Assessing Student Learning at the First-Year Level: AY 2016-17 Roots of Contemporary Issues [ROOT] Final Papers Assessment Results

As reported in the AY 2016-17 [ROOT] Final Papers Assessment Summary of Key Evidence for UCORE (PDF), assessment results indicated that, on average, 98% of first-year students partially met, met or exceeded expectations at the first-year undergraduate level at the end of their UCORE first-year experience [ROOT] course on rubric outcomes related to Critical & Creative Thinking. Additionally, 98% partially met, met or exceeded expectations for outcomes related to Information Literacy and 98% for written communication

Roots of Contemporary Issues [ROOT] courses are foundational first-year experience courses for UCORE. The courses introduce students to five of the seven university learning goals (Critical & Creative Thinking, Information Literacy, Communication, Diversity, and Depth, Breadth & Integration of Learning) by asking students to understand the historical and global roots of various issues facing the world today.

The Roots of Contemporary Issues Final Papers Assessment Project is intended to provide [ROOT] faculty with information for program improvement, as well as gauge student learning on three of the WSU Learning Goals at the first-year level. Each academic year, beginning in AY 2012-13, [ROOT] faculty evaluate a random sample of students’ final research papers from all campuses using a faculty-developed rubric. In AY 2016-17, this rubric asked whether in these final papers students demonstrated the following skills related to WSU’s Learning Goals.


  • using evidence to support an argument
  • developing historical context


  • selecting sources appropriate to a research paper
  • using sources in a way that suggests they understood the relationship between the nature of the source and the kinds of conclusions they could draw from it
  • using a citation system that suggests they accurately referenced their evidence


  • stating an argument
  • including an organizational structure
  • following written conventions

In 2018, [ROOT] faculty will expand these efforts using additional assignments as assessment artifacts. For additional information, see Roots of Contemporary Issues [ROOT] Assessment or contact the Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning.