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General Education Assessment Report

 

 

South Dakota State University

General Education Assessment Plan

2020-2023 Introduction

The South Dakota State University General Education Assessment Plan outlines the purpose, principles, and processes which guide the assessment of student learning identified by the System General Education goals and student learning outcomes.   

 

The General Education requirements seek to prepare students with the skills to communicate effectively, problem-solve, analyze, locate and gather information, and think critically and logically (SDBOR Academic Affairs Guidelines 8.1). The curriculum is designed to:  

  • Empower students to be conscientious citizens;
  • Train students to understand how to think, not what to think;  
  • Expose students to the breadth of ideas, cultures, and values that explain the world;  
  • Equip students for working together and thinking critically in ways that contribute to solving problems;  
  • Provide a foundation for, and the enhancement of, the knowledge and skills necessary for their chosen pathway after degree completion; and  
  • Foster respect for the ideas, cultures, and values of others.  

 

 

System General Education Goals, Student Learning Outcomes and Credit Requirements

 

General Education requirements reflect the mission by offering an array of courses that provide foundational knowledge and complement the disciplines and degrees offered. Baccalaureate degree-seeking students complete 30 course credits (24 credits for Associate degrees). The general education goals, student learning outcomes and credit requirements are common across the South Dakota Regental System (SDBOR 2:26;SDBOR 2:7;SDBOR Academic AffairsGuidelines 8.3;SDBOR Academic Affairs Guidelines 8.4). The list of approved courses  includes common and unique courses. All requirements can also be found in the            SDSUUndergraduate Catalog.  

 

Goal #1:  Written Communication: Students will write effectively and responsibly and will understand and interpret the written expression of others.  

 

Student Learning Outcomes:  As a result of taking courses meeting this goal, students will:

  1. Write using standard American English, including correct punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure,  
  2. Write logically,  
  3. Write persuasively, with a variety of rhetorical strategies (e.g., expository, argumentative, description),  
  4. Incorporate formal research and documentation into their writing, including research obtained through modern, technology-based research tools.  

 

Required Credit Hours (SGR #1 Course List):       Associate Degrees – 6 credit hours

                            Baccalaureate Degree – 6 credit hours

 

Goal #2:  Oral Communication:  Students will communicate effectively and responsibly through listening and speaking.  

 

Student Learning Outcomes:  As a result of taking courses meeting this goal, students will:  

    1. Demonstrate the ability to speak thoughtfully, clearly, and effectively in a variety of contexts,  
    2. Demonstrate active listening skills in a variety of contexts.

 

Required Credit Hours (SGR #2 Course List):

                            Associate Degree – 3 credits

                            Baccalaureate Degree – 3 credits

 

Goal #3:  Social Sciences/Diversity:  Students will understand the organization, potential, and diversity of the human community through study of the social sciences.  

 

Student Learning Outcomes:  As a result of taking courses meeting this goal, students will:

    1. Identify and explain basic concepts, terminology, theories, and systems of inquiry of the selected social science disciplines.  
    2. Apply selected social science concepts and theories to contemporary or historical issues from behavioral, cultural, institutional, temporal, or spatial contexts.  
    3. Analyze the extent and impact of diversity among individuals, cultures, or societies in contemporary or historical contexts using social science methods and concepts.  

 

Required credit hours (SGR #3 Course List):   

                            Associate Degree – 3-6* credits

                            Baccalaureate Degree – 3 credits

Coursework must be completed from two disciplines.  

*Refer to the program requirements. Three additional credits selected from the approved

list of courses for Goals #3, #4, or #6 to reach 24 System General Education Requirements for the Associates Degree.  

 

Goal #4: Arts & Humanities/Diversity:       Students will understand the diversity and complexity of the human experience through study of the arts and humanities.  

 

Student Learning Outcomes:  As a result of taking courses meeting this goal, the student will:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the diversity of values, beliefs, practices or ideas embodied in the human experience, and  
  2. Demonstrate basic understanding of concepts of the selected discipline within the arts and humanities.  

In addition, as a result of taking courses meeting this goal, students will be able to do at least one of the following:

  1. Demonstrate ability to express creative, aesthetic, formal or stylistic elements of the disciplines.
  2. Demonstrate foundational competency in reading, writing, and speaking a non-English language.  
  3. Identify and explain cultural contributions from the perspective of the selected disciplines within the arts and humanities.  

 

Required credit hours (SGR #4 Course List):   

                            Associate Degree – 3-6* credits

                            Baccalaureate Degree – 3 credits

*Refer to the program requirements. Three additional credits selected from the approved list of courses for Goals #3, #4, or #6 to reach 24 System General Education Requirements for the Associates Degree.  

