Wichita State University is an urban institution that serves a large number of non-traditional students. We have many minority, international, part-time, first-generation-to-go-to-college, and transfer students. Indeed, only a small minority of our graduates consists of traditional four-or five-year students who take all of their general education courses with us.
These facts of life have had a strong effect on the nature of our general education program and on the means by which we can assess it. At some institutions, the general education program consists of a limited number of courses so that there is a strong element of shared experience for students; that is not possible here.
Wichita State University currently uses the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) to assess the outcomes gained through the students' educational experience. Each fall and spring semesters, a representative sample of entering and graduating students participate. This assessment is used, in conjunction with Program Review, to verify the University's impact on the outcomes as well as contribute to continuous improvement of the University's programs.
The mission of Wichita State University includes equipping our students “ . . . with the educational and cultural tools they need to thrive in a complex world, and to achieve both individual responsibility in their own lives and effective citizenship in the local, national, and global community; . . .”
In the context of our general education program, we interpret this statement in terms of the skills and breadth of experiences needed for our graduates to succeed. The skills we emphasize are those involved in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and problem solving and that they be communicated effectively orally or in writing, as appropriate. The diversity of intellectual exposure demanded by our general education program provides our students with the breadth they need to “thrive in a complex world.”