Student Learning Outcomes that are measurable or observable:

FYS 1: Demonstrate critical thinking strategies related to interpretation and evaluation of texts (verbal, visual, or performative) in the context of course materials.
FYS 2: [CURRENT] Examine personal assumptions and biases, thereby building informed perspectives.
[HOWEVER, WE PROPOSE A REVISION, FOR FACULTY APPROVAL] Identify and consider one’s assumptions, thereby building informed perspectives.

Direct evidence of student learning, though in addition indirect evidence may be used:
Perhaps the best way to respond is to summarize the pilot and full-scale assessment exercises that have been completed and are ongoing, since they reference such evidence. See immediately below.

Student products or performances that give us this evidence:

As was reported by Professor Donahue, the FYS Program organized a pilot assessment of the Information Literacy outcome, which was completed in the spring of 2013. On the basis of that pilot, the Program launched a full-scale assessment this year: Papers have been collected from all enrollees in FYSs; a statistically-meaningful subset will be read and analyzed for the evidence provided as to the effectiveness of the Program in realizing the intended Information Literacy outcome (outcome 3).

Similarly, a pilot-program for assessing outcomes 1 and 2 was launched this year. Enrollees in 5 FYSs were asked to write a 750-word essay in response to a prompt; these will be read and analyzed for evidence as to the Seminars’ effectiveness in attaining outcomes 1 and 2. On the basis of the pilot, a full-scale assessment of outcomes 1 and 2 will be conducted in 2015/16; we opted to await the conclusion of the pilot before determining the optimal design of the full-scale assessment. For example, we could simply take the design of the pilot and extend it across all 43 FYS sections in the fall of 2015, with no changes in design; or we could design a different kind of exercise.

Collection points for these products and performances:

The collection points are as described immediately above.

Procedure for evaluating this evidence:

The procedure for evaluating the evidence is as outlined in the preceding sections, which describe the pilot and full-scale assessment activities for outcomes 1, 2, and 3.

Procedure for using this evaluation to improve student learning:
With respect to the Information Literacy component, it has been suggested, for example, that that outcome will be more effectively attained if the parameters of assignments were made more rigorous and standardized (or regularized) across all FYSs. We could mandate a particular minimum number of information sources, for example, or insist that they be of a particular type (i.e., NOT Wikipedia entries, but articles in journals included in J-Stor, for example).

With respect to the more general matter of the use of the results of the assessment to enhance student learning, it was, as a process, suggested that there be an annual review of the effectiveness of the FYS Program, based upon such data as those generated by the assessment activities, where the results are shared with all FYS instructors, and that there be directed conversations/facilitated meetings as to how to improve FYSs, on the basis of the data generated from the assessment exercises.

Is entire cycle as short as possible, but no more than three years long?

Yes, it will be completed as of academic year 2015/16.