Millersville University, Faculty Senate

General Education Curriculum

Program Review

May 1996

II. Quality of the Program

C. Student Outcomes

In evaluating the performance of the general education program at Millersville University, it is clearly essential to consider its impact on student success using such data as are available at this time. As new methods of assessing outcomes are discovered and implemented in the future, these will need to be part of future self-studies. Meanwhile, as this is the first such self-study, we do not have any previous studies for comparison, nor do we even have data available from the period prior to the implementation of the present general education curriculum. The best we can do, then, is to compare Millersville's present performance with other schools.

1. Retention

The overall graduation and retention rates for Millersville University compare favorably with national and State System of Higher Education (SSHE) norms. While this suggests that our present general education system is not unduly burdensome, we should not feel too pleased with this, as national and SSHE rates are not as high as many feel they ought to be.

Graduation rateNationalSSHEMillersville
Retention rateNationalSSHEMillersville

2. Test Scores

Millersville presently does not collect data as a whole on tests. Some departments keep track of how well those of their majors who take national tests do, but no college-wide data are collected. Possibly the university will undertake to collect such datawhen outcomes assessment is fully implemented. Assuming that it does so, we will need to ascertain what sorts of tests and test results could be indicative of a strong general education program.

3. Acceptance of Millersville Students by Graduate Schools

The most recent Alumni Survey indicated that twenty percent of the class of 1992 were pursuing a graduate degree. An additional forty percent were planning to apply to a graduate program within two years. It should be noted that this survey received only a twenty-two percent response rate, and was administered in February of 1994. In relating this category to a review of the general education program, we need to consider what connections might be expected between a successful program and a high rate of graduate student acceptance.

4. Placement

The above-mentioned Alumni Survey indicated that eighty-eight percent were employed while only eight percent reported being unemployed and still seeking employment. The remaining four percent were unemployed but not seeking employment. Twenty-four percent reported being employed at graduation, and an additional thirty-five percent reported having obtained employment within three months after graduation. Of those employed, eighty-six percent felt their positions were related to their majors. We hope in the next survey to ask alumni how useful they felt the general education curriculum was in helping them gain and retain employment. The Nursing department is currently surveying its alumni, asking whether the general education curriculum is achieving its goals. There were 42 respondents to the last two (1993 and 1994) surveys. The following results were in response to whether an individual's general education program achieved each of twelve goals (given as percentages). The goals are listed in the same order as in the introduction of this report.

yes%no%Did your general education program at Millersville achieve this goal
74%14%encourage creativity?
62%24%develop the communications and inquiry skills needed for understanding and continued growth in the major areas of knowledge?
67%19%cultivate the ability to reason, to recognize problems, to analyze, and to compose solutions?
67%19%provide opportunities to practice analytical skills?
76%12%develop your sense of inquiry and curiosity, of wanting to know for the sake of knowing?
86%5%acquaint you with the major areas of knowledge in the liberal arts?
93%0%expose you to disciplines other than an elected major field of study?
67%24%equip you to explore truth, to appreciate beauty, and to make choices based on responses to truth and beauty?
81%12%expose you to a variety of ideas and systems of belief and educate you to recognize the difference claims to truth?
76%12%provide opportunities for you to deal creatively with personal, community, and global concerns?
76%14%help you to develop the ability to integrate the philosophical, societal, cultural, and physical aspects of life so that you can approach human problems holistically?
74%14%prepare you to make decisions based on available information?

5. Survey of Current Students

One way to determine whether the General Education curriculum is achieving its goals is to survey current students, asking whether they believe the goals have been achieved. Curricular research indicates that such self-assessment has some, albeit limited, validity. The survey of 504 students obtained the following results with regard to the goals of general education. For each statement, the initial number indicates the position of the question on the questionnaire (included as Appendix C). The second number (N) is the number of respondents. The third number is the average of the responses on a scale where a lower score means more agreement: 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neutral, 4 = disagree, 5 = strongly disagree. The fourth number is the standard deviation in the average.

N avg. std. dev. statement
5. 504 2.173 0.865 GenEd courses have broadened my understanding of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. [goals f & g, Knowledge & Breadth]
10. 501 2.459 0.949 GenEd courses have enhanced my sense of inquiry and curiosity. [goal e, Curiosity]
4. 504 2.462 0.895 GenEd courses have enhanced my critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving, and decision making skills. [goal c, Reasoning]
17. 362 2.497 1.010 Perspectives courses have demonstrated how different areas of knowledge relate and can be used in complementary ways. [goal k, Wholeness]
6. 504 2.690 0.968 GenEd courses have encouraged me to view myself and others as valuable individuals who are enhanced by our differences. [goal i, Diversity]
9. 502 2.813 0.923 GenEd courses have increased my ability to take a comprehensive approach to global concerns. [goal j, Citizenship]
11. 502 3.052 0.975 GenEd courses have enhanced my appreciation of truth and beauty. [goal h, Truth & Beauty]

In general, students do not disagree that the General Education curriculum has achieved many of its goals. They are more likely to agree that the concrete goals have been achieved, less likely to agree that the more qualitative or abstract goals are realized.

Quality of the Program
...|Design |Faculty |Administration of the General Education Program |Environmental Trends Affecting Program
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