Assessing General Education Outcomes Across Programs

Assessing General Education Outcomes Across Programs

Yi Yang (Franklin University, USA), Michelle Buchberger (Franklin University, USA) and Harrison Hao Yang (State University of New York at Oswego, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-762-3.ch034
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As the pressure to provide accountability in education escalates, the assessment of student learning becomes increasingly important. This chapter describes an approach to the assessment of learning outcomes, in both online and face to face programs, as developed for an independent, non-profit university in Ohio. The approach includes three major components: a curriculum mapping process that determines where particular learning outcomes are being assessed, a visual representation of this curriculum map with links to assessment data (Success Path©), and a cyclical assessment process that assists with the continuous improvement of programs and student learning. This chapter leverages current research in the field of student learning, assessment, and curriculum mapping theory.
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Program Assessment Models

College Impact Model

The program assessment model can be traced back to the 1970s, when Astin (1970) proposed a college impact model of how students are affected by their college experience based on his work from a multi-institutional, longitudinal study. Astin believes the college is comprised of three distinct components: student inputs, student outputs, and the college environment. Student inputs are the “talents, skills, aspirations, and other potentials for growth and learning that the new student brings with him to college” (p. 225). Student outputs refer to measures of students’ achievements, knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, aspirations, interests, and daily activities. College environment refers to the aspects of a higher education institution that might affect students. College environmental variables include administrative policies and practices, curriculum, physical plant and facilities, teaching practices, peer associations, and other characteristics (e.g., size, selectivity, permissiveness). Student inputs can affect student outputs directly or by interaction with environmental variables.

Following Astin’s college impact model, Schroeder (2005) recommends a wide-ranging, multiple-measures assessment model gathering information in three areas: input, environment, and outcomes. This model incorporates student data, satisfaction surveys, outcomes assessment, national standards assessment, cost-effectiveness studies, and comparable institution assessment. He further suggests eight principles for effective program assessment. They are:

  • 1.

    Beginning with educational values;

  • 2.

    Stating purposes clear and explicitly;

  • 3.

    Paying attention to both outcomes and experiences that lead to those outcomes;

  • 4.

    Providing ongoing assessment;

  • 5.

    Involving representatives across educational community;

  • 6.

    Promoting change;

  • 7.

    Understanding learning is multidimensional, integrated, and improving students’ performances; and

  • 8.

    Providing opportunities for educators meet their responsibilities to students and to the public.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Success Path: It is a prototype for a software tool that enables a visual, color coded representation of outcomes in a curriculum map. It also facilitates the storage and retrieval of assessment data specific to a program outcome

Outcomes Assessment: It is the means by which student mastery of a particular outcome or outcomes might be determined.

Learning Outcomes: It is referred as discrete, measurable, and demonstrable skills or elements of knowledge that might be assessed to indicate learning has occurred.

Curriculum Mapping: According to Harden (2001) , “is a consideration of what is taught, how it is taught, when it is taught, and the measures used to determine whether the student has achieved the expected learning outcomes”(p. 123).

General Education: They are a series of introductory courses required at most universities and colleges, particularly in the United States, as part of the baccalaureate degree. These courses provide broad, foundational knowledge and skills in the arts and sciences.

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