[CAPS] courses provide a culminating student experience by asking students to integrate their learning to address authentic situations. Students apply skills, concepts, and methods of inquiry developed throughout their general education experience and/or experience in the major to develop a substantial, culminating research, applied, or creative project, and to initiate investigations and explorations of open-ended issues and problems. CAPS courses feature at least one substantial deliverable for evaluation and assessment (including but not limited to a presentation, research paper, creative artifact, multi-modal design product, team project, practicum experience). Given their position as the culminating experience within the UCORE curriculum, CAPS courses carry a strong responsibility to provide evidence of student achievement of WSU learning goals.
Required CAPS Student Learning Outcomes
Students, regardless of major, who successfully complete a [CAPS] course, including completion of a culminating project, should be able to:
- Conceptualize a substantial, culminating project that requires the application of key concepts, methods, and skills to address authentic situations. (WSU Learning Goal: Critical and Creative Thinking).
- Apply concepts, skills, and/or methods of inquiry within and/or across disciplines to address authentic situations. (WSU Learning Goals: Integrative Learning)
- Identify and synthesize multiple relevant bodies of knowledge and sources of information to support findings or results within the context of an authentic situation. (WSU Learning Goal: Information Literacy)
- Communicate findings in written forms appropriate to the discipline and to 400-level course expectations. (WSU Learning Goal: Written Communication)
Optional CAPS Student Learning Outcomes
As appropriate to the course context, students who successfully complete a [CAPS] course, including completion of a culminating project, should be able to:
- Communicate effectively as relevant to the mode of non-written communication (e.g., public speaking; musical expression; interpersonal, intercultural, or visual communication; multi-media authoring; conversational foreign language). (WSU Learning Goal: Non-written Communication)
- Analyze the complexity of elements important to similar and diverse cultures, values, and perspectives. (WSU Learning Goal: Diversity)
- Apply quantitative principles and computational methods to address authentic situations. (WSU Learning Goal: Quantitative Reasoning)
- Apply scientific methods and principles to authentic situations. (WSU Learning Goal: Scientific literacy)
Revised outcomes approved Spring 2022.
Whether submitting a new course for approval for the first time or submitting an updated course as part of UCORE’s renewal process, faculty should submit a completed CAPS Learning Outcomes Grid along with the course syllabus and supporting assignment prompts/activity descriptions. This grid should clearly demonstrate the relationship among UCORE designator learning outcomes, course learning outcomes, and activities and assignments that support those outcomes.
Faculty are not required to insert this learning outcomes grid into the body of the syllabus. However, per WSU university syllabus policy, all syllabi must communicate the course’s student learning outcomes to students. If the course holds a UCORE designation, then that communication should occur with in the context of the UCORE designation’s required learning outcomes (e.g. critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, understanding diversity, etc.).
Please adapt this course description for use in your syllabus. If possible, integrate with course specific description:
XXXX XXX satisfies the CAPS requirement for WSU’s University Common Requirements (UCORE), which is designed to help you acquire broad understanding, develop intellectual and civic competencies, and apply knowledge and skills in real world settings. CAPS courses provide a culminating experience asking students to apply skills, concepts, and methods of inquiry from their general education experience and/or experience in the major to develop a culminating project, and to investigate and explore open-ended issues and problems. With these broader goals in mind, XXXX XXX helps you draw on prior learning to demonstrate a depth of knowledge, an ability to apply concepts, and an ability to integrate methods and concepts.
Additional adaptable description for CAPS courses that aren’t designed primarily for one major:
XXXX XXX satisfies the CAPS requirement for WSU’s University Common Requirements (UCORE), which is designed to help you acquire broad understanding, develop intellectual and civic competencies, and apply knowledge and skills in real world settings. CAPS courses provide a culminating experience asking students to apply skills, concepts, and methods of inquiry from their general education experience and/or experience in the major to develop a culminating project, and to investigate and explore open-ended issues and problems. With these goals in mind, XXXX XXX will help you draw on skills and knowledge from your previous studies and integrate them with concepts and methods from other disciplines. This course is designed to give you exposure to new areas and work with classmates to collectively share knowledge and perspectives, and, ultimately, to acquire new disciplinary understandings for a more complex perspective on __________________. XXXX XXX is intended for students from different majors to make connections and apply concepts both familiar and new. Our discussions and projects will be enriched by the diversity of majors in our class.
Departments and schools should consider how UCORE student learning outcomes (skill development) map to course level (100, 200, 300, or 400) and design assignments and activities accordingly.
|Courses||Courses often taught at 100 & 200 level; some “shared” with other departments or UCORE, or community colleges (external context)||Courses generally at 300 and 400 level, often taught by the major department (or across depts, especially in interdisciplinary programs)|
|Introduce (I)||Practice (P)||Refine (R)||Competent (C)|
|Levels of Program Learning Outcomes: Content, Skills, and Complexity||Introduce skills and knowledge Practice basics (methods, skills, content knowledge)|
Beginner, collegiate level.
|Practice components to solidify foundational skills and knowledge, build comfort and proficiency (includes practice w/ feedback)||Additional development to refine skills & deepen knowledge; use in more complex, demanding contexts (includes practice w/ feedback)||Apply methods, skills, and knowledge in multiple contexts at an advanced, complex level; know when and where to apply; Graduating senior major level.|
The following policies are required of CAPS courses:
- Must be offered at the 400 (senior) course level.
