The team that examined the outcomes concluded that cutting the number of outcomes from six to three added clarity and coherence to the task of assessing Social Science assessment.

In responding to the different questions presented to it, the Social Science team formulated the following conclusions:

Student Learning Outcomes that are measurable or observable:

The three student learning outcomes for the social science requirement were all deemed measurable or observable through a variety of means, including papers, projects, exams, quizzes, and so on.

Direct evidence of student learning, though in addition indirect evidence may be used:

Direct evidence for student learning can be obtained through grading rubrics that emphasize issues such as students’ ability to form testable hypotheses, develop research designs that apply those hypothesis to data, offer data collection schemes, and so on.

Student products that give us this evidence:

Student products would include essays, papers, quizzes, exams, posters and other graded work.

Collection points for these products and performances:

Each semester, a sample of student work would be drawn from a subset of the courses that satisfy the social science requirement. Over time, all courses that satisfy the social science requirement would be sampled.

Procedure for evaluating this evidence:

Once the sample is drawn, it would then be assessed by a committee of social scientists. Each assignment would be assessed using a simple three point scale (less than satisfactory, satisfactory, more than satisfactory) for each learning outcome. Each assignment would be assessed by at least two members of the committee. In order to assure objectivity, no member of the committee would be teaching a course that meets the social science requirement during the assessment period.

Procedure for using this evaluation to improve student learning:

Once the sample is assessed, the committee would provide the assessment results to instructors who teach courses that meet the social science requirement. The committee could also meet with these instructors to discuss how student performance might be enhanced in cases where individual learning outcomes are not being met. If a learning outcome is consistently not being achieved, it might be revised or dropped.

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

The length of the entire assessment cycle would depend on the number of courses that meet the social science requirement. In general, the greater the number of courses that meet the requirement, the longer the cycle. Lengthening the cycle helps to reduce the burden on those serving on the assessment committee. Yet, an effort would be made to cover all social science courses within the span of three year.

Other observations and suggestions:

Is some degree of uniformity required across the different CCS goals? Or can each goal be assessed using a completely different procedure? This might be an empirical question; the procedure identified here should be tried on specific courses & then revised.

Is it possible for individual instructors to objectively assess the work of their own students? Some people on our team believe that there is a clear conflict of interest for faculty members to assess their own courses; others believe that self-assessment is possible.