that draws attention to various outcomes of global citizenship and allows you to identify ways in which you have demonstrated being a global citizen. Furthermore, each week builds upon the next with regards to the final essay topic that you choose during the Week 1 discussion. The topic will address a global societal issue in which you consider cultural and ethical components as you determine realistic solutions to the problems at hand. 

3. Improve Formatting and Communication Skills through Writing

Throughout GEN 499, there are several opportunities to express your thoughts through writing. Within the instructions for the Week 1, Week 3, and Week 5 assignments, you will find a template/assignment guide in the form of a hyperlink (right-click and then click on “open link in new tab”) that demonstrates how each assignment should be organized. This helps you first with structuring your assignment and it ensures that you cover each prompt of the assignment. Each of these example guides are already provided in APA format (7th edition).

Also, if you think you haven’t been the best writer throughout your college experience, there are several resources at your service through the UAGC Writing Center. You can submit your assignment via the Paper Review tool and receive tutoring services. Furthermore, you can use Grammarly to check for basic errors and TurnitIn to help verify you've accurately cited your written assignments. 

GEN 499 and You

The purpose of GEN 499 is to provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned over the course of your general education courses in relation to your selected programs of study. This course is broader than most in that it does not focus on providing information related to any one area of study. Through course discussions, written assignments, and assessments, you will successfully demonstrate the aforementioned course learning outcomes, thereby developing the confidence to pursue your professional pursuits.

Good luck!


Dr. Sonja Bethune, a former Associate Professor in the Center for the Enhancement of First Year Experience at the University of Arizona Global Campus.

Erstad, W. (2018, January 22). 6 critical thinking skills you need to master now. Rasmussen College. 

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