 

Coursework must be completed from two disciplines or a sequence of modern language courses. Students must complete a course from another subject if they are using one from either ART or ARTH.

 

Goal #5:  Mathematics: Students will understand and apply fundamental mathematical processes and reasoning.  

 

Students Learning Outcomes:  As a result of taking a course to meet this goal, students will:

  1. Use mathematical symbols and mathematical structure to model and solve real world problems.
  2. Demonstrate appropriate communication skills related to mathematical terms and concepts.  

 

Required Credit Hours (SGR #5 Course List):

                            Associate Degree – 3 credits

                            Baccalaureate Degree – 3 credits

 

Goal #6: Natural Sciences:  Students will understand the fundamental principles of the natural sciences and apply scientific methods of inquiry to investigate the natural world.  

 

Student Learning Outcomes:  As a result of taking courses to meet this goal, students will:

  1. Explain the nature of science including how scientific explanations are formulated, tested, and modified or validated.
  2. Distinguish between scientific and non-scientific evidence and explanations, and use scientific evidence to construct arguments related to contemporary issues.
  3. Apply basic observational, quantitative, or technological methods to gather and analyze data and generate evidence-based conclusions in a laboratory setting.  
  4. Understand and apply foundational knowledge and discipline specific concepts to address issues, solve problems, or predict natural phenomena.  

 

Required credit hours (SGR #6 Course List):   

                            Associate Degree – 3-6* credits

                            Baccalaureate Degree – 3 credits

*Refer to the program requirements. Three additional credits selected from the approved

list of courses for Goals #3, #4, or #6 to reach 24 System General Education Requirements for the Associates Degree.  

 

 

Commitment to General Education Statement

 

The general education curriculum is central to South Dakota State University’s mission to help students develop the competencies, principles, and modes of thinking crucial for advanced study in their major and for meeting the obligations of an informed and engaged citizenship. These foundational courses promote scientific inquiry; quantitative reasoning; written and oral communication; an awareness of the historical, psychological, social, economic, and political structures that inform our present moment; and an understanding of the contributions diverse cultures make to our common humanity. South Dakota State University and its faculty express their commitment to helping students acquire the sensitivity, knowledge, and powers of analysis and reasoning they will need to contribute in meaningful ways to the workplace and the world beyond.

 

General Education Assessment Requirements and Expectations

 

All Regental institutions maintain accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and fulfill criteria outlined across the criteria and core components. To maintain accreditation, institutions are reviewed based on their ability to meet each of the criteria and core components. The following criteria and core components reference general education, student learning and assessment.

 

Criterion 3:  Teaching and Learning:  Quality, Resources, and Support:  The institution provides quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.

 

             Core Component:

3.B. The institution offers programs that engage students in collecting, analyzing, and communicating information; in mastering modes of intellectual inquiry or creative works; and in developing skills adaptable to changing environments.  1. The general education program is appropriate to the mission, educational offerings, and degree levels of the institution. The institution articulates the purposes, content, and intended learning outcomes of its undergraduate general education requirements.  

2. The program of general education is grounded in a philosophy or framework developed by the institution or adopted from an established framework. It imparts broad knowledge and intellectual concepts to students and develops skills and attitudes that the institution believes every college educated person should possess.  

             

Criterion 4:  Teaching and Learning:  Evaluation and Improvement: The  institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.  

 

Core Component:  

4.B. The institution engages in ongoing assessment of students learning as part of its commitment to the educational outcomes of its students.  

  1. The institution has effective processes for assessment of student learning and for achievement of learning goals in academic and co-curricular offerings.  
  2. The institution uses the information gained from assessment to improve student learning.  
  3. The institution’s processes and methodologies to assess student learning reflect good practice, including the substantial participation of faculty, instructional and other relevant staff members.  

 

In addition, the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) Policy 2:11 Assessmentsets forth the responsibility for assessing student learning outcomes for the general education curriculum.  

 

This plan provides guidance and information by which student achievement related to general education goals and student learning outcomes are assessed.  

 

 

SDSU General Education Sub-Committee

 

In 2019, the SDBOR assigned the design and implementation of general education assessment plans to each individual institution. To accomplish this, the SDSU General Education Sub-Committee was assigned to develop the SDSU General Education Assessment Plan.  

 

The SDSU General Education Sub-Committee of the SDSU Academic Affairs Committee is responsible for providing leadership and management of general education. More specifically, the sub-committee (as stated in the Academic Affairs Committee Charter):

  • Reviews general education requirements and recommends revisions as appropriate,
  • Organizes and coordinates efforts to inform students and faculty of the nature, purpose and value of the System General Education Requirements (SGR),
  • Periodically reviews the goals/criteria for inclusion of courses,  
  • Establishes procedures and reviews requests for course additions to the SGR, and
  • Conducts a 5-year rotating review of courses and educational experiences listed under the SGR.

