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Assessment of Student Learning in General Education (GE)
The core of undergraduate education at the College for the great majority of first-time, full- time students is the Traditional GE Program. This program focuses on areas of study that the faculty and the SUNY Board of Trustees have determined are of such critical and fundamental importance that they should be mandated for all liberally educated students. The SUNY-approved student learning outcomes supplemented by the major program outcomes serve as the College’s institutional student learning outcomes. General Education at the College stresses development of the basic intellectual skills of writing, speaking, critical thinking, computer literacy, and mathematical analyses, expected of college-educated persons. The program also helps develop a good skills foundation for advanced work in a major discipline of study. In addition, the program requirements convey some of the collected insights about humankind and its cultural, artistic, and scientific achievements, the nature of human societies, the natural order, and the systematic ways in which we seek knowledge and understanding in many fields. Lastly, the GE Program provides students with the opportunity to connect with the various courses and fields of study they encounter in college and to apply their skills and knowledge to analyzing real problems in contemporary society. Our GE Program integrates well with discipline-specific learning outcomes articulated for various degree programs.
Currently, the assessment of the SLOs of the General Education Knowledge Areas is based on the concept that the program’s SLOs are achieved through the satisfaction of the learning objectives in designated courses that make up the program. Data measuring achievement of course objectives offer evidence of attainment of program outcomes to which they relate. Overall, assessment of SLOs is based on direct and indirect data collected on specific outcomes addressed in Knowledge Area courses and several skills development areas: English Composition Writing Samples; Mathematics Proficiency Exam administered annually in MTH 112-College Mathematics; the Computer Skills Exam required of all students; ACT CAAP and CLA Critical Thinking Exams; NSSE and FSSE surveys related to student engagement and other surveys for student opinion. In addition, all 111/112 - level foreign language courses fulfill requirements for the General Education Program at Brockport. They are assessed by the same procedures used for the departmental student learning outcomes for language and culture.
Annual Learning Outcomes Assessment in the Majors and Graduate Programs
The College Assessment Project began in the early 1990s and is the College’s most long-standing assessment work. It involves multiple assessment projects carried out at the department/program level to evaluate content-based student learning at the undergraduate level, and more recently, at the graduate level. All academic programs are required to maintain a set of student learning outcomes and to assess their list of department/program student learning outcomes within a three-year cycle. Data are usually gathered from a variety of sources including portfolios, surveys, test results, external reviewers’ comments on projects, course-based assignments, and other artifacts. A three-year assessment plan in a standardized format is obtained from each academic department at the beginning of each academic assessment cycle. It is the department’s responsibility to implement their plan and report the results of assessments. End-of-the-year assessment reports are filed with the school dean, who reviews the report, provides feedback to the department, and forwards it to the vice provost’s office. Departments are encouraged to engage in assessment projects that they believe will be most meaningful in terms of current issues on which assessment results might be informative to the department. Assessment results are to be reported to the department’s faculty and there is a focus on closing the loop to improve curriculum and pedagogy at the programmatic level.
Periodic Program Review: A major assurance of academic quality at the College
Arguably, the most thorough assurance of academic quality in the College’s academic programs is the College’s Periodic Program Review (PPR) process, a primary driver of curricular and program revisions. Departmental PPRs provide a mechanism through which a department or program and the College can develop a comprehensive understanding of the unit’s contributions and needs. The College requires all major programs to complete a structured, in-depth review of all departmental/ major functions on a seven-year cycle. A new PPR cycle began at the College at Brockport in 2009 and will continue until 2016. In this current cycle, all academic programs will be given an in-depth review beginning with the preparation of a highly-structured and comprehensive departmental Self-study that addresses all aspects of department function. The process also requires all departments to bring to campus two external reviewers from peer institutions to examine the Self-study and carry out an independent review of the department and its programs. Reviewers file a written report with the department, dean, and provost. After receiving the external reviewers’ reports, the department, in consultation with their dean, prepares a draft Joint Action Plan, a document that addresses the actions for improvement to be taken by the department and the way the College administration will support those actions. The Deans’ Council receives a presentation by the department chair and dean, discusses the details of the draft Joint Action Plan, and recommends the final Joint Action Plan to the Provost, with an appropriate time frame and a commitment of resources adequate to support these actions. It then becomes the responsibility of the department and the dean to see that the elements of the Joint Action Plan are implemented and reported on in the Departmental Annual Reports.