UMW QEP Outcomes, Nov 22, 2011

Statement of focus (Nov. 22, 2011)

Liberal Education is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest. A liberal education helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings.

The broad goals of liberal education have been enduring even as the courses and requirements that comprise a liberal education have changed over the years. Today, a liberal education usually includes a general education curriculum that provides broad learning in multiple disciplines and ways of knowing, along with more in-depth study in a major (AACU, Liberal Education and America’s Promise, http://www.aacu.org/leap/What_is_liberal_education.cfm)

The University of Mary Washington is an institution of Liberal Education.  As such, from the day of matriculation to the day of graduation, we strive to deliver the programs and opportunities that will produce the knowledge and skills described above.

  • The UMW Quality Enhancement Plan will focus on three areas
    • Enhance freshmen communication and information literacy skills (communication and information literacy)
    • Engage in curricular and co-curricular activities to enhance students’ responsibility and success in educational and personal goals (personal responsibility)
    • Enhance learning and personal reflection through collaboration with other students and faculty in and outside of the classroom (collaboration).

Learning outcomes, Nov. 22, 2011

A. Communication and information literacy

1. Students will demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the varying patterns of composition, organization and development (organization)

2. Students will demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the writing process (process)

3. Students will demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the varying strategies to convey arguments, main ideas and support/evidence (ideas)

4. Students will understand and be able to identify elements of the communication process, drawing on basic theories and principles of oral communication (organization?)

5. Students will communicate effectively in a variety of settings, including public speaking and group discussion (process?)

6. Students will critically evaluate mediated and face-to-face communication (evaluate?)

7. Students will utilize a variety of research techniques to synthesize information and support their messages

B. Personal responsibility

1. students will be take responsibility for their curricular planning and academic success

i. design a semester schedule built around the 3 broad graduation requirements

  • 1/3 General Education credits
  • 1/3 General Elective credits or Minor credits
  • 1/3 Major credits

ii. explore co-curricular opportunities and activities

iii. demonstrate use of tools and strategies to propose medium range (1 – 2 year) curricular plan

iv. demonstrate use of tools and strategies to design a long term (4 year) curricular and co-curricular plan

v. demonstrate use of tools and strategies to monitor academic progress, successes, weaknesses, problems

 2. students will complete required work, seek appropriate help and guidance, and identify opportunities to expand knowledge, skills, and abilities

i. demonstrate strategies for management of personal, career, and educational time and responsibilities

ii. seek out UMW resources to solve individual problems

iii. identify UMW resources needed to solve individual problems

iv. use UMW resources needed to solve individual problems

v. reflect on the significance of strategies for personal and educational development

3. students will engage in activities that enhance personal, social, and educational development

i. participate in, describe, discuss activities that bridge curricular and co-curricular arenas (e.g. FSEM students attend talk, view movie, attend cultural event, visit facility connected to FSEM topic

ii. reflect on connections between diverse courses

iii. volunteer for campus and / or community organized activities

iv.participate in ongoing research

v. develop a career exploration / search portfolio

vi. investigate experiential learning opportunities within context of academic and career interests

vii. reflect on meaning of activities for educational and personal development

C. Collaboration

1. students will solve problems and / or complete task within teams (Introduce)

2. students will be able to provide assistance and encouragement to team members (Introduce)

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UMW QEP Outcomes, Nov 20, 2011

Statement of focus (Draft, Nov. 20, 2011)

  • The UMW Quality Enhancement Plan will focus on three areas
    • Enhance freshmen written and oral communication
    • Engage in curricular and co-curricular activities (Liberal Arts and Sciences) to enhance students’ responsibility and success in educational and personal goals
    • Enhance learning, personal reflection, and increased respect for diverse people through collaboration with other students and faculty in and outside of the classroom.

Learning outcomes, Nov. 20, 2011

Written Communication Outcomes

  • (ideas) Students will demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the varying strategies to convey arguments, main ideas and support/evidence.
  • (organization) Students will demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the varying patterns of composition, organization and development
  • (appropriate writer’s voice) Students will demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of appropriate voice, tone, and rhetorical strategies for a specified audience.
  • (process) Students will demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the writing process.

