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Natural ScienceThe 2007-2008 assessment results showed that more than 80% of the more than 2000 students assessed met or exceeded expectations. Based on these results, the natural science general education committee concluded that no changes in the N/ offerings or assessment plan were warranted.
"It is time for the Social Social Science Core to be revised. The basic leaning outcomes in the Social Science Core were established in 1998. They include the three outcomes assessed plus the writing requirement. A number of departments in the Social Science Core would like to see the writing requirement eliminated. When the college changes from a five course student load to a four course student load, the general education requirements will have to be revised. We should take this opportunity to use the evidence from the assessments to revise the Social Science Core to reflect the new situation and current practice."
Because the discussion of the switch from a five course to a four course load is incomplete and unclear, we did not pursue these three items in need of revision
- Number of courses in the social science core, 2 or 1
- Writing requirement , or not
- Clarification of the learning outcome on methods of social science
All three items depend on the structure of general education and will wait for some resolution of that before the loop will be finally closed. The last item is most closely linked to our assessment. Teaching of the methods of social science is not taught consistently or consistently well across the courses in the social science core. This in turn is related to the definition of a "social science" course. Making the methods of social science learning outcome stronger, implies that some courses currently in the social science core may not belong there.
Closing the loop in social science core must proceed along with revision of the general education curriculum for the college.
Reflection provided by Beverly Evans, Western Humanities chair
Outcomes 1, 2 and 3
Assessment results have improved since 2003-2004, for at least three reasons: 1) faculty have focused on what the intended learning outcomes imply and have sought, as time and resources have permitted, to ensure that instruction would become more and more effective; 2) faculty have become more familiar with assessment rubrics and with assessment in general; 3) the college has become more and more selective, which has resulted in a somewhat stronger academic profile for each entering class.
Outcome 4: "consider moral, social, and political issues from an interdisciplinary perspective."
In response to stated 2006-2007 goals for improvement, faculty have been encouraged, specifically, during end-of-semester meetings, to develop assignments that “required students to demonstrate interdisciplinary thinking.” In fact, since the program's inception, new faculty members have been required to team-teach, and be mentored by, an instructor from a discipline other than their own the first time they teach each course. We recently reinstituted the practice of holding faculty forums that focus on particular authors, works, or intellectual movements. During these gatherings, colleagues can formally share insights from their own disciplinary specializations, which should, at least theoretically, enable instructors from other disciplines to expand the interdisciplinary scope of their classes. As noted in the 2008-2009 report, the assessment results for Outcome 4 were still disappointing. Therefore, it is to be hoped that, as more faculty attend more of these forums, the interdisciplinary nature of classes will be enhanced, thus improving future outcome results.
In both 2003-2004 and 2006-2007, it was suggested that assignment sharing by faculty might be a useful practice to help all instructors improve upon results for Outcome 4. When this has been discussed at faculty meetings, the issue of intellectual property rights has been cited as a reason that instructors should not be expected (let alone required) to participate. In fact, there has even been opposition to posting syllabi in a password-protected location. No solution has been found to satisfy those who resist the formal sharing of such information. Of course, nothing prevents individual faculty members from informally sharing ideas for assignments and examinations with their colleagues. Many people have always done that, at least occasionally.
Rate of submission of assessment results
We continue to have many instructors who simply do not submit assessment results. This problem has been discussed on numerous occasions, both during the end-of-semester meetings of all Western Humanities faculty and at Western Humanities Committee meetings. In 2008-2009, this was the case for 50% of FT faculty. It has been observed that PT employees, who make up a quarter of Humn 220 and 221 instructors, “almost never respond.” It is understandable that few PT faculty provide assessment results, given the extremely low salary for teaching these very demanding courses. However, FT faculty need to be enjoined (one hesitates to say “required”) to participate more actively in the assessment process. It remains to be seen how continual urging might produce a higher response rate. Everyone carries a heavy teaching, advisement, and committee load, and faculty also find themselves having to take on more and more tasks with every passing year, for a variety of reasons. It is hard to say what kind of incentive might generate a greater response.
The Big Picture
As the College may be making a shift from offering primarily 3-credit courses to offering mostly 4-credit courses, many program-related matters remain somewhat on hold until a decision is announced. The Western Humanities faculty has discussed on many occasions possible new directions for the courses, as well as what those new directions might imply, in intellectual terms, and necessitate, in practical terms. It seems likely that some of the new directions the course might take could improve student performance with respect to interdisciplinary thinking. This would probably also be the case as concerns the other three intended learning outcomes. Once an institutional determination about the above-mentioned possible transition has been reached, Western Humanities faculty will be able to move forward more decisively to continue closing the loop.
Critical Writing and Reading
The data from 2004-2005 demonstrates that approximately 50% of the students were meeting or exceeding standards for writing and revising coherent texts. By 2008-2009, this number has improved marginally through such efforts as:
1) individual faculty mentoring by the CWR Co-Chairs (including providing sample syllabi and assignments to new instructors, reviewing course syllabi, text and reading selections, advising on best teaching practices and grading standards and methods)
2) the expansion of library support to include plagiarism and more discipline-focused research workshops
3) the enhancement of the Writing Learning Center in Milne Library (including additional tutor training in ESOL, learning disabilities and stress management)
4) productive pedagogy discussions sponsored by the Teaching Learning Center
Based on the positive feedback following the summer workshops, there is no doubt that the return of such workshops would be welcomed by Intd.105 instructors and productive in improving the student assessment scores still further. Additionally, smaller class sizes would permit the individualized attention that coherent writing and meaningful revision require.
Closing the loop on these learning outcomes is especially difficult. Four of the five learning outcomes that Geneseo assesses are not taught by Milne Library, who is responsible for assessing the outcomes. Although Milne Librarians generally work with most INTD 105 classes, their sessions are more focused on research skills (Information Management outcome #4), and the INTD 105 course itself focuses on writing skills rather than computer skills.
Learning Outcomes in Information Management
Students will demonstrate the ability to
- Identify, access, and use the basic operating system features of a personal computer.
- Identify, access, and operate the appropriate software for a given task.
- Access and navigate the Intranet.
- Access, navigate, and evaluate information and resources on the Internet.
- Use a computer to communicate with others.
Because Milne Library's in-class efforts are focused on outcome #4, our closing the loop efforts have also been aimed at this goal. To this end, Milne Librarians have taken the following actions:
- Developed goals and objectives for the one-shot session the librarians teach in INTD 105 classes
- Conducted a pre- and post-assessment during the 2008-2009 school year, in order to determine the skill level of our entering students
- Revised our goals and objectives based on the 2008-2009 assessment to better meet the needs of students regarding their skills with accessing, navigating and evaluating information resources.
In addition, we also encourage INTD 105 faculty to include more than one library session, allowing us to reinforce certain skills and introduce additional skills to students.
There is some need for a discussion about how the campus teaches and assesses the information management learning outcomes. For example, outcome #3 asks students to navigate the Intranet. Does this refer to the Geneseo wiki? Does this refer to in and out boxes? And who is responsible for teaching students these skills?
Also, we may want to evaluate whether or not the freshman level (INTD 105) is the right place to evaluate these skills.