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ASSESSMENT AT 1900 FEETFROSTBURG STATE UNIVERSITY Dr. Randall Rhodes, Assistant Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Robert Smith, Assistant VP for Planning, Assessment, and Institutional Research
Goals for General Education 1. CORE SKILLS Students will: demonstrate foundational skills in the comprehension and interpretation of information in written and oral forms; communicate information and ideas effectively; understand and apply mathematical reasoning to solve quantitative problems and to evaluate quantitative information and arguments; use technological resources as appropriate to access and communicate relevant information. 2. LIBERAL KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS OF INQUIRY, CRITICAL THINKING, AND SYNTHESIS Students will: demonstrate foundational abilities to apply different methods of inquiry from various perspectives and disciplines to gather information; comprehend and use various fundamental research methods to evaluate information critically; use problem-defining and problem-solving skills by synthesizing core concepts within and across disciplines; demonstrate sustained intellectual curiosity through exploration of emerging issues. 3. VALUES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY Students will: demonstrate respect and tolerance for other cultures and societies; make personal judgments based on ethical considerations and societal values; exhibit civic responsibility and leadership; understand the purpose and value of community service in advancing society. 4. APPRECIATION OF CULTURAL IDENTITIES Students will: demonstrate the skills, and attitudes essential for communicating and cooperating effectively with people of diverse backgrounds; demonstrate an awareness of the cultural and social exercise of power; recognize and appreciate arguments supporting perspectives different from your own.
Undergraduate Institutional Learning Goals 1. CORE SKILLS 2. LIBERAL KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS OF INQUIRY, CRITICAL THINKING, AND SYNTHESIS 3. VALUES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY 4. APPRECIATION OF CULTURAL IDENTITIES 5. ACQUISITION AND APPLICATION OF SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE Students will: Demonstrate technical and analytic skills that are appropriate to their fields of study and applicable to future careers; Acquire research skills and specialized vocabulary for critical discourse; Demonstrate competencies and achievements appropriate to their fields of study; Apply classroom learning in a combination of reflective practice and experiential education.
Faculty Planning Groups Information Literacy and Fluency Planning Group Basic Skills in Technology Literacy and Fluency Planning Group Basic Skills in Quantitative Reasoning Planning Group Basic Skills in Critical Thinking Planning Group Basic Skills in Scientific Reasoning/Three-Credit Science Course Planning Group Basic Skills in Written Communication/Writing-Intensive Planning Group Basic Skills in Oral Communication/Speaking-Intensive Planning Group Advanced FSU Colloquium Planning Group
Sample Rubric from the University Undergraduate Curriculum Review Subcommittee (UUCR) FIRST-YEAR FSU COLLOQUIUM COURSE REVIEW FORM COURSE _______________________________________________________ KEY: 3 = meets fully; 2 = meets partially or moderately; 1 = not at all The proposed course’s content crosses at least two of the Modes of Inquiry content areas within FSU’s general education program. Comments: The proposal clearly describes how the interdisciplinary process will be addressed. Comments: The proposal clearly identifies its connection to Undergraduate Institutional Learning Goals and the Goals of the General Education Program. Comments: The proposal clearly identifies specific course activities that support the identified learning goals. Comments: The assessment mechanisms as defined are appropriate. Comments:
Course Portfolio • Syllabus • Narrative outlining linkages of course goals/objectives to those of the GEP and institution • Examples of course activities designed to ensure the above linkages • Examples of student products • Samples of instructor feedback to students • Executed samples of assessment (rubrics)
Course Review Form GENERAL EDUCATION: MODES OF INQUIRY COURSE REVIEW FORM COURSE _______________________________________________________ KEY: 3 = Above Standards; 2 = Meets Standards; 1 = Below Standards 1. The course’s curriculum reflects the fundamental belief of Frostburg State University’s Program of General Education in the concept of a liberal education: that students learn more completely and more deeply when components of general education and the majors are interwoven to offer multiple opportunities to develop connections between disciplines, theories, and ideas. (provide syllabus) Comments: 2. The course’s curriculum allows students to acquire a level of proficiency in at least three of the seven basic skills of general education, e.g. (1) critical thinking, 2) information literacy, 3) oral communication, 4) quantitative reasoning, 5) scientific reasoning, 6) technology literacy, and 7) written communication. (provide narrative) Comments: 3. Instruction and course activities allow students to acquire a level of proficiency in at least three of the seven basic skills of general education, e.g. (1) critical thinking, 2) information literacy, 3) oral communication, 4) quantitative reasoning, 5) scientific reasoning, 6) technology literacy, and 7) written communication. (provide narrative and/or documentation) Comments: 4. The assessment mechanisms as employed in the course are appropriate. The faculty member is engaged in identifying, administering, and evaluating assessment instruments and results. (provide copies of student products and instructor feedback, e.g. papers, tests, projects, etc.) Comments:
Sample Chapter Critical Thinking (Modes of Inquiry: Category E) As per guidelines established by the faculty work group, Critical Thinking is defined as reflective, self-directed thinking that requires skills in reasoning and the dispositions to use those skills so that a person can think effectively about questions, problems, and decisions both inside and outside of the classroom. A student who has developed basic skills in Critical Thinking will be able to • Analyze questions and problems from multiple perspectives and points of view; • Evaluate relevant evidence to draw sound conclusions from information provided to them in their major field of study, general education courses, and everyday lives; • Properly construct arguments from information provided to them. A student who has developed critical thinking dispositions will show the inclination to • Approach questions with an open-minded and curious attitude, be informed by multiple relevant perspectives, and be willing to examine questions in a fair-minded way; • Apply critical thinking skills to thinking about issues in a major field of study, general education courses, and everyday lives; • Reflect on how best to answer questions, solve problems, and make decisions in academic and everyday settings. Since the 2005 undergraduate catalog, all students are required to take IDIS 150: First-Year FSU Colloquium. The curricular focus is on the faculty modeling interdisciplinary thought as a particular theme or issue is introduced and discussed from multiple disciplinary perspectives. The course has as its primary goal the modeling by faculty of diverse approaches and the integration of those approaches in the consideration of an inherently interdisciplinary course topic. In the early stages of students’ college careers, modeling the ambiguities and the search for resolutions in interdisciplinary thought is particularly valuable as a precursor to the types of connections they will be expected to make in their major academic studies. It is suggested that students complete the course prior to earning 45 credit hours. IDIS 150 examines a selected theme or subject from multiple perspectives within two or more of the five academic areas as identified by the Code of Maryland: (1) Arts and Humanities, (2) Social and Behavioral Sciences, (3) Biological and Physical Sciences, (4) Mathematics, and (5) English Composition. FSU has further defined a multi-disciplinary approach in a First-Year FSU Colloquium to mean that all sections of IDIS 150 will explore a course topic from the perspective of at least two of the Modes of Inquiry content areas of the GEP.
FIRST-YEAR FSU COLLOQUIUM CRITICAL THINKING COURSE REVIEW FORM COURSE _______________________________________________________ KEY: 3 = Above Standards; 2 = Meets Standards; 1 = Below Standards
IDIS 150.010, 011: Just War: An Inspection of the Rationality for and Morality of the Wars of the Twentieth Century The instructor taught two sections of this course topic during spring 2011 with a total enrollment of 45 students. The sponsoring department’s reviewer scored the course as “Above Standards” for the first three dimensions, as “Meets Standards” for the fourth, and as “Below Standards” for the fifth. The reviewer commented on 1) the interdisciplinary course content mirroring that in the disciplines of HIST, PHIL, and POSC, such as the theory explaining historical events and developments, and the readings confronting the moral and philosophical issues regarding war, and 2) the GEP Learning Goals are noted in the pedagogical model of cross-disciplinary, synthesis and analysis in the assigned readings that require students to critically think about different viewpoints and perspectives of just war, as well as make judgments based on societal values, as well as recognizing and appreciating arguments supporting perspectives different from their own. In respect to course activities, the reviewer noted that the expected outcome for reading and writing assignments, as well as discussion, is for students to comprehend the causes of war by using specific examples, how philosophical debates apply or not, and international contexts. The use of technology to access and communicate relevant information is partially supported by students answering discussion questions on Blackboard, though there is no evidence that they communicate with one another or engage in dialogue, which is required according to the syllabus. In preparation for the Research Project, students do meet in groups to discuss their research of the assigned topic and later peer