Oral communication

  • Students will understand and be able to identify elements of the communication
    process, drawing on basic theories and principles of oral communication.
  • Students will critically evaluate mediated and face-to-face communication.
  • Students will communicate effectively in a variety of settings, including public
    speaking, group discussion, and interpersonal communication.
  • Students will utilize a variety of research techniques to synthesize information
    and support their messages. [this will likely be a shared learning outcome with
    writing]

Personal responsibility

  • students will be take responsibility for their curricular planning and success including 1) proposing medium range (1-2 years ahead) course plans, 2) short range (next semester) course plans, 3) register for courses, and 4) monitor academic progress
    • demonstrate use of tools and strategies to design a 4 year curricular and co-curricular plan
    • demonstrate use of tools and strategies to propose medium range (1 – 2 year) curricular plan
    • design a semester schedule built around the 3 broad graduation requirements
      • 1/3 General Education credits
      • 1/3 General Elective credits or Minor credits
      • 1/3 Major credits
    • demonstrate use of tools and strategies to monitor academic progress, successes, weaknesses, problems
  •  students will complete required work, seek appropriate help and guidance, and identify opportunities to expand knowledge, skills, and abilities [this second bullet may be a broad idea under which the first bullet falls]
    • communicate reasoning about important curricular tasks (course scheduling decisions)
    • demonstrate strategies for completing …. Add list of tasks that a significant number of freshmen are known to have difficulty with (e.g. find web resources for tutoring, keep a calendar or agenda). Use LASSI data to focus on known student weaknesses.
    • reflect on the significance of strategies for personal and educational development
  • students will engage in opportunities that help them explore the role that the liberal arts plays in their educational and personal development
    • participate in, describe, discuss activities that bridge curricular and co-curricular arenas (e.g. FSEM students attend talk, view movie, attend cultural event, visit facility connected to FSEM topic
    • volunteer for campus and / or community organized activities
    • participate in ongoing research
    • develop a career exploration / search portfolio
    • investigate experiential learning opportunities within context of academic and career interests
    • reflect on meaning of activities for educational and personal development
  • students will be able to articulate the main goals of a liberal arts education
    • recognize connections between diverse courses
    • understand that learning is a life-long endeavor
    • build independent thinking skills – be able to express and support an independent viewpoint

Improve learning, personal reflection and respect for diverse people through cooperative engagement/teamwork

  • students will solve problems and / or complete task within teams
  • students will be able to provide assistance and encouragement to team members
  • students will demonstrate the ability to identify conflict but work towards a common goal
  • students will be able to meet deadlines in order to complete group projects
  • students will be able to facilitate their contribution to group work by restating the views of others and/or asking questions of group members for clarification
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UMW QEP Outcomes, Nov 10, 2011

Areas of Focus with Learning Outcomes (November 10, 2011)

At the 11/10 meeting, we agreed to focus on the items in bold.

1.  Communicate effectively in written and oral forms

  • (ideas) Students will demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the varying strategies to convey arguments, main ideas and support/evidence
  • (organization) Students will demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the varying patterns of composition, organization, and development
  • (appropriate writer’s voice) Students will demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of appropriate voice, tone, and rhetorical strategies for a specified audience
  • (process) Students will demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the writing process
  • [Oral outcomes based on speaking intensive outcomes]

2.  Evaluate critically academic and non-academic material

  • Students will be able to synthesize and analyze information from sources to develop a coherent position
  • Students will be able to identify competing positions, supporting premises, and background assumptions of arguments
  • Students will be able to develop conclusions based on evidence and reason

3.  Take responsibility for achieving their educational and personal goals within the Liberal Arts context

  • Students will be able to complete required work and identify and take advantage of opportunities to expand knowledge, skills and abilities.
  • Students will engage in opportunities that help them explore the role that the liberal arts play in their educational and personal development
  • Students will be able to articulate the main goals of a liberal arts education.

4.  Improve learning, personal reflection and respect for diverse people through cooperative engagement/teamwork

  • Students will be able to provide assistance and encouragement to team members
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to identify conflict but work towards a common goal
  • Students will be able to meet deadlines in order to complete group projects
  • Students will be able to facilitate their contribution to group work by restating the views of others and/or asking questions of group members for clarification.

