General Education Assessment

Measuring a row of skulls

History of General Education Assessment at UNCW

Overview

The general education core curriculum at UNCW is called University Studies. Prior to he Fall 2011 semester, the general education curriculum was called the Basic Studies Program. Direct assessment of the Basic Studies Program began in Spring 2010. Prior to that, assessment of Basic Studies learning outcomes has been accomplished using one indirect measure—five administrations of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007—and one direct measure—the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) beginning in Fall 2007.

Changes to the General Education curriculum

A Basic Studies Revision Task Force produced a proposal for general education revision by the Faculty Senate Basic Studies Committee in 2007. This report was grounded in seven Faculty Senate-approved learning outcomes for general education. (See the March 2006 Faculty Senate Minutes.) The recommendations of the Faculty Senate Basic Studies Committee were approved by the Faculty Senate in 2009.

Evolution of Assessment

A Learning Assessment Council, formed Spring 2008 in response to a need for a broadly representative assessment oversight body, receives general education assessment information and makes recommendations based on assessment analysis and trends. In August 2008, Provost Chapman charged a General Education Assessment Committee to design assessment mechanisms for the current Basic Studies structure using the Faculty Senate-approved learning outcomes. The Committee’s report established nine learning goals for the UNCW graduate, eight of which apply to Basic Studies in the areas of: foundational knowledge, inquiry, information literacy, critical thinking, thoughtful expression, second language, diversity and global citizenship. The report sets forth a timetable and detailed implementation steps for assessing each goal, including the assessment tools to be used. A Fall 2008 survey of all faculty teaching Basic Studies courses was conducted by the Committee to determine the level of appropriateness of individual course goals to the Basic Studies learning goals, and, in the case of appropriate alignment and for the purpose of collecting student work to be assessed, to determine the student work currently being assigned that demonstrates student achievement of the learning goals.

UNC Wilmington is an AAC&U VALUE Partner Campus. The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) has completed a multi-year nationwide project to develop rubrics for assessing general education learning outcomes. Funded by a FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education) grant, the VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) Program was established to develop and test rubrics for 14 Essential Learning Outcomes of the Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) campaign. Twelve universities constitute the VALUE Leadership Campuses, who extensively piloted the draft rubrics. Additional institutions may be invited to become VALUE Partner Campuses. These institutions used AAC&U metarubrics to assess local undergraduate e-portfolios or other student work and providing general feedback on usefulness while facilitating rapid piloting and development of the rubrics. Because AAC&U rubrics had been among our top choices as assessment tools, the General Education Assessment Committee contacted the VALUE Project manager, and UNCW was invited to become one of 35 VALUE Partner Campuses. The Committee was thus able to base its assessment recommendations on rubrics released for review and testing on December 31, 2008. UNCW committed to evaluating two rubrics—the critical thinking rubric and the written communication rubric—before the end of the 2009 spring semester.

This pilot evaluation was completed, and minor edits were made to the rubrics based on feedback from faculty and scorers. UNCW continues to use the AAC&U VALUE rubrics to assess student work in the areas of critical thinking, written and oral communication, inquiry, and information literacy.


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