Skip to main content

Assessment

The Honors College assesses two categories of student learning: BA curriculum and core curriculum. The Assessment Director works closely with the University’s Office of Assessment and works to follow best practices in all areas, including design of assessment tools; collection of data; and analysis of data for adjusting and improving teaching.


Student Learning Outcomes for the BA:

Upon completion of the major the student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate effective written communication.
  2. Demonstrate effective oral communication.
  3. Apply critical thinking to problems and topics.
  4. Apply creative thinking to problems and topics.
  5. Connect knowledge, technology, and skill from different disciplines to address a problem or topic. 

Assessment Cycle for the BA:

  • Every year: the Honors College will assess SLOs 1 (written communication), 3, 4 (applying critical and creative thinking), and 5 (integration). Beginning in 2015-16.
  • Every three years: the Honors College will assess SLO 2 (oral communication). Beginning in 2017-18.

Process for assessing and reviewing the BA:

  • SLOs 1, 3, 4, and 5 will be assessed in essays in the 100- and 400-level courses.
  • SLO 5 will also be assessed by a questionnaire in the 100-level Legacy classes and in the senior exit questionnaires.
  • SLO 2 will be assessed in all the 300-level classes (every three years).
  • Every class involved in assessment will turn its data in to Renee Faubion. After collating the data she will lead a faculty meeting to discuss the results and any changes that need to be made to courses or the program.


Student Learning Outcomes for Core Curriculum:

Humanities:

Once students successfully complete this course, they will be able to:

  1. Analyze, critically interpret, and evaluate primary works within the humanities;
  2. Evaluate how some key works in the humanities reflect either a historical period, or national, cultural, ethnic or gender issues;
  3. Compare how these key works invoke shared human experiences that may relate to readers and the world today;
  4. Construct persuasive arguments and increase writing proficiency through analytical essays characterized by original and insightful theses, supported by logically integrated and sound subordinate ideas, appropriate and pertinent evidence, and good sentence structure, diction, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Writing and Speaking:

Once students successfully complete this course, they will be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate a variety of written and spoken messages in order to make informed decisions;
  2. Organize their thinking to express their viewpoints clearly, concisely, and effectively;
  3. Select and use the best means to deliver a particular message to a particular audience (Rhetorical strategies include but are not limited to modes, genres, media and technology, and graphics);
  4. Gather legitimate information to support their ideas without plagiarizing, misinforming, or distorting;
  5. Engage in reasoned civic discourse to accomplish their goals and to function as responsible citizens.

Social and Behavioral Sciences:

Once students successfully complete this course, they will be able to:

  1. Define social science and articulate how approaches vary across the disciplines;
  2. Demonstrate a toolkit of social scientific theories and concepts;
  3. Examine empirical evidence using social science methods;
  4. Apply the theories and methods of the social sciences to identify, describe, and explain human behaviors and to critically evaluate how these behaviors are influenced by and influence social structure and the environment.

Physical and Natural Sciences:

Once students successfully complete this course, they will be able to:

  1. Understand the scientific method and how it is practiced by the disciplines represented in this theme;
  2. Apply the scientific method and scientific techniques appropriate to the theme of the course to address problems;
  3. Communicate the results of scientific analyses.

Mathematics:

Once students successfully complete this course, they will be able to demonstrate:

  1. Competence in mathematical problem solving;
  2. Competence in written mathematical communication;
  3. Competence in oral mathematical communication;
  4. Competence with symbolic and visual forms of mathematical communication.

Fine Arts:

Once students successfully complete this course, they will be able to:

  1. Analyze and critically interpret significant works of art;
  2. Compare art forms, modes of thought and expression, and processes across a range of historical periods and/or structures (such as political, geographic, social, cultural, and intellectual);
  3. Develop strong communication skills, oral and written, when describing, analyzing and comparing works of art;
  4. Identify, analyze and apply criteria for making aesthetic judgments.

Three-year cycle of assessment for core courses.

Year 1: Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences - All legacy courses and all the social and behavioral courses should be assessed.

Year 2: Writing and Speaking and Mathematics - All 200-level courses in these areas need to be assessed.

Year 3: Physical and Natural Sciences and Fine Arts - All 200-level courses in these areas need to be assessed.


Writing student-learning outcomes, SLOs, for Honors courses:

The Honors College faculty have already written some SLOs (for the core courses at the 100 and 200 levels). When this is the case, it is required that everyone teaching those particular courses includes them in their teaching and on the syllabus. Please also adapt them to the particular topic of the course. You might do this by inserting a phrase in the SLO. For example, if the SLO says students will learn critical thinking one might add, “students will apply critical thinking to controversies in human rights.” You may also want to add additional SLOs appropriate to your course.

Courses that already have SLOs (on the website):

  • Legacy courses: all legacies are a Humanities core course so they use the Humanities SLOs.
  • All 200 courses which count as a core course have SLOs on the website: writing and speaking, mathematics, physical and natural sciences, social and behavioral sciences, fine arts, humanities.
  • Forthcoming: by 2017-18, 300-level courses will be expected to assess the program student-learning outcome for oral communication. As a result, all 300-level courses must contain one or two SLOs about the ability to communicate orally required for all 300 level courses.

Guidelines for courses which do not have SLOs already written:

Every syllabus must have student-learning outcomes. Every course should also be teaching 1-3 of the five program SLOs (listed on the website). Therefore, faculty can modify one or more of the program SLOs for their syllabus. For example, program SLO #1 states: “Upon completion of the program students will demonstrate effective written communication.” This SLO could be adapted to your syllabus by stating, “Upon completion of this class, students will be able to effectively communicate sociological theories in writing.”

Tips for writing new SLOs:

  • Student learning outcomes need not summarize everything you want to accomplish in the course. They are meant to provide some measurable guidelines for your students.
  • Since they need to be measured/assessed you do not want to have too many. Four to six is usually an adequate number of SLOs.
  • Also since they need to be measured they should have an active verb in the sentence. For example, “Upon completion of this course students will be able to define important concepts in archaeology.” Define is measurable. Avoid verbs such as appreciate since that is deemed unmeasurable in the context of assessment.
  • It is expected that a range of skills will be represented in a set of SLOs. Refer to Bloom’s taxonomy for a scale and a list of accompanying verbs. That is, in addition to requiring students to memorize something, faculty might also require the higher order skill of analyzing something.

Good SLOs facilitate clarity in course goals, content, and evaluation. They help students understand what is expected of them. They also facilitate fairness in grading, and allow the faculty to determine which activities and materials are effective or not. (adapted from Designing and Assessing Courses and Curricula: A Practical Guide, R. Diamond)


Calendar of Annual Assessment Activities

Fall semester: All legacy and 400-level classes do assessments.

December 1-23: Honors’ Director of Assessment collects assessments from all faculty involved.

Honors Director of Assessment writes the annual assessment report for the current year. It then goes to the CARC to be scored on the maturity rubric, and those two documents are given to the Dean who writes the State of Assessment Report. (This annual report is not due until the following December but Honors will write it immediately upon collecting the data.)

Last year’s annual assessment report is due in sharepoint with notification to the Office of Assessment that it is there.

Spring semester: The selected core courses do assessment.

At the end of the semester the Honors Director of Assessment collects the data and writes the “General Education/Core Course-Level Assessment Report”. There is one for each core being assessed. CARC reviews.

Reports are uploaded to sharepoint. Report gets sent to the Office of Assessment the following September.

Each time the scheduling is done for the following semester, the courses that need to do assessment are to be notified.