5.  Develop standards of personal integrity and ethical behavior

  • Students will participate in civic-engagement activities generated from course requirements
  • Students will be able to articulate the honor code and identify its importance in the values of the University
  • Students will have the opportunity to reflect on their own attitudes and beliefs to see how they may be different from those of other cultures and communities.

Areas of focus / learning outcomes. (October 20, 2011)

Short list of QEP focus areas

1. Communicate effectively in written and oral forms

2. Evaluate critically academic and non-academic material

3. Take responsibility for and achieve their educational and personal goals by engaging in the Liberal Arts

4. Improve learning, personal reflection, and increased respect for diverse people through collaboration with other students and faculty in and outside of the classroom.

5. Develop standards of personal integrity and demonstrate ethical behavior. Act as engaged and informed citizens.

More Details on our QEP Focus Areas

This document presents our current list of “areas of focus.”  These five (5) areas of focus are what we have called outcomes.  These statements are not yet specific enough to be learning outcomes.  We changed our terms during the meeting on 10/20/2011.  Before looking at our current areas of focus, we should understand that our areas of focus are the same focuses that many colleges and universities consider important areas of learning for all students.  Below is an extended quote from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU 2002, Greater Expectations).  The AACU actively promotes a program called Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP).  Their program and outcomes were generated by thousands of conversations with faculty from colleges and universities across the U.S. This statement places our areas of focus in a broader context.  In addition, the idea of “intentional learner” sounds much like the conversation we had toward the end of our meeting on 10/20/2011.  That is to say, we all agreed that we want all of our students to be learners.

“The education all students need prepares them for personal success and fosters a just, democratic society. The panel believes that the elements of such an education can bring together the many expectations various groups hold for college study. The central question is simple: What should all students be learning in college? No matter their aspirations or prior preparation, what will all graduates require to lead personally fulfilling and socially responsible lives? What learning should result from an undergraduate education of quality, whether gained from study at a selective liberal arts college, an urban university, an open enrollment community college for part-time adults, online courses, or a combination of them all?

Though easily framed, the question is not easily answered. By raising substantive issues, it looks for a response that goes far beyond a simple list of courses completed or books read.

The [AACU] panel recommends that colleges and universities place new emphasis on educating students to become intentional learners. In a turbulent and complex world, every college student will need to be purposeful and self-directed in multiple ways. Purpose implies clear goals, an understanding of process, and appropriate action. Further, purpose implies intention in one’s actions. Becoming such an intentional learner means developing self-awareness about the reason for study, the learning process itself, and how education is used. Intentional learners are integrative thinkers who can see connections in seemingly disparate information and draw on a wide range of knowledge to make decisions. They adapt the skills learned in one situation to problems encountered in another: in a classroom, the workplace, their communities, or their personal lives. As a result, intentional learners succeed even when instability is the only constant. For intentional learners, intellectual study connects to personal li e, formal education to work, and knowledge to social responsibility. Through understanding the power and implications of education, learners who are intentional consciously choose to act in ethical and responsible ways. Able to place themselves in the context of a diverse world, these learners draw on difference and commonality to produce a deeper experience of community.”

I will restate our current areas of focus.  Following each area of focus, I give the perspective and / or words used by AACU for each area of focus.  I find these statements help clarify and focus our intentions.

1. By the end of the first year, students will be able to communicate in writing and orally better than their college entry level and at a level appropriate for rising sophomores.  Appropriate levels to be decided.

The AACU has an almost identical statement. Communication skills fall within the AACU’s intellectual and practical skills” category (AACU 2005, Liberal Education Outcomes).  Students will effectively communicate in diverse settings and groups, using written, oral, and visual means, and in more than one language (AACU 2002, Greater Expectations).

2. By the end of the first year, students will be able to critically evaluate academic and non-academic material better than their college entry level and at a level appropriate for rising sophomores.  Appropriate levels to be decided.

