Student Self-Assessment via Civic Engagement

Student Self-Assessment via Civic Engagement

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2452-6.ch004
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Abstract

In Year Four of this Initiative, the two faculty instructors introduced civic engagement portfolios to the cohort of students enrolled in the Initiative. The portfolios were being used to capture the freshmen college students' experiences with civic engagement during their first year of college. The cohort's portfolios were actually creating and piloting the portfolios as part of the larger institution's desire to assess its students' civic engagement as a component of college-wide learning outcomes recently adopted across campus. Initially the assessment was planned for seniors, but based on the encouragement of Initiative faculty, starting these portfolios when students enter college will allow the school to assess students' civic engagement development over time.
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Every time I decide to put myself out there I seem to come out of the experience feeling like I have changed for the better in some way. – First-year student

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College-Wide Learning Outcomes

Being a small liberal arts institute in higher education, we value preparing our students for not only a future career, but also for life. Through their college experience of taking classes across campus and engaging in on-campus and off-campus experiences, students develop into well-rounded, open-minded adults. Our campus created a campus-wide committee to identify five college-wide learning outcomes that will not only help students gain proficiency in the content of their own major, but give them the skills and knowledge to prepare them for meaningful work, to become active citizens, and to become lifelong learners. The goal was that during the four years at our institution and through their classes and experiences they would develop the skills and knowledge in five areas: critical thinking, creative inquiry, intercultural competence, civic engagement, and commitment to well-being. Our institution defines these college-wide learning outcomes as (http://www.keene.edu/academics/liberal-arts/outcomes/):

  • Critical Thinking: Keene State College students will evaluate evidence, consider multiple perspectives, choose and defend a position from several alternatives, and analyze complex problems.

  • Creative Inquiry: Keene State College students will engage in research, scholarly activity or creative work to contribute new knowledge, art or expression and reflect on the process of inquiry or self-expression.

  • Intercultural Competence: Keene State College students will reflect critically on their own culture and on the intersectionality of culture and social location, demonstrate knowledge of a diversity of cultures, and communicate effectively with people from a variety of backgrounds.

  • Civic Engagement: Keene State College students will demonstrate knowledge of one or more social or environmental issues including relevant cultural, political and policy contexts; take action individually or collectively to address issues; and reflect on the ethical dimensions of civic engagement.

  • Commitment to Well-Being: Keene State College students will reflect critically on their own well-being and that of the larger world, demonstrate knowledge of issues that impact health and wellness, advocate for themselves, and commit to one or more practices that promote well-being.

Although we focused on civic engagement, knowledge and understanding of all the goals of our institution sets the framework for our work in the one area of civic engagement. Specifically, we choose to engage in the civic engagement outcomes after voicing how this portfolio should start during the first year so students can set a foundation in which they will continue to grow and develop as they complete their four years at our institution cumulating in authentic and broadening experience.

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