evaluate. The writing assignments get students to critically evaluate sources and diverse arguments across disciplines. While the discussion questions in the syllabus seem to get students to think critically, in respect to assessment mechanisms, the criteria for peer evaluation is not provided, nor were samples provided of the students’ outline for the conflict narrative, and the grading of class participation is unclear. Feedback to students is limited and flaws in syntax are ignored. No quizzes or examinations were given. The course portfolio included the following: (1) Syllabus: (a lengthy course description outlines a pedagogy that focuses on critical thinking, synthesis, information literacy, research, and the presentation of multiple perspectives. Course work consists of written assignments based on readings, group discussions, participation in discussion forums on Blackboard, short papers, and a research project. A tentative schedule matches lecture topics and required readings with critical discussion topics), (2) Week 1 Online Discussion: (a screen capture of the thread of discussion requiring students to critically assess a definition presented in the reading), (3) Topics for Final Papers: (selection of 5 wars with appropriate resources.), (4) On-line readings, (5) Student course free responses, and (6) Students’ short and final papers: Instructor feedback and score at end. Evaluation: The course stresses Critical Thinking, Research and Synthesis. The discussion questions promote fluency in these GEP/Core skills including written communication. If these skills are core to the course, then appropriate levels of fluency in these skills need to be defined. The syllabus needs to clearly state course objectives and expected student learning outcomes. The presented documents did not specifically outline expectations for assessment. Instructor feedback on papers, again, addressed the issue of critical thinking however, the method for the assignment of grades was not explained. No rubrics were included. Student free responses note the fact that the course raised challenging questions with discussions being enlightening and enjoyable. The pedagogy was described by students as conducive to the presentation of varied student perspectives. Meets Standards.
Summary of ObservationsPhase I From a review of the submitted materials, issues periodically emerged that require additional attention. Departments self-selected courses to be included in Phase I. This process raised questions. While 47% of GEP/Core Skills courses are taught by adjuncts (PTNTT and FTNTT combined), only 8% of courses offered for assessment during Phase I were taught by adjuncts. Are departmental expectations for student learning outcomes variable depending on the rank of the instructor? (Ironically, the two courses taught by PTNTTs were scored as “Meets Standards” and “Above Standards”; the course taught by the FTNTT was scored as “Above Standards.”) FSU must ensure that course sections taught by PTNTTs and FTNTTs offer the same quality instruction. Faculty seemed to be unaware of BOR, MHEC, and institutional expectations in respect to Learning Goals. Faculty also need to be informed of the institutional mission in respect to the Core Skills. Courses most recently approved by UUCR fared the best, especially those that were taught for the first time. Courses taught by new faculty received higher scores, as perhaps, new faculty rethought course assumptions. Courses with lower scores were approved a long time ago and may currently be taught by faculty other than those who proposed them to UUCR . Therefore, stated intentions do not always equate with documented realities.
Recommendations fromPhase I Phase II will be conducted during the 2010-2011 academic year. • Between 30 and 40 courses will be assessed. • Courses that were evaluated as “Below Standards” during Phase I will be reassessed. • Courses will be selected by the Assistant Dean in order to vary the distribution across categories of the GEP and Core Skills. No courses from Phase I will be repeated. • There will be a more equitable inclusion of courses taught by PTNTTs and FTNTTs. • Departments that have exhausted their GEP offerings in Phase I, or do not offer GEP courses, will assess courses within the major programs that focus on discipline-specific skill enhancement. There is need for further communication, and potentially, a workshop on institutional expectations. While the topic is of interest for tenured and tenure-track faculty, focus should be placed on informing adjuncts and new and first year returning faculty as these instructors are often charged with the delivery of the GEP. Send UUCR proposals back to departments to refresh memories. Courses need to be reconciled with institutional expectations to interrelate course goals and expectations with GEP Learning Goals and Core Skills. This shall lead to internal departmental reviews of syllabi, learning goals, and student outcomes for GEP courses. Course proposals for GEP inclusion that predate UUCR’s institution may be more difficult to locate and distribute, therefore it is necessary to encourage departments to revisit these courses and use this internal review to improve and update teaching and learning.
