CANs List

Curriculum Action Notice


From:

Academic Affairs Committee

Date:

September 10, 2002

This is a bulletin from the Academic Affairs Committee concerning proposed curriculum actions. Within the next 10 days, please forward any comments or concerns to the AAC Chair, Helen Biblehimer, Elliott Hall 203, ext. 4521, hbiblehi@mnsfld.edu.

The General Education Subcommittee has submitted an alternate General Education assessment plan which utilizes standardized tests to assess the general education program.

 

This proposal plus any others submitted by faculty for consideration will be discussed at the Faculty Assembly to be held on September 20, 2002 at 3:30.

SINCE THIS ASSESSMENT PLAN WILL AFFECT ALL WHO TEACH GENERAL EDUCATION COURSES IT IS STRONGLY SUGGESTED THAT YOU READ EACH ASSESSMENT PLAN CAREFULLY.

 

GEN ED SUBCOMMITTEE, GEN ED ASSESSMENT METHOD: STANDARDIZED TESTING

 

PROCEDURE: Randomly sample a cohort of students, say new freshmen (as freshmen, sophomore, etc.) to obtain a representative group for testing purposes

Have students take from 1-5 different standardized tests representing common general education areas:

 

ACT TEST

MU GE OUTCOME

Writing:

  • Grammar
  • Writing

communication

Math

problem solving and analytical

Science reasoning

problem solving and analytical

Critical thinking

critical thinking and analytical

Reading

communication

Pay $10.95 per student per assessment test. Receive a discount for doing two or more tests ($17.00). The writing test costs $10.95 and is not part of the combined package deal. ACT testing fee=$330.

Total minimum costs of no more than $11,310 assuming 400 students taking 4 tests plus the writing test (($27.95*400)+$11,510=).

 

Advantages

  • Quick start-up time
  • Not costly in terms of $ and resources (Vendor provides tests and evaluation of results)
  • Inter-college comparisons possible
  • Pre-post testing possible to investigate program-driven changes
  • Flexibility--piecemeal, staggered format possible, for ex. test critical thinking on one cohort and then writing on another cohort the following year
  • Size of sample can be reduced or increased depending on the budget (60-70 students minimum)
  • Specific groups of students can be tested for example all new freshmen who have completed College Writing 101.
  • Data can be linked electronically to other institutional records to provide additional information (retention, graduation)
  • Scores can be given to the individual students for their knowledge/benefit; Certificates to top achievers
  • Copy of scores and interpretation is available to provide to student advisors
  • Relatively small burden on students
  • No (testing, partaking in or carrying out the assessment) burden on faculty
  • Individual students can be tested in a number of areas to determine the scope of GEN ED outcomes in individual students.
  • Random groups of students can receive different tests to expand topic coverage without increasing the test burden on individual students
  • Can be combined with other assessment methods such as portfolios to obtain the 'best of both worlds'
  • Up to 9 'local' questions can be added to 'customize' each particular test to local program expectations
  • A motivation question is used to tap into that dimension of testing

 

Disadvantages

  • Somewhat rigid: Not specifically tailored to MU's GEN ED program
  • Few if any MU faculty or administrators are deeply involved in the assessment
  • Does not cover all GEN ED goals (ex. exposure to other disciplines)
  • Only a little motivation for students to do well (certificate given to top scorers, obtain individual scores)
  • Math test is largely algebra or geometry driven
  • Over-testing of a particular student could lead to burnout
  • Classroom time or student time will be needed to conduct the tests
  • All students do not put together a package of materials representing what they've learned at college
  • No proficiency scale provided with scores (but technical help can be provided)
  • Might need to provide more incentive to students ($10 each?)

 

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