As UNLV’s revised undergraduate general education program has been implemented over the past five years, University Libraries has partnered with the Office of General Education to offer a series of multi-day Faculty Institutes. Librarians and classroom instructors co-construct courses and assignments that engage students in critical thinking and offer authentic research experiences, addressing UNLV’s undergraduate learning outcomes, with a particular focus on critical thinking and inquiry.
During this time, the importance of assessing the outcomes of general education efforts has greatly increased, with policy makers, accreditation agencies, administrators, parents, and students all expecting evidence of the return on their investment in general education. This increased accountability, as well as the steady rise in competency-based programs, has presented unique challenges to assessment professionals, faculty, and the academy in general. How do we satisfy these external pressures without losing the integrity of our curriculum, individual academic autonomy, and the intellectual diversity and rigor associated with a well-rounded education? The Libraries has worked with the Office of General Education and the Office of Academic Assessment to assess the outcomes of the Faculty Institutes. We have identified positive outcomes, including deeper collaborations between classroom instructors and librarians, increased demand for librarians providing face to face instruction, assignment descriptions that more clearly articulate purpose, task, and criteria, and assessment plans that are more closely tied to learning outcomes; moreover, student learning has been assessed using samples of student work from across courses and departments.
VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education), a tool developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), has been used to assess two of the more recent Institutes covering the Milestone Experience and the Culminating Experience. We used a combination of three of the VALUE rubrics (Critical Thinking, Inquiry/Analysis, and Information Literacy) to assess student work that was influenced by these Institutes.
We learned that students, from a variety of disciplines in these upper-level courses that fulfill the Milestone and Culminating Experiences general education requirements, are fairly successful at finding, evaluating, and using information. We also determined that greatest need for development is in investigating evidence: questioning authority and comparing different points of view.
If you are interested in creating or revising an assignment that will require students to find, evaluate, investigate, and use information, a library faculty member would be happy to work with you!