Millersville University, Faculty Senate

Attachment C
Faculty Senate Minutes
February 5, 2002

General Education Assessment at Millersville: A Status Report
February 4, 2002

Though the roles of the General Education Review Committee (GERC) and the Coordinator of General Education are broader than simply conducting outcomes assessment for the Gen Ed program, these tasks are the major focus of our efforts at this point in time. Toward that end, GERC concluded a process of revising all the objectives for Gen Ed with Senate approval in May 1999. The revision of objectives was undertaken in order to increase both the currency and assessability of the objectives. Over the last two years, we have actively been designing and pilot-testing assessment strategies for several of the objectives.

As our experience has grown and the time for implementation of full-fledged assessment has drawn closer, we have faced two related issues on which we now seek the advice and counsel of Faculty Senate. They involve how to procure the involvement and participation of (1) the faculty and (2) the students. Clearly, an assessment process aimed at such a broad and integral part of the Millersville undergraduate experience deserves and demands widespread assistance from both parties (recall that Gen Ed does entail a minimum of 54 credits out of the 120 minimum credits for the Bachelor's Degree).

First, let me mention the issue of faculty participation. I see faculty participation in Gen Ed assessment needed on three levels. The first level is campus leadership, provided in large measure through service on the now combined GERC-AOAC committee and the various sub-committees and working groups that they have called together over the years. Many in Faculty Senate and throughout the University have responded at this level, but some of the difficulties of recruitment to this and other committees have been a topic of recent Senate discussions.

A second level of participation involves allowing access to appropriate classes and assignments for the purpose of conducting course-embedded assessments. It has been a conscious strategy of Gen Ed assessment to employ course-embedded assessment techniques whenever and wherever possible. These techniques allow minimal disruption of the routine of classroom learning and teaching, do not necessitate separate "assessment days" (getting students to come to a testing situation, or taking class time, just to meet the needs of outcomes assessment), and have an inherent "face" validity since they are part of normal classroom assessment procedures.

The third level of participation lies in the scoring of course-embedded and other assessment procedures. We have already used and anticipate much additional use of faculty to grade tests/assignments/papers for purposes of outcomes assessment. This is akin to employing scoring panels for AP or other similar tests. Faculty are paid a stipend (from the assessment budget) to score previously collected materials, usually during the summer or over break periods.

Encouraging participation is not just an issue for faculty but for students as well. When assessment is not course-embedded, the need for securing the involvement of a representative group of students arises. This is the case currently with the planned testing of students' critical reasoning abilities using the ETS Tasks in Critical Thinking. A variety of incentive strategies have been tried at various institutions to get students to both show up and take seriously testing outside of the classroom. We have proposed the use of an early registration incentive whereby students (e.g., a random sample of students having completed about 60 credits) are invited to participate and those who show up and complete the test are allowed to register for their next semester's classes prior to the normal early registration period. Faculty input on this and other incentive procedures is hereby being sought.

Our overall goal is to foster a "culture of assessment" where the processes of collecting assessment data, reporting the results, and using them to enhance the curriculum, our programs, and our methods of teaching and learning becomes second nature to our system of undergraduate (and graduate) education. Until such a culture exists, we need to find ways to encourage faculty and student participation in the assessment activities I have outlined. It is through this participation and the subsequent effective use of the assessment results that a culture will be built. Your assistance with suggestions and with recruitment is vital to the success of our collective efforts.

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