Millersville University, Faculty Senate

Attachment D

Faculty Senate Minutes

March 7, 2000

Critical Reasoning Assessment Plan
General Education Review Committee

February 22, 2000

The subcommittee to design an assessment plan for the critical reasoning objective proposes a three-part assessment effort:

1. 10% of eligible students (i.e. students who have completed between 60 and 90 credits at the start of the academic year) will take the (Choose one: CCTST or ETS Tasks in Critical Thinking) during the fall semester of each year of the assessment plan.

Students will be selected based on purposeful convenience sampling. Course sections that draw generally representative samples of junior level MU students will be identified. Selection of participating sections will be based on general representation of MU students by major, willingness of instructor to participate, and whether administration of the test may serve a dual purpose such as aiding an academic program review of a department. Instructors will be asked, on a rotating basis, to volunteer one class session for test administration. (5-7 class groups will be selected, distributed across disciplines, if possible.)

CCST (multiple choice based)
  160 tests X $4 = $400
  2 Faculty proctors X 3 test administrations X $50 Professional Development Funds= $300
  Total= $700
ETS (Task-based)
  160 tests X $15=$2400
  2 Faculty proctors X 3 test administrations X $50 Professional Development Funds= $300
  Scoring time for faculty [ETS Tasks only], 4 X $150 = $600
  Total = $3300

N.B. During the spring 2000 semester, and thanks to the cooperation of the Philosophy Department, the CR sub-committee is conducting a pilot administration of the CCTST and the ETS Tasks to determine which instrument best serves our purposes. All students in PHIL. 100 classes (N > 350) will take one of the two tests. Student results will be analyzed against the MU Critical Reasoning definition and within a comparison of the two instruments to determine which is most useful and most efficient. A decision to employ one test or the other will be made following this pilot effort.

2. All students registered for Perspectives courses taught by participating faculty members during the academic year will be asked to complete an early-semester course-based task (one that will be refined from an already existing course requirement) specially-designed to capture the three facets of the MU definition of "Critical Reasoning". Willing faculty members will be provided with guidance in developing the task and trained to use an adaptation of the California Academic Press "Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric" ( to evaluate the students' work. Individual faculty members will report students' scores (4-1) to the GERC.

All faculty teaching Perspectives courses will be invited to participate in the training -- tentatively scheduled for May, 2000 -- to develop an assessment task that will be evaluated and reported to GERC. Faculty participation must be voluntary. To encourage faculty involvement, those participating will be given personal faculty development funds (administered through the department budget) to be spent on scholarly travel, teaching materials, books, etc. Participants will receive $100 for attending the training and development session, and $100 each time the course is taught and tasks are assessed using the Critical Reasoning Rubric and reported to GERC. Task assessment will occur collaboratively following the end of the semester, with all participating faculty members assessing and checking assessments.

No incentive is necessary for student involvement since the assessment task is a course requirement.

(A minimum of 160 students is needed.)


15 X $100=$1500

N.B. An additional $1200-1500 cost will be incurred in the first year for training.

3. Five faculty members will each be asked to work with a 6-student "focus group", beginning as
first year students and continuing through graduation. Each faculty member will meet with his or her
group twice per semester. (Sessions should last approximately 75 minutes and light refreshments should be
provided.) Each semester, the faculty member will conduct discussions that encourage demonstration of
critical thinking elements as defined in the MU General Education Objectives and will assess and document
in a qualitative/narrative manner the students' critical reasoning skills. Discussion topics should be relevant
to student personal and academic goals and should elicit students' analyses and evaluation of critical
reasoning instruction.

[This effort will not be initiated unless five willing faculty members can be identified.]

Incentives for students will not be necessary for the students if the focus groups are integrated into the advisement process, if refreshments are provided, and if faculty members establish substantive relationships with the members of the group. (Care will be taken to design discussion formats that are appropriate to the academic development of the group and that complement the advisement process at each stage. Groups can be like-major membership.) Incentives for the faculty members should include professional development funds, but may also include grant funds and publication opportunities if the project is designed appropriately.


6 faculty members X $200 = $1200
Refreshment costs = $400

Total cost = $1600

This three-part plan combines: 1) standardized normed test scores, 2) local course-based assessment measures, and 3) qualitative information in narrative form. This combination will provide GERC with a multi-faceted picture of students' critical reasoning capabilities for purposes of review and renewal (if needed) AND will enable the University to communicate achievements in critical reasoning to diverse constituencies within and outside the University.

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