Observations and Recommendations Phase II Level of Departmental Participation Fewer course portfolios were submitted for review during Phase II. The target was 30 to 40. Only 26 were submitted. Departments cited 1) the desire not to burden PTNTT and FTNTT faculty with such a task, and 2) the review of their GEP offerings during Phase I. Some departments ignored the call for participation even though they had GEP offerings that had not yet been assessed and were taught by tenured and tenure-track faculty. (Ironically, the three submitted courses that were taught by PTNTTs all were rated as “Above Standards”. The course taught by a FTNTT was rated as “Meets Standards”.) In respect to the latter point, as evidenced in this report, students attain levels of fluency and proficiency in courses throughout their academic careers; therefore, departments were encouraged to submit portfolios of upper-level disciplinary courses. Recommendations • During Phase III, 30 to 40 courses will be assessed. The Assistant Dean of CLAS will work with deans of the colleges to enlist more participation. Strategies will also be devised to directly recruit faculty who may be interested. • Courses that were evaluated as “Below Standards” during Phase II will be reassessed. • No courses from Phase I or Phase II will be repeated. • Departments that have exhausted their GEP offerings, or do not offer GEP courses, will assess courses within the major programs that focus on core skill enhancement through disciplinary instruction.
Phase II con’t Campus Awareness of Learning Goals and Assessment Mechanisms • During Phase II, faculty seemed to be more aware of BOR, MHEC, and institutional expectations in respect to Learning Goals and the need to develop students’ Core Skills. More of the submitted syllabi included direct reference to institutional and GEP Learning Goals. This may have been due to the wide distribution of the Report from Phase I and/or the increase in campus-wide discussions of assessment on the college and institutional levels. So, while there is need for further discussion, especially on the level of the academic department and focused on adjuncts and new and first year returning faculty, the campus community is becoming acclimated to an institutional model that is focused on assessment. Recommendations • The Assistant Dean will conduct a TASTE workshop targeted to incoming and returning faculty on the topic of institutional learning goals, Core Skills, assessment, and compiling the course portfolio.
Capstones A capstone experience is defined as a course, project, or presentation with variable credits that can be used as the locus for assessment of students’ learning in his/her selected major. The learning goals of a capstone experience should reflect the learning goals for the major. However, some general expectations should be considered “universal,” as reflected in the following basic tenets. Upon the successful completion of a capstone course, a student should be able to • Demonstrate appropriatetypes of learning in the major through a specific set of requirements (e.g., thesis, oral presentation, portfolio, performance, or internship); • Demonstrate, where appropriate,the inherent interdisciplinarity found in the major through connections made to the learning objectives of the program of general education; • Demonstrate the attainment of discipline-specific levels of technology and information fluency; • Demonstrate an understanding of principles and practicesappropriate to entering a profession related to the discipline.
College of Liberal Arts and SciencesAssessment Standards Program Goals. Program goals should be clearly stated. There should be some correlation with institutional learning goals. Goals should be stated in the form of action objectives. Assessment Tool(s). What methods are used? Examples of assessment tools include: scoring guides or rubrics, homegrown assignments, published instruments, homegrown objective tests, evaluation of student portfolios, conducting surveys, focus groups, and interviews, and evaluation of student self-reflection. The sample size must be stated. Data Collection. How is data collected, and how can it be accessed? Summaries for data already collected should be documented and included in periodic assessment reports. Who Performs Assessment? Assessment can be performed by the faculty member teaching the course, a group of faculty members, an assigned individual, or everyone in the department. Timeframe for Assessment. How often does assessment occur? Does it occur sporadically, or is it consistent? Is it annual, semi-annual, or bi-annual? If so, does it occur at a specified time of the year (i.e. at the end of the semester)? Courses Being Assessed. What is being assessed and when? Departments should develop a schedule of assessment for courses in their program(s). Benchmarks. What is considered acceptable? In the case of rubrics, achieving “meets standards” in all categories could be a satisfactory benchmark. In the case of using a published instrument, a score at or above the national average can be considered a benchmark. Closing the Loop. The department should indicate how it will use assessment data. Is data reviewed consistently? Are recommendations being made to improve the program or facilitate student learning?
