What assessment practices does NCA require for General Studies?
The General Studies program has to demonstrate that it meets the overall program learning outcomes (evaluating information, thinking critically, communicating clearly, understand diversity). It does so using a variety of instruments, such as the nationally normed CAAP test of critical thinking and writing.
What kind of assessment will departments have to do?
Any course in a General Studies category will have to meet the learning outcomes for that category, and will have to follow the assessment procedures specified by the General Studies Council. These include teaching the course so that it meets the learning outcomes for the category the course is in, and using common assessment instruments (from the General Studies Council) for that category. These NCA-required practices help ensure that students are learning what they should be.
Why will we have to use the same standardized instruments?
For assessment to be valid, a common instrument has to be used. If departments each assess the General Studies courses they offer in different ways, there is no way to compare how well students are learning.
How often will my department have to do assessment of General Studies courses we teach?
Fortunately, the intensive level of department involvement in assessment of General Studies will be reduced quite a bit. Very few courses will have to be assessed each year. Rather, there will be a schedule based on a three-year rotation. The reduced assessment load is contingent, however, on whether the renewed program is implemented.
Doesn’t having common learning outcomes and assessment instruments violate academic freedom?
The General Studies program has always had required learning outcomes. NCA (and best practices) now mandate common assessment instruments as well. Any General Studies course will have to meet the learning outcomes and assess using the common assessment instruments. How the instructor meets the learning outcomes of the course, what materials s/he uses, and what teaching practices s/he employs is entirely up to the instructor’s judgment. Thus, academic freedom is in no way restricted by NCA requirements or by the policies of the General Studies program.