Faculty Senate Resolution #08-21
Approved by the Faculty Senate: April 22, 2008
ACCEPTED by the Chancellor as NON-BINDING: August 13, 2008 (link to response)
Editorially revised by the Academic Standards Committee: September 24, 2008
Guidelines for Outcome Assessment of Foundations Courses
Before setting out the general procedures to be followed in doing Outcomes Assessment on Foundations Courses, it is useful to review the purpose of the Foundations Curriculum at ECU, as stated in the approved Foundations Goals document. It should be noted, however, that as UNC Tomorrow is implemented, there could be added required assessment goals. Because of the pending Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) reaffirmation, it is necessary that we begin to assess Foundation Curriculum courses now so that there is a body of assessment data to present to the SACS investigation team.
The overarching goal of the Liberal Arts Foundations Curriculum is to provide students with the fundamental knowledge and abilities essential to their living worthwhile lives both private and public. The Foundations curriculum reflects the faculty’s belief that the best way to prepare students for living worthwhile lives is to provide them with a solid foundation in the core disciplines (the Humanities, Arts, Basic Sciences, and Basic Social-Sciences), in conjunction with a multi-disciplinary education in the specific areas of health promotion and physical activity and mastery of writing and mathematics competencies. Together, these disciplines provide the core knowledge base in which all other scholarship is grounded, including applied disciplinary, multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary scholarship. The foundations curriculum thus exists to provide a common, unified body of knowledge and skills to students who will major in widely different subjects and who come from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Foundations courses have the following learning objectives:
1. Students shall master the subject matter of one or more of the disciplines in each of the four core areas (Humanities, Arts, Basic Sciences, basic Social Sciences).
2. Students shall master the research methods utilized in one or more of the disciplines in each core area.
3. Students shall master the relevance of scholarship in the discipline to the matters outside the discipline
4. In the required multi-disciplinary areas (Health Promotion and Physical Activity) and competency areas (writing and mathematics), students must meet the knowledge and performance Foundations goals specific to each of these areas.
Outcomes Assessment of Foundations Courses
1. What is Outcomes Assessment?
The purpose of outcomes assessment is enhancing quality. Assessment shall improve student learning by improving the quality of Foundations courses.
Outcomes Assessment for quality enhancement is an ongoing, standard operating procedure. Outcomes assessment for quality enhancement requires (1) assessing learning outcomes to identify where improvements in quality are needed or possible, (2) implementing steps to enhance quality, (3) assessing learning outcomes to determine if quality was enhanced and (4) repeating this cycle for new areas and/or for the same areas as appropriate.
ECU is required to document its Outcomes Assessment activities. Hence assessment activities must at each stage yield results that can be documented. Standard approaches to this utilize course-embedded assessment, pre-and-post testing, assessment of student portfolios, assessment of student theses and assessment via direct observations of performance.
2. Who conducts Outcomes
Assessment of courses earning Foundations credit?
Every department or school responsible for offering one or more courses for Foundations credit.
3. Which courses are assessed?
At least one section of each course whether face-to-face or by distance education at the 1000 and 2000 level offered for foundation credit or 20% of the sections of courses with multiple sections, whichever is greater.
4. How often?
Follow the page 4 timeline found in the revised document of the Office of Accreditations and Assessment entitled “Overview of Assessment Reporting for 2008-09: Academic Programs 2 September 2008.”
5. What must be assessed?
Assessment activities determine if improvements can be made in student learning outcomes that address course information content or behavioral tasks. Outcomes Assessment must evaluate student knowledge and skills with respect to information or tasks that fall under each of the three general goals for the each category.
6. How many learning outcomes per course must be
At least one assessment is needed for each Foundations goal. (See appendices at the end of this document for examples.) While none of the assessment examples in the appendices includes a portfolio as an assessment tool, it would be acceptable as long as it assesses foundation curriculum goals. A variety of approaches to learning outcomes assessment are acceptable. Some of these will be emphasized by the SACS committee on Foundations assessment in the Fall of 2008 and later.
7. Who determines the assessment methods used, who determines what constitutes a need for improvement, who conducts assessments, who identifies learning outcomes that need improvement, who determines how to make improvements, who implements attempts to improve and assesses attempts to improve?
Faculty in units offering Foundation Curriculum courses will, in consultation with the unit administrator or his appointee, determine the assessments method(s) (see the appendices for examples). The goals to be assessed are the appropriate Foundation Curriculum goals. The faculty member(s) or an appointee are responsible for conducting the assessment of the unit’s Foundation Curriculum courses based on the agreed up method(s). Once the assessment results are tabulated, the unit’s faculty, in consultation with the unit administrator or his appointee, will identify the learning outcomes and determine needed improvements. It is the responsibility of the faculty to improve the Foundation Curriculum courses based on the outcomes assessment.
The name of the chair and faculty members of the foundation curriculum committee assessing foundation courses are to be submitted to the Office of Accreditations and Assessment by September 30, 2008. Other timeline dates and instructions of the Office of Accreditations and Assessment revised document entitled “Overview of Assessment Reporting for 2008-09: Academic Programs 2 September 2008” are to be followed.
8. What must be made available to the
administration in the form of a published report?
Follow the timeline and instructions for submitting results found in the revised document of the office of Accreditations and Assessment entitled “Overview of Assessment Reporting for 2008-09: Academic Programs 2 September 2008.”
9. What is to be done with the report given to
The administration will decide what is to be done with the results.
10. What record keeping will be required by each
program conducting Outcomes Assessment of Foundations courses?