Measuring Vertical, Horizontal, and Longitudinal • Objectives • Discuss Frostburg State University’s different approaches. • Present Frostburg State University's institutional assessment practices. • Examine how Frostburg’s campus community uses the results.
Institutional Model Impacted by Analytics Evidence Based Practices (EBP)
Basic Elements of Institutional Effectiveness • Strategic Planning • Situational Analysis • Articulated Mission • Articulated Vision • Articulated Core Values • Articulated Goals • Articulated Objectives • Student Learning Assessment Plan • Outcome Reporting
Assessment System360 Degree Process Goals Mission Vision Measurement Analytics
Frostburg State University • Environment • Federal • State • Accreditation • Campus • Governance Measurement • Campus Leadership • Decision Making • Resources • Change Mechanism Measurement • Process • Work Flow • Program Review Systems • Information systems • Campus Structure • Culture • Attitudes • Report • NSSE • CLA • ASQ • Climate Survey • Program Review • Manage for Results • Inputs • Human Assets • Budget • Infrastructure • Constituents • Do • Act on Results • Revise Programs • Resources Development • Communication Measurement Measurement
Process Flow Details This diagram illustrates the assessment model. It displays the operational level of the process that occurs at both the institutional and unit level. The institutional strategic plan articulates broad institutional strategic priorities grounded within the boundaries of mission, while unit level operational plans articulate unit specific goals and strategies related to these priorities. At both the institutional and unit level, the articulation of measurable outcomes assists the university in assessing progress and making improvements. It is recognized that this is not a block step vertical process and should be used as a fluid multi-dimensional model. The Process Flow is designed to guide and provide a structure for evaluation of effectiveness and use of the results. The institution and units will be encouraged to regularly review its assessment process and make needed modification at the conclusion of the assessment cycle.
System • Conducts ongoing planning and resource allocation based on your mission and goals, develops objectives, and utilizes the results of assessment Evidence Based Practices. • Implementation measurements of the strategic plan and resource allocation. • Support the development and change necessary to improve and to maintain system .
How to Use Your Tool Box • ACTION (PROBLEMS AND OPPORTUNITIES) • PROBLEMS AND OPPORTUNITIES ARE CLEARLY IDENTIFIED. • PROBLEMS AND OPPORTUNITIES ARE DEFINED AND EXPLAINED MAKING USE OF AVAIL ABLE CASE EVIDENCE. • AN EFFORT IS MADE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN (AMONG) PROBLEMS AND SYMPTOMS. • IDENTIFY AND RANK ALTERNATIVES • IDENTIFY AND RANK ALTERNATIVES CONSIDERING RESOURCES, CAUSALITY, AND DESIRABILITY OF OUTCOMES. • ALTERNATIVE WAYS/MEANS OF ADDRESSING PROBLEMS AND OPPORTUNITIES ARE IDENTIFIED. • THESE WAYS/MEANS ARE EXPLAINED TO SHOW HOW THEY RESPOND TO THE PROBLEMS AND OPPORTUNITIES. • EACH OF THE FEATURES OF EACH OF THE ALTERNATIVES IS EXPLAINED. • ALTERNATIVES ARE REASONABLE (COST, TIME, INFLUENCE). • NEGATIVE FEATURES, SIDE--EFFECTS, ETC., OF ALTERNATIVES; ARE IDENTIFIED AND EXPLORED. • SELECT AND ALTERNATIVE, ACT UPON IT (CRITERIA) • DECISION CRITERIA ARE IDENTIFIED. • THE CRITERIA ARE CLEARLY RELATED TO THE ALTERNATIVES; IDENTIFIED. • THE CRITERIA FOR MAKING JUDGEMENTS ABOUT THE DESIRABILITY OF VARIOUS ALTERNATIVES (COST, TIME TO PUT IN "LATE, ETC.) AS IS PRACTICAL IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES. • THE CRITERIA ARE APPLIED TO THE ALTERNATIVES IN A REALITIC MANNER. • APPLICATION OF THE CRITERIA YIELDS A "BEST" OR MOST. • APPROPRIATE COURSE OF ACTION. • VALIDATE AND DEFEND ACTION (IMPLEMENTATION AND FEEDBACK) • THE DETAILS OF THE COURSE OF ACTION ARE PRESENTED. • THE IMPLEMENTATION AND MANAGEMENT OF THE COURSE OF ACTION IS EXPLAINED. • EXPECTED OUTCOMES ARE IDENTIFIED, AS WELL AS AN EXPLANATION OF HOW PERFORMANCE IS TO BE MEASURED.
The Role of Data • Information must reduce uncertainty. • Information must add value to your academy. • The more important the situation, the more power of the information.
Barriers to Quality Information • Identify and Measure Concepts. • Collect and Store Data. • Restructure and Analyze Facts. • Deliver and Report Information. • Use and Influence Knowledge.
Identify and Measure • What does the Academy really need to know? • Identify the facts, both qualitative and quantitative. • What are the essential components of this information? • Measures of key performance indicators are effective, efficiency, timely, and reliable.
Collect and Store Data • Corresponding data must be collect and stored. • Systematically capture external data. • Data must be consistent.
Restructure and Analyze Facts • Reduce the amount data to a comprehensive level for decision makers. • What is the intended use. • Integrates multiple threads of information.
Report Information • Interpreting the information in context • Report must focus on the needs of the user. • Information must inform decisions makers on current and future situations.
Ongoing • The assessment of institutional priorities and goals is conducted through the work of the PACIE and the University’s implementation of the Performance Accountability Report/Managing for Results (PAR/MFR) report. • The council will assist in the future development of the University's strategic plan and will monitor its implementation and progress based on Middle States standards and measures of effectiveness. • The University’s PAR/MFR goals reflect the FSU strategic plan and the progress toward their attainment is monitored by the University and reported annually to the Maryland Higher Education Commission, the University System of Maryland, and the Maryland Department of Budget and Management.
Ongoing The assessment of academic programming involves the evaluation of both campus-wide curricular offerings as well as the University’s undergraduate academic programs. Frostburg State University’s undergraduate academic programs are assessed through the Periodic Program Review process, which is required by the University System of Maryland, and obligates programs to evaluate the learning outcomes of their students and the relationship between their programs and the University’s mission. External program accreditation for a number of FSU’s programs also involves an extensive review of curriculum, faculty, budget, facilities, library, and student learning outcomes.
Ongoing • The assessment of student learning outcomes takes place within each of the University’s colleges. • The Professional Education Unit of the College of Education has a comprehensive assessment system in place to document candidates’ successful completion of program outcomes. The Unit’s Conceptual Framework provides goals for all of its programs and is consistently used by faculty as a guide for redesigning programs, syllabi, assessments, and early field and intern evaluation forms. • The College of Business maintains a comprehensive assessment program that links the mission of the college to the University’s mission. Its Assurance of Learning Committee evaluates student achievement relative to learning goals using both direct and indirect methods. • In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), each academic program has developed learning goals and has begun to implement its student learning assessment plan.
Resource Allocation • Has the discussion of what distinguishes a “strategic initiative” from an “operational necessity” occurred? • Is there a regular and systematic process that attempts to provide reasonable resources to facilitate achieving intended outcomes? • Are these processes transparent and participatory? • Are the number of “strategic initiatives” to be achieved each year reasonable given available financial and human resources? • Have the initiatives been prioritized? • Has the potential impact of multiple-year initiatives been taken into consideration?
Supports the Change Necessary to Improve & Maintain Quality • Articulate a “progress of improvements” that can be tied back to the “influence” of the assessment process? • Do the outcomes achieved move the Academy closer to achieving its mission and goals?
Feedback • Accomplishments • Innovations • Clear articulated resource allocation process • Regular reporting progress • Suggestion • Meeting standard but …. • Provide additional opportunities for input • Publish progress/results • Adjust the budget calendar
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