In Fall 2012 a Core evaluation team was organized and assessment of the University Core Curriculum was initiated under the direction of Dr. David Slavsky, Core Director. As of Fall 2017, assessment of student learning in the Core has been completed for Tier 1 and Tier 2 courses in all six developmentally sequenced Knowledge Areas and all four Knowledge Areas that require one course only. In addition, students in Tier 2 courses were surveyed and a sample of faculty were interviewed about their experiences in Core courses. The full timeline for Core assessment is shown below.
Wide representation in assessment study
The assessment project in its entirety included 254 sections across 60 different Core courses taught by 150 instructors from 18 academic units/departments in which the work of more than 6000 students was assessed in relation to learning outcomes for each of the Core Knowledge Areas. This sample included 40% of the 150 courses approved in the 2012 version of Loyola’s Core.
Assessment plans created by faculty within the discipline
Assessment of student learning outcomes for the various Knowledge Areas was designed and implemented by faculty within the departments that developed and teach these Core courses. The types of assessment tools utilized across the ten Knowledge Areas varied by department and primarily included pre- and post-essays scored with use of a rubric and pre- and post-quizzes (multiple choice or short answer) scored with a key.
Growth in student learning
Overall, results from these assessments showed positive growth or end of semester achievement for student learning in some or all competencies across 100% of the Knowledge Areas. This positive growth was found across Tier 1, Tier 2 and single-course Knowledge Areas. The degree of student academic growth varied across Knowledge Areas, departments, courses and sections. Results are summarized for each Knowledge Area and include characteristics of the assessment plans, sample characteristics, learning outcomes assessed, and assessment findings (Tables 1-4).
Students’ views of the Core
In a survey of 297 students enrolled in ten randomly sampled Tier 2 courses during Spring 2017, over 50% of students surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that their Tier 1 classes helped them learn in, and were relevant to, their Tier 2 classes. On average students made positive self-assessments of how well they grew in their abilities to meet Core learning outcome competencies.
Faculty views of the Core
During Spring 2017 a random sample of 85 faculty who had taught in the Core in Fall 2016 were invited to an interview to share feedback regarding the 2012 Core. Of the faculty who responded, positive comments highlighted the impact of Core on the knowledge and skills of students, as well as values that would have long-range impact. Faculty were divided regarding the current structure of the Core with some noting its greater coherence and opportunities to collaborate with colleagues, and others preferring the wider range of course options of the previous Core.
Using assessment findings to improve student learning
All academic departments that contribute to the Core plan to discuss assessment results within their units and revise offerings based on insights gained. The assessment team recommends that for future evaluations, “… to more explicitly link the assessment process with the decision making process so all involved understand the importance and potential of gathering these data about the educational process and outcomes within the Core and within other University endeavors.” _____________________________________
Core Evaluation Team:
Stacy Wenzel, PhD, Center for Science and Mathematics Education
David Slavsky, PhD, Assistant Provost, Office of Institutional Effectiveness and former Director, University Core
Natalie Mine, BA, Center for Science and Math Education
Nayantara Abraham, MA, Center for Science and Mathematics Education