As North Carolina’s urban research university, UNC Charlotte endeavors to “Educate a diverse student body through an integrated academic experience that positions graduates for personal success….” Consistent with this academic goal, faculty have developed learning outcomes statements that describe the habits of mind, attitudes, knowledge, and skills that learners should have after successfully completing their program of study. In order to ascertain how well students are attaining these learning outcomes, faculty have developed assessment plans and appropriate measures and use the results to make changes or improvements to teaching and learning.
The Assessment Process
Assessment at UNC Charlotte is a cyclical process with an end goal of improving teaching and learning. Faculty identify and review their programs’ student learning outcome statements and the results from the previous year. In their respective courses they provide ample learning opportunities and activities to help students practice the skills and build new knowledge. In most cases faculty assess students in select courses such as senior seminar, capstone, or research methods courses. Using a variety of approaches and measures such as embedded questions on exams, papers, projects, case studies, performances, etc., they collect evidence of student learning. Faculty analyze, share, and discuss the results and use those results to inform decisions about the curriculum and teaching and learning.
The Integration of General Education
“The General Education Program is central to UNC Charlotte’s basic mission of providing all of its undergraduates with a liberal arts education. It provides all undergraduate students, regardless of their majors, with the foundations of the liberal education they will need to be informed people who have the ability to act thoughtfully in society, to make critical judgments, and to enjoy a life dedicated to learning and the pleasures of intellectual and artistic pursuits.” In order to accomplish this, written communication, oral communication, and critical thinking skills are integrated within the majors. Students are expected to communicate fluently, compose, grapple with issues, use language deliberately, and reflect on and revise their work. The integration of written and oral communication in the majors support the mission of Communication Across the Curriculum to promote the idea that students who “[communicate] to learn and learn to [communicate]” think more critically and creatively, engage more deeply in their learning, and are better able to transfer what they have learned from course to course, and from context to context.
Assessment in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) engages students in such a way that allow them to “stretch their innate talents as they explore new concepts and gain a solid grounding in liberal arts and sciences and in emerging fields of study. By the time our students graduate, they are prepared for leadership and service and equipped with the tools for success, wherever they choose to live and work.”
A quick look at assessment in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. These examples of student learning outcomes assessments provide a snapshot of student attainment at the program level.