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Washington State University Assessment of Teaching and Learning

Using Results of Course-Embedded Assignments to “Close the Loop” (Psychology)

“Painless,” “organic,” “minimally invasive” – these might be some of the adjectives used to describe the annual assessment activities of the Department of Psychology. Their practices offer others a model of efficiency in assessment, while providing useful – and actionable – information about student learning at both course and program levels.  » More …

Integrated Learning and Assessment in the Capstone (Landscape Architecture)

Each spring, WSU’s Landscape Architecture seniors get the chance to experience a landscape outside of the classroom and to interact with the people who live in, work in, and care about that landscape. Their senior capstone course is a service-learning studio that challenges them to generate designs in response to the needs of a particular place and people, applying their knowledge and skills in a real-world setting. The title of the capstone course, “The Confluence,” reinforces this goal: similar to the junction of rivers, students are asked to merge many things into one, integrating their prior learning and experience. The senior project embodies more than a compilation of skill sets, however; it is an opportunity for students to develop, expand, and challenge all they have learned–to see and create anew.  » More …

Visualizing the Curriculum (Interior Design)

Room 118 in Carpenter Hall in the School of Design and Construction contains tables stacked with syllabi and assignment prompts. Every wall is covered with design presentation boards and other student work. The room holds course materials from every required course in the Interior Design curriculum along with samples of student products from all courses for about 20% of their students. This spring, peer evaluators from the Interior Design professional accrediting organization, the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), visited campus and this room served the important function of demonstrating to the evaluators how the curriculum meets CIDA’s nearly 100 criteria for student skills and knowledge.  » More …

Using Senior Exit Survey Results to Inform Program Decisions (School of Biological Sciences)

Senior exit surveys and interviews give students an opportunity to “weigh in” on their undergraduate experiences. Questions may include those about curriculum, faculty, offices and services, social opportunities, and career preparation. Academic programs can use students’ responses to inform decisions and improve student learning.

The School of Biological Sciences (SBS) has conducted exit surveys or interviews with graduating seniors for over five years. Their goal is to understand students’ perceptions of strengths and weaknesses of the program, and to get student input on how to adjust to make the program more effective. Larry Hufford, Director of the School of Biological Sciences, describes the practice as “very informative.” Based on what they have learned from students’ feedback along with other information, the program has made the following adjustments:

  • created workshops for students on research and career opportunities,
  • shifted teaching assignments,
  • worked with individual faculty to make adjustments to courses, and
  • made other curricular adjustments.

» More …

Assessing Students’ Abilities to Apply Concepts to Real-world Problems (School of Food Science)

Solving real-world problems in an industry setting is critical for professionals in the field of Food Science, so faculty in the School of Food Science want to know how well their students meet this goal before they graduate. The School, a joint program between Washington State University and the University of Idaho, recently selected four competencies required by their professional accrediting organization, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), and they piloted a new process to assess student achievement in these areas. They gathered student scores from various course assignments and exam questions that aligned well with the competencies. The instructor for each course developed benchmarks. As an example, a benchmark might be that 85% of students should score at or above a certain point by the time they graduate in order for the program’s goal to be considered met. Students met some benchmarks and didn’t meet others. Analysis of one area of relative weakness indicated that students were capable of answering direct, specific questions but struggled with more open-ended questions that required application of multiple concepts simultaneously: a student may know that heat denatures whey proteins, for instance, but not be able to explain that the reason a film forms on the sides of a pot of milk being heated on a stove is due to whey proteins denaturing and sticking to the sides.  » More …

2014 University Catalog Will Include Learning Outcomes for Each Degree

The 2014 WSU Catalog will include student learning outcomes for each degree offered at WSU. In April, the Registrar’s annual Call for Copy went out to WSU departments, with the request that each degree provide current student learning outcomes as part of the department’s information. For the catalog, many departments provide a condensed, narrative form of their student learning outcomes. » More …

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