Faculty Senate approves new general education goals, assessment plans

11:00:12 AM CDT - Thursday, April 07, 2005

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

The Faculty Senate approved updated goals and an assessment plan for WSU's general education program during its March 28 meeting.

The faculty have been working on an assessment process for a number of years, following a 1997 report from the North Central Accreditation agency which recommended that WSU develop such a process before its next accreditation review in 2007.

Under the approved plan, WSU will start a new process of surveying graduating students. To find out how the program is perceived and to start measuring the skills and perspectives the program is supposed to provide, a sample of seniors who took all their gen ed coursework at WSU and those who transferred all or most of their gen ed hours will be interviewed.

"Nobody has data on how this program is doing," said general education program coordinator Don Blakeslee. That lack of data was a key point made in the 1997 NCA report.

Blakeslee and Paul York, who chairs the eight-member gen ed committee, presented the plan to the senate.

WSU will use a three-year cycle to study the three components of basic skills courses, further studies courses and issues and perspectives courses within the program. The cycle will most likely start with the further studies course, Blakeslee said, since the basic skills classes were reviewed recently by the committee.

The assessment plan relies heavily on having instructors and departments involved in teaching gen ed courses provide the committee with data.

Another key component is a feedback process. The committee will meet with advisers and representatives from the libraries, who can offer input on students' library research skills.

The senate also approved new goals for the program, streamlining the previous six goals into four and including a new goal related to basic library research skills.

The new goals state that students will study and apply basic mathematical principles, written and oral communication, and basic library research skills and that they will study and gain a basic understanding of the natural sciences, social and behavioral sciences, humanities and fine arts.

The goals and assessment plan will be presented at a general faculty meeting May 10.

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