General Education Requirements

Developing Writing Outcomes for Interdisciplinary General Education Courses

Portland State University
http://www.pdx.edu/unst

Writing is an essential part of the University Studies' interdisciplinary, inquiry-based curriculum. Freshman and Sophomore Inquiry, which make up the first two years of PSU's core curriculum, fulfill students' writing requirement at PSU. Though Freshman and Sophomore Inquiry were designed as writing intensive in nature, we did not have a clear set of writing outcomes for FRINQ and SINQ courses, and we lacked a clear set of expectations for faculty in regards to writing instruction and assignments. This posed a particular challenge for faculty new to teaching in University Studies.

Writing is an essential part of the University Studies' (UNST) interdisciplinary, inquiry-based curriculum. In UNST courses, students focus on the composition process and learn how to write to a variety of audiences and within multiple genres and disciplinary conventions. This focus on writing within particular contexts and as mode of inquiry helps students succeed both within and beyond the university, making writing and communication a central aspect of their daily lives. UNST’s programmatic writing outcomes provide a guideline for writing instruction in University Studies.

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Annie Knepler

knepler@pdx.edu

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Capstone Course ePortfolio

Portland State University
http://www.pdx.edu

The culminating general education experience for students at Portland State University is a community-based course focused on creating a collaborative final project that meets a direct need for a community partner. Assessing student achievement of learning outcomes is difficult in a course where the final project is group-produced, much of the learning happens in the field, and the projects and experiences vary widely from course to course. Our challenge was to identify a method to conduct meaningful direct assessment of these community-based group-focused capstone courses.

Portland State’s Capstone program offers approximately 200 sections each year engaging over 3,800 students annually in projects that directly address the needs of our community partners. In order to assess student learning in these courses, we developed an electronic course portfolio review process. The course portfolios are designed to investigate whether students are meeting the learning outcomes set out in a course. In these course portfolios faculty upload student written work, often reflections, which address the one of the goals such as “appreciating the diversity of the human experience.” Faculty also include their course syllabus, course description, the instructions for the assignments they submitted, and a narrative explaining how they address the goal in their course and where they see the most meaningful evidence of student learning related to the goal. This course portfolio provides evidence of individual student learning (the student assignments) with the context (the course materials and faculty narrative) needed to interpret that evidence. We assess course portfolios from about 25% (18 courses) of our 70 unique Capstone courses each year. Since we have 4 goals, we assess a different goal each year and involve 25% of our courses annually. As a result we assess almost every course and each goal within a four year assessment cycle. Throughout the year a small faculty committee designs clear criteria to evaluate the Capstone course portfolios. Each summer, a group of faculty is recruited to review the course materials and student work and determine if the learning outcome being assessed was achieved at a course level, if the course was exemplary at demonstrating the learning outcome or if it was insufficient. The aggregate data from these course portfolios helps us understand how well we are meeting our general education learning expectations in these courses.

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Rowanna L Carpenter

carpenterr@pdx.edu

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General Education Model

North Idaho College
http://www.nic.edu

Our community college is in the initial stages revising our General Education model. Our goal is to create a system that addresses LEAPS Essential Learning Outcomes and that maintains depth and breadth for the students. We began the first stage of the process by creating a model (see website). We presented our model to the State's other two community colleges as out hope is to create a model that can be adapted and used by community colleges throughout the State. Our second step is to refine the model and develop outcomes and rubrics. This part of the process will involve the faculty input as to which specific courses would be included in each outcome.

The conceptual model is divided into two broad categories: Foundational and Integrative. These terms have since been revised to "Integrative" and "Ways of Knowing." Integrative outcomes are described as those that create a "structure," a model of understanding which creates a building blocks for students so that they can relate to other outcomes (Ways of Knowing) in a meaningful way.

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Lita Burns

maburns@nic.edu

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