 

The membership of the SDSU General Education Sub-Committee includes college representatives from all academic colleges: Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences, Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, Education and Human Sciences, Engineering, Natural Sciences, Nursing, Pharmacy & Allied Health Professions. Members also include a representative from H. M. Briggs Library and the First Year Advising Center. The Director of Institutional Assessment, Office of Academic Affairs Curriculum and Catalog Specialist and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs serve as ex officio members. One of the college representatives serves as a liaison to the SDSU Academic Affairs Committee.  

 

 

SDSU General Education Assessment Process

 

The goal of general education assessment is to determine how well and in what ways students are achieving the intended learning outcomes. In addition, the assessment process can provide meaningful information and feedback for faculty who teach general education courses. Most important, general education assessment identifies successes of student learning, areas for improvement, and documentation of evidence-based changes.  

 

Good assessment practices encourage the use of multiple methods to examine student learning outcomes. SDSU’s general education assessment plan incorporates multiple methods to assess student learning as related to the general education curriculum. These methods include:

  1. Review of student artifacts from randomly selected general education courses/sections
  2. Items from the Senior Exit Survey  
  3. Items from the National Survey of Student Engagement
  4. Focus Groups (optional)

 

1. Review of Student Artifacts – Process Overview and General Timeline:

Direct assessment of the general education student learning outcomes requires faculty to review student work to ensure students are meeting the learning outcomes for each SGR.    

 

The assessment of the general education curriculum and student learning outcomes using the review of student artifacts is structured so that the six goals (and student learning outcomes for each goal) are assessed over a three-year period:

  • 2020-2021 – Goals #1 (Written Communication) and #5 (Mathematics)
  • 2021-2022 – Goals #3 (Social Sciences/Diversity) and #6 (Natural Sciences)
  • 2022-2023 – Goals #2 (Oral Communication) and #4 (Humanities & Arts/Diversity)

 

Course Selection Process

Courses meeting system general education goals are eligible for review. A sample of courses are randomly selected for review each year from the list of approved courses for the two goals scheduled.  

 

The Director of Institutional Assessment initiates the selection of courses.  Course and section selection is conducted in the spring prior to the year of review. For example, the courses/sections included in the review for 2020-2021, will be identified no later than April 3, 2020. A sample of approximately 25% of the available courses on the approved list will be selected for review each cycle.  

 

From these courses and in consultation with the Department Head or School Director, the Director of Institutional Assessment will randomly select a sample of three sections if there are four or more sections of the course (or all sections if three or fewer sections). 

 

In instances where there are a limited number of faculty members teaching all courses for a given goal, multiple sections by one faculty member may be selected for assessment.  

 

Faculty Notification

Faculty who are assigned to teach selected courses and sections will be notified via email by the Office of Institutional Assessment no later than mid-April of each academic year. Faculty and departmental/program leadership will be invited to attend a workshop to learn more about general education assessment expectations and guidelines. 

 

Faculty will also be invited to a rubric norming workshop. The goals of the rubric norming workshop are: 1) Practice using the rubric on samples of student work, 2) Discuss scores and develop a shared understanding of how to apply the criteria, 3) Develop consensus on scoring (reliability), 4) Identify sample work as “anchors” to provide samples of different scores of levels of performance.  

 

Selecting Artifacts

Prior to the beginning of the semester, faculty select student assignments to assess student learning outcomes. Faculty may select multiple artifacts. Any course materials (i.e., papers, exams, daily work, speeches, artwork, lab notebooks, etc.) may be used as evidence of student learning if the materials align with the student learning outcomes.  

 

Rating Artifacts

If appropriate, rubrics will be developed and used to rate the artifacts for all students in the course sections. In some instances, depending on the type of artifact used to demonstrate student learning (i.e., multiple-choice questions), a rubric may not be appropriate.  In those instances, faculty will determine the agreed-upon metric to report (i.e., the number of students who selected the correct answer).  

 

Submitting materials

Faculty who are participating in the assessment of general education for the academic year, submit the following materials to the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. Faculty should also copy the Department Head or School Director.  

  • Course syllabus
  • Completed Course Section Report  
  • 2-3 examples of student artifacts

 

Faculty should send materials by the end of the semester in which they assessed a general education course.  

 

These materials will be reviewed by the SDSU general education sub-committee to ensure adherence to the policy.

          

Timeline overview (example)

March/April 2020 •Courses/sections selected for review •Department Heads and Faculty notified via email •General Education Workshops

October 2020 •Rubric norming sessions

January 2021 •Faculty teaching fall courses submit course syllabus, course section report(s), 2-3 examples of student artifacts

May 2021 •Faculty teaching spring courses submit course syllabus, course section report(s), 2-3 examples of student artifacts

Fall 2021 •Materials review by General Education sub-committee  •General Education Assessment report completed

 

  1. Senior Exit Survey  

The senior exit survey is administered each semester to graduating seniors who complete the graduation application.  The survey instrument consists of 50 questions in closed-ended response format.  The survey items focus on:

    • Overall experiences
    • General education goals
    • High-Impact Practices (HIPs)
    • Graduate School Aspirations
    • Student Services

 

For general education goals (SGRs), seniors are asked to indicate the degree they disagree or agree on the following items:

    • I have improved my ability to write effectively and responsibly, as well as understand and interpret the written expression of others.
    • I have improved my ability to communicate effectively and responsibly through listening and speaking.
    • I have improved my ability to understand the organization, potential, and diversity of the human community through study of the social sciences.
    • I have improved my ability to understand the diversity and complexity of the human experience through study of the arts and humanities.
    • I have improved my ability to understand and apply fundamental mathematical processes and reasoning.
    • I have improved my ability to understand the fundamental principles of the natural sciences and apply scientific methods of inquiry to investigate the natural world.

 

 

  1. National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)

The National Survey of Student Engagement is a standardized survey tool used to assess the extent to which students engage in educational practices associated with high levels of learning and development. At SDSU, NSSE is administered every other spring (2020; 2022) to first-year and senior students.

 

NSSE items that indirectly measure general education outcomes include:  

 

Q2. During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

(Response options: Very often, Often, Sometimes, Never)

      1. Combined ideas from different courses when completing assignments
      2. Connected your learning to societal problems or issues
      3. Included diverse perspectives (political, religious, racial/ethnic, gender, etc.) in course discussions or assignments
      4. Examined the strengths and weaknesses of your own views on a topic or issue
      5. Tried to better understand someone else's views by imagining how an issue looks from their perspective
      6. Learned something that changed the way you understand an issue or concept
      7. Connected ideas from your courses to your prior experiences and knowledge

 

Q6. During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

(Response options: Very often, Often, Sometimes, Never)

      1. Reached conclusions based on your own analysis of numerical information

(numbers, graphs, statistics, etc.)

      1. b. Used numerical information to examine a real-world problem or issue

(unemployment, climate change, public health, etc.)

      1. Evaluated what others have concluded from numerical information

 

Q8. During the current school year, about how often have you had discussions with people from the following groups?

(Response options: Very often, Often, Sometimes, Never)

      1. People of a race or ethnicity other than your own
      2. People from an economic background other than your own
      3. People with religious beliefs other than your own
      4. People with political views other than your own

 

Q18.How much has your experience at this institution contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in the following areas?

(Response options: Very much, Quite a bit, Some, Very little)

      1. Writing clearly and effectively
      2. Speaking clearly and effectively
      3. Thinking critically and analytically
      4. Analyzing numerical and statistical information
      5. Acquiring job- or work-related knowledge and skills  
      6. Working effectively with others
      7. Developing or clarifying a personal code of values and ethics
      8. Understanding people of other backgrounds (economic, racial/ethnic, political, religious, nationality, etc.)
      9. Solving complex real-world problems
      10. Being an informed and active citizen

 

  1. Focus Groups (optional)

As needed, the SDSU general education sub-committee may conduct focus groups with students and/or faculty to further understand perceptions of general education curriculum and its impact on student learning and development. The faculty focus groups may also identify strategies on how to best support faculty who teach general education courses.  

Use of Assessment Findings

 

The fundamental purpose of assessment is to obtain information about what students have and have not learned.  These findings can then be used by faculty to help students improve their learning.   

 

The results of the assessments of student learning and achievement within the general education curriculum will be reviewed by the general education sub-committee and shared with course instructors, administrators and made available on the general education website.  Academic departments and colleges, in partnership with the general education sub-committee will use the results to make improvements to general education curriculum and/or assessment. The results will also be used to provide professional development opportunities to support faculty and enhance general education student learning.  

Reporting

 

Each fall semester, the Director of Institutional Assessment will compile results into the General Education Assessment report. The draft report will be reviewed by the general education sub-committee and the Academic Affairs Committee. Once approved, the report will be shared and posted on the General Education Assessment site

(https://www.sdstate.edu/office-institutional-research-assessment/assessment/generaleducation-assessment). This annual report will also be shared with the South Dakota Board of Regents Office as requested.  

 

 

Approved by Academic Affairs Committee 04/20/2020; Faculty Senate 4/14/2020.