General Studies Assessment Plan
General Studies Courses currently offered in the Philosophy Program:
PHIL 100GS Introduction to Philosophy
PHIL 120GS Introduction to Ethics
PHIL 260GS Philosophy of Culture
PHIL 314GS Philosophy of Religion
PHIL 360GS Philosophy of Science
At least two General Studies courses are offered each semester in the Philosophy Program (PHIL 100GS and PHIL 120GS), and often a third one (PHIL 260GS, 314GS or 360GS).
General Studies Objectives
General Studies courses in Philosophy will cover the following objectives of the General Studies Program:
- General objectives:
- The capability for critical thinking, reasoning and analyzing.
- Effective communication skills including the ability to read, speak and write effectively, using the materials, ideas, and discourse modes of specific academic areas.
- Humanities category objectives:
- Demonstrate the ability to comprehend primary texts, i.e., the work of literary figures, historical figures, philosophers, and critics; film and theatrical performance; works of art; music in performance and/or notation.
- Demonstrate the ability to form and support, in writing, coherent positions on issues relevant to primary texts.
- Demonstrate the ability to use, in speaking and writing, the forms of reference and the manners of discourse appropriate to the particular discipline.
- Philosophical Perspectives objectives:
- Explain the following areas of study and their concepts: metaphysics (those things that transcend nature), epistemology (theories of knowledge), ethics (the difference between right and wrong, and good and evil) and ontology (the basic properties of existence).
- Discuss and analyze in oral or written form primary texts for their metaphysical, epistemological, ethical and ontological significance, not merely for their historical value or empirical claims.
- Writing Samples (Measures Objectives A2, A3, B1, B2, B3, C1, C2)
The following steps will be taken, as time and opportunity allows, to assess the effectiveness of the program with respect to the General Studies objectives through the written work of students in General Studies courses.
- In order to establish a baseline, a writing sample—such as an essay exam, a position paper, or a formalized portion of a student’s journal—will be collected from five randomly picked students from at least three different General Studies courses offered during the year. These samples will be collected at the beginning of the semester in which the course is being offered. The Assessment Committee (which will consist of all the members of the philosophy program) will read and evaluate these writing samples, using the Writing Sample Assessment Rubric. These samples will remain anonymous, using only a number for identification, until after a consensus has been reached by the committee on the rating each sample ought to receive. These samples, along with their ratings, will be filed for comparison with writing samples from those same students collected later in the course.
- Upon completion of the course, another writing sample—such as an essay exam, a position paper, or a formalized portion of a student’s journal—will be collected from those same students. These samples will be from work done at or near the end of the course. The Assessment Committee will read and evaluate these samples, using the same rubric as was used for the introductory level samples, and again maintaining anonymity until an evaluative consensus has been reached.
- The two samples will then be compared to assess the effectiveness of the program as a whole as evidenced by the improvement (or the lack of it) in the writing of these students, viewed as a group.
- The Philosophy faculty will keep a portfolio of these comparison samples, categorized by year. Yearly comparisons can then be made in order to establish a trend in whether or not the Program is effective in meeting the General Studies objectives. A steady improvement in meeting the objectives by a majority of these students over several years will be considered a positive assessment of the effectiveness of the program; a failure to see such improvement will be considered a negative assessment of the program. In the case of a negative assessment, all the member of the faculty will meet to discuss and implement whatever changes are needed to improve program effectiveness.
A consensus is defined as an average rating by at least two members of the committee that is the same or within one rating level of each other. Samples are read and rated independently, but if a consensus does not emerge after the independent reading, members of the committee will re-read the sample and discuss its merits (or demerits) until a consensus is reached.
Assessment Schedule and Sampling
Three different General Studies courses will be chosen for assessment each year. Since PHIL 100GS (Introduction to Philosophy) and PHIL 120GS (Introduction to Ethics) are offered every semester, they will usually be two of the General Studies courses assessed each year. The third course will then be one of the non-introductory level General Studies courses. Since these non-introductory courses are taught on a rotating basis, they will also be assessed on a rotating basis (a different one each year). On the occasions when two non-introductory General Studies courses are offered in the same year, they will both be assessed, with the third course that year being one of the introductory courses.
From each course, five student’s work will be used for the assessment. These students will be randomly selected as follows:
After a course has been chosen for the assessment, a member of the Assessment committee other than the instructor of that course will pick five numbers, corresponding to the numbered roster for the class. The instructor of the course will then match up the numbers chosen with the students on his roster, and make a note of who the students are, so that writing samples can be collected later in the course from those same students.
Thus, fifteen different students will comprise the assessment sample each year.
The three General Studies courses to be assessed during the academic year will be chosen by the Program Director at the beginning of each fall semester. Initial and final writing samples will be collected at the appropriate times within the respective semester during which the chosen courses are taught. Evaluation of the writing samples will be done by the Assessment Committee at the end of the spring semester. Assessment reports on General Studies courses will be included in the yearly Program Assessment Report, submitted by October 1. Data collection for the assessment of General Studies courses will commence in the fall of the 2005-2006 academic year.
Assessment of the Assessment Plan
The philosophy faculty will annually (by May 1) review the assessment plan, using the following guiding questions:
- What do we want students in our General Studies courses to know, do, or value?
- Are the methods of assessing our General Studies courses effective and consistent with what we want students in these courses to know, do, or value?
- Are we learning what we want to know about what students in our General Studies courses to know, do, or value?
The Philosophy faculty will combine the answers to these questions with the analyzed yearly results of student assessment and decide on the assessment activities that will be continued; those that will be modified; those that will be discontinued; and those that should be added. These decisions will be included in the Assessment report.
plan developed: 06/06/05