Assessing Diversity Achievement at the First-Year Level: AY 2017-18 Roots of Contemporary Issues [ROOT] Diversity & Inequality Papers Assessment Results

As reported in the AY 2017-18 [ROOT] Diversity & Inequality Papers Assessment Summary of Key Evidence for UCORE (PDF), assessment results indicated that, on average, 70% of first-year students 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 Diversity. Additionally, 77% met or exceeded expectations for outcomes related to 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.

Roots of Contemporary Issues Assessment is intended to provide [ROOT] faculty with information for program improvement, as well as gauge student learning on 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’ papers from all campuses using a faculty-developed rubric. In AY 2017-18, the Roots of Contemporary Issues program completed an assessment of 2-3 page response papers that explicitly ask students to address themes of inequality and diverse ways of thinking. In summer 2018, [ROOT] faculty evaluated a random sample of these papers from all campuses using a faculty-developed rubric. AY 2017-18 was the first time that the program assessed these papers for two WSU learning goals specifically, Diversity and Communication. One challenge in measuring the Diversity learning goal, is that Diversity can refer to students’ ability to identify social differences (based on gender, race, ethnicity, wealth, etc.) or students’ ability to understand diverse perspectives and worldviews that develop as a result of differences (i.e., understanding diverse ways of thinking). Because the [ROOT] courses intentionally address these different ways of understanding Diversity in discrete lesson plans, they are in a position to collect information on this learning goal at the first year level.

In AY 2017-18, the [ROOT] Diversity & Inequality Papers Assessment rubric asked whether in these response papers students demonstrated the following skills related to WSU’s Learning Goals:


  • demonstrating an understanding of cultural/social positioning/perspectives
  • demonstrating understanding of cultural worldview frameworks
  • using discipline-appropriate vocabularies/concepts


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

The Roots of Contemporary Issues program, in collaboration with the WSU Libraries and Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning (ATL), coordinates the assessment, reporting and data analysis for Roots of Contemporary Issues [ROOT] Assessment. [ROOT] Assessment includes the Final Papers Assessment Project (aligned with Critical & Creative Thinking, Information Literacy, and Communication) and the Diversity & Inequality Papers Assessment (aligned with Diversity and Communication), conducted biennially in alternating years starting in AY 2016-17. For additional information, see Roots of Contemporary Issues [ROOT] Assessment or contact Clif Stratton, Assistant Director, Roots of Contemporary Issues Program.