Information Literacy, Integrative Learning, and Critical Thinking Achievement at the First-Year Level: AY 2020-21 Roots of Contemporary Issues [ROOT] Final Papers Assessment Results

As reported in the AY 2020-21 [ROOT] Final Papers Assessment Summary of Key Evidence for UCORE (PDF), assessment results indicated that, on average, 78% 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 Information Literacy. Additionally, 88% met or exceeded expectations on the outcome related to Integrative Learning and 80% met or exceeded expectations on the outcome related to Critical Thinking.

History 105 [ROOT] is the foundational first-year experience course for UCORE. The course introduces 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 2020-21, the Roots of Contemporary Issues program completed an assessment of final papers. In summer 2021, [ROOT] faculty evaluated a random sample of these papers from all campuses using a faculty-developed rubric. Note: For fall 2020 and spring 2021, undergraduate courses at WSU were delivered at a distance and completed remotely, with extremely limited exceptions for in-person instruction, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In AY 2020-21, the [ROOT] Final Papers Assessment rubric asked whether in these papers students demonstrated the following skills related to WSU’s Learning Goals:

Information Literacy:

  • selecting sources appropriate to a research paper
  • using a citation system that suggests they accurately referenced their evidence
  • showing awareness of the relationship between the nature of sources and the kinds of conclusions drawn from them

Integrative Learning:

  • situating an issue, problem, or debate in relevant and accurate historical context

Critical Thinking:

  • using evidence to support historical contextualization

The Roots of Contemporary Issues program, in collaboration with the WSU Libraries and Office of Assessment for Curricular Effectiveness (ACE), 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 Thinking, Information Literacy, and Integrative Learning) and the Diversity & Inequality Papers Assessment (aligned with Diversity and Written Communication), conducted biennially in alternating years starting in AY 2016-17. For additional information, see Roots of Contemporary Issues [ROOT] Assessment.