Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education

Assessment Methods for General Education Programs

 

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Assign or create a committee to spearhead General Education Assessment
Nichols (1995)  reported that every successful assessment program had established assessment committees but the roles and levels of authority were highly variable depending upon the campus.

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Use broad interdisciplinary representation on the committee.
Palomba & Banta (1999) described successful general education program assessment as led by strong interdisciplinary committees that cooperatively assessed, interpreted, and recommended action for improvement.

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 Emphasize the importance and scope of General Education assessment,
but try not to place blame in any one department.

General Education Assessment is crucial because all programs require a core of general education courses (Palomba & Banta, 1999; Tickle, 1999). Gail Mee of Mesa college in Arizona reported that it was important not to blame the English department when written communication assessment was lower than expected. General Education outcomes are taught by some classes but must be reinforced in all General Education curriculum.

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Consider locally developed assessment tools.
Locally developed assessment tools created by  interdisciplinary general education assessment committees were very common, however the similarity stopped there. Case studies displayed a compilation of highly individualized assessment strategies that were reflective of campus culture and values (Banta, Lund, Black, & Oblander, 1996; Nichols, 1995; Tickle, 1999). Developing tools locally required extra time and effort from faculty generally necessitating stipends or workload adjustments.

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Evaluate commercially developed standardized tests.
There are some commercial standardized assessment tools for limited aspects of general education, such as critical thinking and math competency. The variety of goals for accessing General Education made standardization difficult. Another issue involves cost.

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Define the assessment goals and pilot test the tool.
Whether locally developed or standardized tests were used , it was important to pilot the test, and determine how the data would be used and who would interpret and act on the data.

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Apply good assessment principles.
General education case studies invested time to validity and reliability.

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Make General Education assessment manageable. 
1. SAMPLE, SAMPLE, SAMPLE! Don't attempt to test all students. Determine a representative sample.
2. Don't assess all General Education outcomes every year. Select one or two to concentrate in each year.
3. Consider using embedded assessment in courses to guarantee quality student involvement. See the sample
assessments for examples of embedded General Education assessment.

Sample General Education Assessment

Janet Fulks
Assessing Student Learning in Community Colleges (2004), Bakersfield College
jfulks@bakersfieldcollege.edu    
07/11/2006