- Students must have at least junior standing as a general prerequisite. Senior standing strongly preferred.
- Must be offered “in residence.”
Also see departmental CAPS policies as outlined in the Policy section.
Your CAPS course must identify a specific, culminating student work product (presentation, paper, creative artifact, team project) that can be assessed for the UCORE curriculum. Course proposals and renewal requests must indicate how this artifact demonstrates achievement of CAPS outcomes and how the student work product is evaluated to determine level of achievement. (If a rubric or rating scale or other evaluative tool already exists for this assignment, please include it with the proposal.) For greater detail on designing and assessing CAPS courses, consult assignment design and teaching resources.
As noted in the Policy section, ideally, CAPS courses keep enrollments to less than 50 students. If a CAPS course will be a large-enrollment course, the course proposal should indicate how the evaluation of assignments will be structured to meet the learning outcomes, provide feedback to students along the way, and to deal with the realities of faculty time.
Assessment Tools / Rubrics
Some departments have well-developed rubrics or other rating schemes for capstone level work, particularly for their majors. As you are developing assessment criteria and grading schemes, please check with your department, especially if majors will take your course. In addition, it’s recommended you review the short assessment report form for UCORE (see “Participating in CAPS assessment” below); this will allow you to plan your assessment and grading to align with the requested information. Faculty who do so typically find they can quickly assess their class’s performance and complete the UCORE report at the end of the semester.
To assist with developing evaluation criteria, faculty may adapt the VALUE Rubrics developed by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. A number of WSU departments have adapted VALUE rubrics for assessment of their majors. See UCORE’s assessment website for more information.
- Integrative Learning
- Oral Communication
- Information Literacy
- Written Communication
- Critical Thinking
- Creative Thinking
- Lifelong Learning
- Ethical Reasoning
- Quantitative Literacy
When a department offers a CAPS-designated course, it agrees to participate in UCORE CAPS assessment reporting each semester. Together, evidence from CAPS courses contributes to an overall understanding of how well students are being served by the current WSU curriculum, including its general education component.
CAPS courses provide evidence to internal and external stakeholders that students are meeting the learning outcomes of the UCORE general education program and of the 7 Learning Goals of Undergraduate Education.
In teaching—or designing and proposing—a CAPS course, careful thought must be given to providing an integrative, culminating experience and to the related student work product(s) that will demonstrate achievement of the course’s outcomes. The UCORE assessment process looks for proficiency achievement (for example, meets expectations for graduating senior) for this culminating aspect of the undergraduate academic experience.
CAPS Faculty Report
Each semester, CAPS instructors complete a short report assessing student performance in their class on CAPS-UCORE learning goals, a course-embedded direct measure of student work based on the instructor’s expert judgment. Instructors also identify changes made or planned in the CAPS course influenced by assessment results. Begun in 2015, this regular assessment reporting process is currently managed by the Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning, which collects and analyzes the data for UCORE. CAPS report summaries and related information are available on the UCORE Assessment website.
- As you plan or revise your CAPS syllabus, grading, and assessment, please take a few minutes to review the short report form for UCORE; this will allow you to develop assessment and grading that aligns with the requested information. Faculty who do so typically find they can quickly complete the UCORE report at the end of the semester. You can view the report template (and recent results) for CAPS on the UCORE assessment website.
- CAPS instructors are encouraged to share their UCORE assessment reports with their department and undergraduate assessment coordinator, particularly for UCORE CAPS courses in the major, as the data may also contribute to program-level assessment. The Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning is a resource to help faculty coordinate approaches to CAPS assessment for UCORE and undergraduate degrees.
- National Survey of Student Engagement: CAPS instructors are asked to encourage seniors in their CAPS courses to complete the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)—offered bi-annually, spring semester only—by sharing slides and other promotional materials provided by UCORE in their classes. NSSE asks students about their academic experiences and perceived gains on key skills. Results are summarized for the university and UCORE, and disaggregated for colleges and departments / majors, if response rates are adequate. See UCORE’s Assessment website for more about NSSE and the years it is offered at WSU, and to view results from seniors in past years.
- Other: Periodically, as assessment questions and needs evolve, UCORE may collect additional measures, with some assistance from CAPS faculty. For example, samplings of identified student work may be collected and rated by an all-university group, or students or faculty may participate in a survey or focus group.
Explore this content area of the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President’s website, which contains resources, tips, tools, and techniques to support excellence and innovation in teaching.
Read guidance from the Office of Assessment for Curricular Effectiveness on developing powerful, clear assignments to impact teaching, learning, and assessment.
Depending on the designation, your UCORE course will carry additional learning outcomes requirements.
View departmental responsibilities for class size, graduate student instructors, shared syllabi, and more.
Emphasize information literacy by scheduling with a librarian a session that is specifically tailored to your course.