General Education Update

After a lengthy and inclusive review of the existing general education program at Washburn University, the initial phase of the new general education program was approved by General Faculty in April 2012. Phase 1 of the general education refinement will replace the existing 9 skills with 5 student learning outcomes (SLOs) and each general education course will be required to identify one student learning outcome to emphasize and to assess. As the recently approved modifications are implemented, updates to the progress will be posted on this web site.

Implementation Updates

Approved Implementation Plan

Summer 2012

(PHASE 1) The Assessment Committee hosted a series of drop-in sessions for faculty who want to begin migrating their general education courses from the existing skills model to the proposed learning outcome model.  The deadline for revising all existing general education courses and submitting them for approval is January 31, 2013.

Fall 2012

(PHASE 1) The Assessment Committee will continue to work with departments and individual faculty members to craft appropriate assessment plans for their chosen SLO for each general education course.  Please contact Dr. Donna LaLonde to make arrangements for these individual meetings. The revised general education course proposals will be submitted to the General Education Committee for review and approval.  Once approved, courses will be included in the 2013-2014 University Catalog. Submission Deadline: 31 January 2013

(PHASE 2) During the fall semester, the Critical and Creative Thinking Student Learning Outcome Assessment Discovery committee was formed and included thirteen faculty from around campus. The task of this group was to research and evaluate the various instruments (e.g., rubrics, standardized tests) that would best assess the critical and creative thinking abilities of our graduating (exiting) students. The committee has completed its task and presented recommendations to the faculty at large in focus groups held during the first week of December.  Participants were asked to provide feedback regarding their preferences about which assessment instruments they believe would best assess Washburn's definition of critical and creative thinking.  Please review the PowerPoint slides for the focus groups if you were unable to attend and contact Dr. Mike Russell to provide your feedback. Critical Creative Thinking Discovery Committee developed the following Recommendation report.

(PHASE 2) A General Faculty meeting was held on Thursday, November 29, and approved the following changes to the core requirements effective Fall 2013:

(PHASE 2) The General Faculty also approved the modification of the make-up and charge of the General Education Committee effective immediately:

Spring 2013

Fall 2013

Additional outcome assessment discovery committees were formed to research and evaluate the various instruments (e.g., rubrics, standardized test) that would best assess the communication and information and technology literacy student learning outcomes of our graduating (exiting students). The following conclusions were reached:

  • Written aspect of the COM SLO: There were 2 recommended instruments: AAC&U rubric and the CLA+.  There was a strong preference was for AAC&U by the subcommittee.  In addition, the CLA was rejected for a previous SLO so it appeared unlikely the CLA would be preferred for written communication.
  • Oral aspect of the COM SLO: Similar result.  Two instruments were recommended--AAC&U rubric and The Competent Speaker Speech Evaluation Form. The AAC&U rubric was strongly preferred by the subcommittee.
  • Non-verbal aspect of the COM SLO: No stand alone assessment instruments were found.  Rather, non-verbal tends to be linked to (inseparable from) oral communication.  Thus there is nothing for the faculty to consider for the Non-Verbal COM SLO.
  • In terms of the Information Literacy aspect of the ILT SLO, there was only one recommended assessment instrument, Project SAILS.
  • In terms of the Technology aspect of the ILT SLO, no assessment instrument was discovered that matched our parameters, including the SLO definition.

Given the existence of clear preferences by the committees for the AAC&U rubrics for written and oral communication as well as SAILS for information literacy, it seems prudent to adopt these instruments.  The details of the faculty committee reviews of the various instruments can be accessed at the following links:

Spring 2014

At the end of the Spring 2014 semester, a pilot of the Critical Thinking campus-wide assessment was completed.  Fourteen faculty members from several varied academic units joined nine of their colleagues from the English Department who facilitated a training session in using the AAC&U critical thinking VALUE rubric to assess artifacts submitted by students completing EN 300 - Advanced Composition that semester.  After receiving training and completing the assessment of student artifacts, the faculty assessors were asked to evaluate the training they received and offer suggestions for improvement.  These recommendations will be incorporated into the actual campus-wide critical thinking assessment which will occur at the end of the Spring 2015 semester.

Fall 2014

The Torrance Tests for Creative Thinking were administered to 55 students and additional tests will be conducted during the Spring 2015 semester.  In addition, the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership was identified as a potential instrument for the assessment of global citizenship, ethics, and diversity and will be administered during the Spring 2015 semester.

Spring 2015

Several assessment initiatives were accomplished during the Spring 2015 semester.  The Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership instrument was provided to a random sample of 4,000 Washburn students of which 1,786 completed the survey for a 44.7% response rate.  The Torrance Tests for Creative Thinking were administered to an additional 110 seniors (total of 165 seniors participated).  At the end of the Spring 2015 semester, pilots of the Written Communication and Oral Communication campus-wide assessments were completed and the formal Critical Thinking campus-wide assessment occurred.  In addition, the first group of general education courses were reviewed by the General Education Committee and the first course-embedded assessment results were included in those reviews.  In order to provide in-depth analysis of the various assessment data we have been accruing, an Academic Effective Analyst position was created and filled during the summer.   We anticipate receiving reports summarizing much of the data we have amassed so that it can be shared with the campus during the upcoming academic year.

Background Information

General Education Review - First ad hoc committee (Established Fall 2009)

Summer Working Group - SLO Assessment (Established Summer 2010)

General Education Review - Second ad hoc committee (Established Summer 2011)