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 replaced the existing 9 skills with 5 student learning outcomes (SLOs) and each general education course is now required to identify one student learning outcome to emphasize and to assess. As the 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 wanted 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 was January 31, 2013.

Fall 2012

(PHASE 1) The Assessment Committee continued to work with departments and individual faculty members to craft appropriate assessment plans for their chosen SLO for each general education course.  The revised general education course proposals were submitted to the General Education Committee for review and approval.  Once approved, courses were included in the 2013-2014 University Catalog. 

(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 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 the assessment instruments they believed would best assess Washburn's definition of critical and creative thinking.  Dr. Mike Russell and the Critical Creative Thinking Discovery Committe developed the following Recommendation reports.

After a thorough investigation by each of the subcommittees, the use of the AACU VALUE Rubric in both areas was recommended.

(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

Additional Discovery Committees were formulated to research and evaluate the various instruments (e.g., rubrics, standardized tests) that would best assess the quantitative/scientific reasoning and global/ethics/diversity abilities of our graduating (exiting) students. 

Once faculty reviewed the summary of choices, they completed a brief survey.

Once faculty reviewed the summary of choices, they completed a brief survey.

After a thorough review of the survey results by each of the subcommittees, the use of the Madison Assessment of Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning was recommended to assess the quantitative/scientific reasoning USLO; the Defining Issues Test 2, the Miville-Guzman-Universality-Diversity Scale, and the Global Perspective Inventory were recommended to assess the global citizenship/ethics/diversity USLO.

Fall 2013

Additional outcome assessment discovery committees were formed to research and evaluate the various instruments (e.g., rubrics, standardized tests) 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 was 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 seemed 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 were incorporated into the actual campus-wide critical thinking assessment which was to occur at the end of the Spring 2015 semester.

The ETS Proficiency Profile assessing Reading, Writing, Critical Thinking and Mathematics was administered to 230 Freshmen and 302 Seniors.

The first semester of general education course-embedded USLO ratings were submitted and are summarized:

Total of 103 courses, 289 sections, 6,687 student summary scores

  • CCT = 34 courses, 89 sections, 1,726 student sum scores
  • COM =  13 courses, 47 sections, 991 student sum scores
  • GED = 28 courses, 63 sections, 1,825 student sum scores
  • ILT = 2 courses, 5 sections, no data
  • QSR = 26 courses, 85 sections, 2,145 student sum scores

Fall 2014

The Torrance Test for Creative Thinking was administered to 55 students and additional testing was 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 instead of assessing with three different instruments and was 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 1,156 completed the survey for a 28.9% response rate.  The Torrance Test for Creative Thinking was 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 with eighteen reviewers rating a total of 157 artifacts.  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.  

FY15 Course-Embedded USLO Assessment Results:

123 total courses, 421 sections, 9,327 student summary scores

  • CCT = 39 courses, 119 sections, 2,219 student sum scores
  • COM = 13 courses, 93 sections, 1,902 student sum scores
  • GED = 39 courses, 93 sections, 2,349 student sum scores
  • ILT = 4 courses, 14 sections, 199 student sum scores
  • QSR = 28 courses, 102 sections, 2,658 student sum scores

In order to provide in-depth analysis of the various assessment data the university had been accruing, an Academic Effective Analyst position was created and filled during the summer.   Reports summarizing much of the data we had amassed were created so that they could be shared with the campus during the upcoming academic year.

Fall 2015

The Madison Assessment of Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning was administered to 160 students.

Spring 2016

At the end of the Spring 2016 semester, the formal Written Communication and Oral Communication campus-wide assessments occurred with seventeen reviewers rating a total of 199 papers for written communication and fifteen reviewers rating a total of 74 video presentations for oral communication..

FY16 Course-Embedded USLO Assessment Results:

139 total courses, 513 sections, 13,965 student summary scores

  • CCT = 42 courses, 139 sections, 3,588 student sum scores
  • COM = 14 courses, 91 sections, 2,415 student sum scores
  • GED = 46 courses, 100 sections, 3,095 student sum scores
  • ILT = 7 courses, 66 sections, 1,489 student sum scores
  • QSR = 30 courses, 117 sections, 3,378 student sum scores

The annual Assessment Extravaganza, held on February 4, 2016, was devoted to the university student learning outcomes processes that had been developed since 2012 and initial USLO campus-wide and course-embedded results. These poster presentations were made available to faculty and staff for discussion and potential action.

Fall 2016

The ETS Proficiency Profile assessing Reading, Writing, Critical Thinking and Mathematics was administered to 245 Freshmen and 188 Seniors over the course of the fall and spring semesters.

Spring 2017

FY17 Course-Embedded USLO Assessment Results:

133 total courses, 810 sections, 15,906 student summary scores

  • CCT = 47 courses, 223 sections, 4,425 student sum scores
  • COM = 12 courses, 164 sections, 2,891 student sum scores
  • GED = 39 courses, 153 sections, 3,392 student sum scores
  • ILT = 6 courses, 105 sections, 1,727 student sum scores
  • QSR = 29 courses, 165 sections, 3,471 student sum scores

Fall 2017

The Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (SAILS), postponed from the Spring 2017 semester, will be administered to exiting students. The second round of campus-wide assesment will begin with the offering of the Torrance Test of Creating Thinking (TTCT).  The Quantitative/Scientific Reasoning subcommittee will be re-convened to determine a potential replacement instrument for the Madison which does not appear to be meeting our needs for assessment because there is no normative comparison group.

Spring 2018

The Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL) will be administered to all students to assess global citizenship/ethics/diversity. The AAC&U VALUE rubric for Critical Thinking will be used by groups of faculty to assess critical thinking.

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)