Critical thinking skills fall within the AACU “intellectual and practical skills” category (AACU 2005, Liberal Education Outcomes).  Critical thinking is a habit of mind characterized by the comprehensive exploration of issues, ideas, artifacts, and events before accepting or formulating an opinion or conclusion.  Critical thinking requires interpreting, evaluating, and using information discerningly from a variety of sources (AACU, Critical Thinking Value Rubric).

[This is a combination of statements 3,4, and 6.]
3. By the end of the first year, students will explore a broad-based liberal arts education

  • by engaging in coursework that enhances their understanding of the sciences and liberal arts
  • engaging in opportunities that help them explore the role that the liberal arts plays in their educational and personal development
  • learn how to identify, take responsibility for, and achieve their educational and personal goals, at a level appropriate for rising sophomores.  Appropriate levels to be decided.

AACU and Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) program describes these ideas as foundations and skills for “lifelong learning.”   The AACU and LEAP include all of the knowledge and skills areas we have describe as part of liberal education, not just the focus areas we numbered 3, 4, and 6.  Their description of lifelong learning fits our ideas of 1) educational and personal development and 2) learning to identify, take responsibility for, and achieve educational and personal goals.  Lifelong learning is “all purposeful learning activity, undertaken on an ongoing basis with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence”. An endeavor of higher education is to prepare students to be this type of learner by developing specific dispositions and skills while in school.  The skills and dispositions involved in lifelong learning are curiosity, transfer [of knowledge], independence, initiative, and reflection (AACU, Foundations And Skills For Lifelong Learning Value Rubric).

4. By the end of the first year, students will collaborate with other students and faculty in and outside of the classroom.  Collaboration leads to improved learning, personal reflection, and increased respect for diverse people.

The AACU called these ideas teamwork and these ideas fall in the “intellectual and practical skills” category (AACU 2005, Liberal Education Outcomes).  Teamwork is defined as “behaviors under the control of individual team members (effort they put into team tasks, their manner of interacting with others on team, and the quantity and quality of contributions they make to team discussions.)”  Collaboration is also considered a “high impact practice (Kuh 2008, High Impact Educational Practices). “Collaborative learning combines two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others, and sharpening one’s own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences. Approaches range from study groups within a course, to team-based assignments and writing, to cooperative projects and research.

5. By the end of the first year, students will develop standards of personal integrity and demonstrate ethical behavior, at a level appropriate for rising sophomores.  Students will act as engaged and informed citizens.  Appropriate levels are to be decided.

The AACU presents these ideas in their category called “individual and social responsibility.” The AACU splits our single focus statement into “civic responsibility and engagement,” and “ethical reasoning.”

Civic engagement is “working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.” (Excerpted from Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, edited by Thomas Ehrlich, published by Oryx Press, 2000, Preface, page vi.) In addition, civic engagement encompasses actions wherein individuals participate in activities of personal and public concern that are both individually life enriching and socially beneficial to the community (AACU, Civic Engagement Value Rubric).

Ethical reasoning is reasoning about right and wrong human conduct. It requires students to be able to assess their own ethical values and the social context of problems, recognize ethical issues in a variety of settings, think about how different ethical perspectives might be applied to ethical dilemmas and consider the ramifications of alternative actions. Students’ ethical self identity evolves as they practice ethical decision-making skills and learn how to describe and analyze positions on ethical issues.

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UMW QEP Outcomes, Oct. 2011

A small group of the QEP committee worked with our original list of outcomes, organized them into groups of similar outcomes, and produced a concise set of potential student learning outcomes for the UMW QEP for the First Year Experience.

These outcomes will continue to be revised and focused.

1)      Students will be exposed to and engage in activities which enhance their ability to analyze and communicate

2)      Students will identify and utilize opportunities to critically evaluate academic material

3)      Students will explore a broad-based liberal arts education by engaging in coursework that enhances their understanding of the sciences and liberal arts

4)      Students will engage in opportunities that help them explore the role that the liberal arts plays in their educational and personal development

5)      Students will have opportunities to engage in activities that require respect and collaboration in and outside of the classroom

6)      Students will have opportunities to learn how to identify, take responsibility for, and achieve their educational and personal goals

7)      Students will have opportunities to develop standards of personal integrity and demonstrate ethical behavior

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