Using [CAPS] Assessment Summary Results to Inform Decision-making to Support the UCORE General Education Program

Assessment activities and results are intended to inform regular faculty reflection and discussion about effective teaching, learning, and curricula, and ultimately contribute to decision-making to support student learning. In concert with the UCORE Director, faculty on the UCORE Committee and Subcommittee for Assessment annually review results of UCORE’s Capstone [CAPS] Assessment and suggest actions for improved assessment or use to inform decision-making.

In place since 2015, UCORE’s Capstone [CAPS] Assessment provides valuable data about student learning on WSU’s Undergraduate Learning Goals in the context of the UCORE curriculum at the near-graduation level. While UCORE’s [CAPS] Assessment summary results have shown that most seniors are meeting or exceeding faculty expectations on the WSU Learning Goals demonstrated in [CAPS] courses – a positive reflection on UCORE’s curriculum and instruction, and on undergraduate education at WSU – these results, in conjunction with other data, have also informed multiple decisions intended to improve the quality of the undergraduate experience at WSU. For example:

  • The UCORE Committee completed a course designator student learning outcomes revision project for nearly all UCORE course designators ([ARTS], [BSCI], [CAPS], [COMM], [HUM], [ROOT], [PSCI], [QUAN], [SSCI], and [WRTG]). The project clarified what students who successfully complete a course in each designator should know and be able to do, by explicitly aligning the language of UCORE’s course designator learning outcomes with WSU’s Learning Goals of Undergraduate Education and targeting UCORE’s course learning outcomes to be inclusive of students completing requirements outside their major/discipline (and at the lower division, as appropriate to the designator).
  • Memos were shared with academic advisors to communicate junior enrollments and achievement gaps in [CAPS] courses, as compared to seniors, and recommend that students enroll in CAPS courses as seniors whenever possible.
  • A number of improvements to UCORE’s [CAPS] Assessment report form have been implemented, including rubric language developed by the Subcommittee for Assessment to help clarify faculty expectations and the evaluation of student performance at the graduating undergraduate level.
  • In partnership with the WSU Writing Program, the WORD! Faculty Fellows program was created to enhance writing instruction in general education, using peer-reviewed strategies and concepts.

“Discussion of assessment results helped us wrestle with some gray areas in the curriculum, leading to our thorough review of the UCORE course designators and what we want students to come away with, regardless of their major,” observed UCORE Director Clif Stratton. “We focused on achievable expectations for faculty and students in a single course. In [CAPS], for example, we clarified expectations for integrative learning at the end of the UCORE curriculum, and what all students are expected to do in capstone projects that can vary considerably across disciplines and majors.”

“UCORE’s [CAPS] assessment summary results, including faculty evaluation of student performance and C-/D/F/W rates, have been instrumental in supporting faculty reflection, discussions, and suggested actions to support student learning and quality undergraduate education,” he added. “We are committed to an ongoing, iterative process of curricular improvement and faculty development support, and these data help us make informed, intentional recommendations and decisions.”

For more examples of how student learning evidence from UCORE’s Capstone [CAPS] Assessment contributes to decision-making, including changes instructors plan to make to their [CAPS] course based on assessment, see Uses of UCORE’s Capstone [CAPS] Assessment.