A copy of all reports generated by the program for the previous six academic years and a copy of all materials used to conduct assessment in the future will be on file in the department carrying out the assessment.
Appendix A: The Humanities
Outcomes Assessment in the Humanities, for example, must evaluate student knowledge and skills with respect to information or tasks that fall under each of the three general goals for the Humanities. Philosophy is presented here as an example.
Here are three examples of specific learning outcomes that a philosophy might assesses in order to see if improvements in student learning are needed.
Goal 1. Students will
learn the subject matter of at least one discipline in the humanities.
What is the student’s knowledge of a Mill’s theory of morality.
Goal 2. Students will
learn the research methodology applied by disciplines in the humanities.
What is the student’s ability to write a coherent justification for a moral judgment.
Goal 3. Students will
learn about the discipline’s contribution to general knowledge.
What is the student’s knowledge of how discoveries in moral theory impact on the recommendations made by hospital ethics committees.
Appendix B: Social Science Example
Outcomes Assessment in the Social Sciences, for example, must evaluate student knowledge and skills with respect to information or tasks that fall under each of the three general goals for the Social Sciences. Anthropology is used as an example of outcomes assessment for the social sciences (biological anthropology is excluded from social science outcome assessment).
Anthropology will use embedded multiple choice question administered the first day of class and embedded in the final but will not count toward the final grade on the final. It is expected that 70% of the students will answer 70% of the embedded multiple choice questions on the final correctly. The same questions will be asked the beginning of the class and embedded on the final.
Goal 1. Students will learn the subject matter of at least one discipline in the basic social sciences.
1. Which of the following is NOT one of the characteristics of culture?
a. culture is learned
b. culture is shared
c. culture is inherited
d. culture is constantly changing
2. One of the key features that makes anthropology unique from other social sciences is that:
a. Anthropology studies human behavior
b. Anthropology takes a holistic perspective
c. Anthropology has lots of subfields
d. None of the above
Goal 2. Students will learn the research methodology, principles and concepts required to understand and conduct undergraduate-level research in the social sciences.
1. The main research method used by cultural anthropologists or ethnologists is:
a. statistical comparisons
b. controlled excavations
c. participant observation
d. skeletal analysis
2. Statistical tests of significance can help us to:
a. measure variables
b. prove theories
c. determine the level of importance we should attach to a theoretical construct
d. determine whether our results are attributable to chance
Goal 3. Students will about the discipline’s contribution to general knowledge.
1. The study of anthropology may be useful for all of the following EXCEPT:
a. helping us avoid misunderstandings between people
b. giving us a better understanding of humankind
c. helping us determine which culture traits are the best
d. giving us a sense of humility about our own culture’s failings
2 Now that you have completed this course, what would you say is the relevance of anthropology in today's world?
a. the discipline helps us understand what human behaviors are shared as a result of our common biological nature and what variations are produced by culture
b. the discipline helps us avoid misunderstandings between peoples that arise from cultural differences
c. the discipline combats racism by demonstrating that physical differences between groups are the results of adaptations to the environment and are not markers of intellectual inferiority
d. exposure to anthropology helps individuals identify their ethnocentric assumptions and therefore promotes tolerance
e. all of the above
Appendix C: Basic Sciences Example
Outcomes Assessment in the Basic Sciences, for example, must evaluate student knowledge and skills with respect to information or tasks that fall under each of the three general goals for the Basic Sciences. Physics is used as an example of outcomes assessment for the Basic Sciences.
Physics will administer a multiple-choice pretest on the first day of class, and the questions from the pretest will be embedded in the final examination. It is expected that the average scores on the outcomes assessment questions in the final examination will be greater than the average scores of the same questions on the pretest. Furthermore, it is expected that the students will answer 70% of the outcomes assessment questions on the final examination correctly.
Goal 1. Students will learn the subject matter of at least one core discipline in the Basic Sciences.
Sample questions (the correct answers are underlined)
1. What are the four fundamental forces?
a. Gravitational, Electric, Magnetic, and Nuclear.
b. Centripetal, Frictional, Contact, and Gravitational.
c. Strong Nuclear, Weak Nuclear, Frictional, and Chemical.
d. Gravitational, Electromagnetic, Strong Nuclear, and Weak Nuclear.
2. Energy is
I. The ability to do work.
II. An abstract quantity with many different forms.
III. Always conserved for an isolated system.
a. I only. b. II only. c. III only. d. I and III. e. I, II, and III.
Goal 2. Students will learn the research methodology, principles and concepts required to understand and conduct undergraduate-level research in a basic science.
1. What could we do if an experimental result violates our scientific hypothesis?
I. Reject the hypothesis.
II. Modify the hypothesis to correctly explain the result.
III. Accept the hypothesis by treating the result as an isolated occurrence.
a. I only. b. II only. c. III only. d. I or II. e. I, II, or III.
2. What distinguishes science from other areas of learning?
a. The use of mathematics.
b. Experimentation as the ultimate test of truth.
c. No prior assumptions.
d. The use of technology.
Goal 3. Students will learn about the discipline’s contribution to general knowledge.
1. A scientific theory is
a. A well-tested and verified hypothesis.
b. An unproven hypothesis.
c. An educated guess.
d. The result of a single experiment.
2. How can you describe energy use in the United States during the last 100 years?
a. We have used energy at a constant rate.
b. Our energy use has increased at a constant rate.
c. Our energy use has increased exponentially.
d. Our energy use increased every year until 2001, when it began to decrease.
e. Our energy use has increased in some years and decreased in others, with the net result being a slight increase.