Student Learning at the Foundational Level: AY 2017-18 English 101 [WRTG] Pilot Holistic Skills Assessment

Last academic year, 24 English 101 instructors participated in a pilot Holistic Skills Assessment Project to gauge student learning on written communication (a sub-goal of the Communication learning goal) for UCORE, as well as provide English 101 faculty with information for program development. As reported in the AY 2017-18 English 101 Holistic Skills Assessment Summary of Key Evidence for UCORE (PDF), pilot assessment results indicated that 81% of students exceeded or met expectations for written communication at a first-year undergraduate level at the end of their English 101 [WRTG] course.

English 101 (College Composition) helps satisfy UCORE’s Foundational Competency Written Communication course [WRTG] requirement. As described in the WSU Catalog, UCORE [WRTG] courses “require students to develop and express ideas clearly, concisely, and effectively in writing. Using strategic assignments and aligned evaluation criteria, [WRTG] courses develop a student’s understanding of the principles and elements of effective written communication through applied practice, self-evaluation, and revision.” As such, the WSU Composition Program requires that all English 101 course sections are portfolio-based. The portfolio is the primary means for evaluating student work in the composition program at WSU because it honors both the processes and products of writing. The portfolio must include final drafts as well as earlier drafts with teacher feedback.

AY 2017-18 was the first year of the English 101 Pilot Holistic Skills Assessment. English 101 instructors were asked to submit a short report on holistic student achievement of course outcomes, as demonstrated in students’ final portfolios. Thirty six reports were submitted for 65 English 101 sections on the Pullman, Vancouver, and Tri-Cities campuses, which represented more than 1,300 students and roughly 46% of students enrolled in English 101. Roughly 79% of students enrolled in all AY 2017-18 English 101 sections were first-year students.

The English 101 Pilot Holistic Skills Assessment was built on the longstanding practice of portfolio review sessions and discussion by English 101 instructors. Each semester, all instructors attend a portfolio review session, where instructors review and discuss and range of student portfolios, to help ensure consistency across sections of English 101. Additionally, Beth Buyserie, Interim Director of Composition, was awarded a 2016-17 Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning Grant for the “The English 101 Portfolio Outcomes Project,” which used data in student portfolios to determine professional development priorities for English 101 instructors to reinforce strong learning outcomes and buttress components that are weak or missing.

For more information about WSU Composition Program, see the WSU Composition Program website or contact Beth Buyserie. For additional information about UCORE Assessment, see Current Assessment Activities and Evidence of Student Learning, or contact the Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning.