Reinhardt University SACSCOC Compliance Certification

3.5.1 (General Education Competencies)

The institution identifies college-level general education competencies and the extent to which students have attained them.  (General education competencies)

Judgment check box Compliance

Narrative

Reinhardt University is a comprehensive institution with programs that prepare students for a variety of 21st-century careers, yet it remains philosophically grounded in the traditional Liberal Arts through its General Education curriculum.

Identification of college-level general education competencies

Reinhardt’s General Education curriculum is tied directly to the nine General Education Student Learning Outcomes, which are divided among four broadly defined Liberal Arts Domains:

Domain I: Communication—Students will demonstrate

  1. Effective expression of ideas through writing, speech, and a variety of arts experiences.

Domain II: Critical Thinking and Inquiry—Students will demonstrate

  1. Integrative, critical thinking and inquiry-based learning using evidence, logic, reasoning, and calculation.
  2. Informational, technological, and scientific literacies, and knowledge of research methods.
  3. Independent thought and imagination; preparation for lifelong learning.

Domain III: Self, Society and Culture—Students will demonstrate

  1. Knowledge of the traditions of Western civilization and their global context.
  2. Knowledge of the diversity of societies and cultures; the ability to view themselves and the world from cultural and historical perspectives other than their own.

Domain IV: Values and Ethics—Students will demonstrate

  1. Integrity and ethical responsibility.
  2. Understanding of and commitment to physical, emotional and spiritual wellness.
  3. Stewardship and civic engagement, coupled with the ability to work with others both collaboratively and in leadership roles.

These outcomes apply to all undergraduate students, including students who transfer into the degree completion program. The Reinhardt University General Education Student Learning Outcomes are published in the Reinhardt University Undergraduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017. [1]

General Education Curriculum

General Education courses are assigned to each of the four domains. [2] Some areas of the General Education Curriculum address core competencies in humanities/fine arts, mathematics/natural sciences, and social/behavioral sciences. In addition, all first-time first year students are required to take First Year Seminar, a course that both stimulates their ability to think critically and helps them adjust to life in an academic setting.

Reinhardt University’s undergraduate traditional programs, both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, reflect the university’s mission “to educate the whole person by developing intellectual, social, personal, vocational, spiritual and physical dimensions of its students.”  The curriculum, which requires 48-50 credit hours, addresses these dimensions by allowing for a number of choices within the four domains of the General Education USLOs.  For example, in Domain III - Knowledge of Self, Society, and Culture, students must select two history courses, but students may choose HIS 251- American History, or HIS 111 – Western Civilization, or HIS 120-Global History, among others.  In addition, multiple courses in English literature, political and art histories, fine and performing arts expression, religion, multicultural-global studies, and ethics allow students to design a personalized General Education that is both unique and personally fulfilling, while reinforcing core competencies. An extensive list of General Education Options is published in the Undergraduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017. [3]

Student attainment of general education competencies

Process

At Reinhardt, the responsibility for planning the assessment of general education rests with the Director of Institutional Research & Effectiveness and the General Education Task Force.

The Task Force meets periodically to review assessment methods, plans for implementation, and results from the assessments.   Results from the general education assessment reports are disseminated to the University community.

Assessment Measures

As seen in Table 3.5.1-1, Reinhardt uses a mix of direct and indirect measures and qualitative and quantitative approaches to assess its general education outcomes. Each learning outcome is assessed via at least two assessment measures, one of them being always a course-embedded assessment. Program coordinators and/or instructors meet with the OIRE Director to discuss the course-embedded assessment for the sampled courses and use a template similar to the Academic Program Assessment Report to report results of the assessments at the end of the academic year. Most of the course-embedded assessments involve the use of rubrics, pre-post tests, or multiple choice exams. Instructors have to specify an achievement target for each assessment measure. An example of a completed General Education Assessment Report is also provided. [4]  For a discussion of each type of assessment, see the RU General Education Assessment Plan. [5]

Since transfer students in the degree completions programs typically do not take their general education courses at Reinhardt, the following assessment measures are not available for these students: Course-Embedded Assessments, Faculty Course Reflections, and NSSE Survey.

Table 3.5.1-1 RU General Education Assessment Plan

Data collection methods, metrics and sources

Applicable student learning outcomes

Direct or Indirect Measure of student learning

Quantitative or Qualitative Measure of Student Learning Frequency of data collection and review    Person(s) responsible for reviewing data

Traditional Undergraduate Programs

 

 

Course Embedded Assessments

1-9

 

 

Direct

Quantitative

 

 

Annually

Program Coordinators, OIRE Director, General Education Task Force

Faculty Course Reflections

1-9

 

Indirect

Qualitative

 

Every 2 years

OIRE Director & General Education Task Force

ETS Proficiency Profile Test

1-3

Direct

Quantitative

 

Annually

OIRE Director & General Education Task Force

 

Exit Senior Survey

1-9

 

Indirect

Quantitative

 

Annually

OIRE Director & General Education Task Force

 

NSSE Survey

  1,2,6,7,9  

Indirect

Quantitative

Every 2

years

OIRE Director & General Education Task Force

Degree Completion Programs

ETS Proficiency Profile Test         1-3 Direct

Quantitative

 

Annually

OIRE Director & General Education Task Force

 

Exit Senior Survey

 

1,2,6,7,9

 

Indirect

Quantitative

 

Annually

OIRE Director & General Education Task Force

As the table demonstrates, to ensure that the levels to which our students attain the General Education competencies are “college-level,” the University uses the ETS Proficiency Profile and its national norms (learning outcomes 1-3).   Similarly, the NSSE Survey provides college-level norms for learning outcomes 1,2,6,7, and 9.

Assessment Results

The General Education assessment process for 2015-16 yielded positive results overall, but it also clearly laid out an agenda for the 2016-17 academic year.  The complete report of findings is included as evidence [6] and the following is a summary of conclusions based on the analysis of results:

  • The evidence from our course-based assessment processes indicates that Reinhardt courses are preparing students to meet successfully all nine General Education outcomes.  Using course-based mechanisms for the most part, faculty members have generated a considerable body of evidence that General Education courses are helping students to meet the stated outcomes of the general education core.
  • Student satisfaction with their General Education experience is relatively high.  More than 70% of RU respondents give positive responses for 8 of the 9 questions in the Senior Survey that relate to General Education.  In addition, results from the NSSE survey reveal that General Education related satisfaction ratings for the RU seniors are comparable to those at peer institutions.
  • Faculty members express some concern about student performance in areas related to knowledge of research methodologies and informational, technological, and scientific literacy.  In the 2016 QEP Topic Selection Survey, one quarter of the full-time faculty indicated that RU student are not adequately prepared for this learning outcome. Further investigation is needed to determine if this finding is corroborated by results from direct assessments.
  • Student survey results indicate the students might not be as prepared in meeting USLO 5 as they are in meeting the other general education outcomes. For instance, only 60% of the seniors agreed or strongly agreed that their RU education developed their knowledge of western civilizations and their global context. Additional evidence will need to be collected from course-based assessments to determine if students misunderstand what “western civilization” means.
  • There is a need to revise the first general education learning outcome to include effective expression of ideas in the arts.  The first learning outcome needs to be revised to include effective expression in the arts, as there are multiple Music and Theatre courses in the core that satisfy the Communication outcome. In addition, approximately 13% of the traditional students have a major in the performing arts.

During 2016-17, the revision of the first learning outcome was accomplished with a proposal that was approved by the Faculty Senate in February 2017.  In addition the instructors that taught general education courses aligned with USLO 1 were advised to create and share scoring rubrics that give students a clear understanding of the criteria on which they will be graded.

The General Education Assessment Report for 2016-17 points to additional areas of improvement [7]:

  • By and large, direct evidence from our course-based assessment processes indicates that our courses are preparing students to meet successfully most of the RU General Education outcomes.  Using course-based assessments for the most part, faculty members have generated a considerable body of evidence that General Education courses are helping students to meet the stated outcomes of the general education core.
  • However, faculty members continue to express concern about student performance in areas related to knowledge of Western Civilization (USLO 8) and diversity of societies (USLO 9).   Students do not read as much as they are expected to in HIS 111, HIS 112, and SPA 101.
  • In addition, results from the ETS Proficiency Profile indicate a slight decline in scores compared to last year.  RU scores are still higher than the national median for four-year colleges and universities in Mathematics (54th percentile), but they are lower in Critical Thinking (44th percentile), Reading (44th percentile), and Writing (42nd percentile). In addition, our students score higher than the national median in Humanities (54th percentile), but lower in Social Sciences (45th percentile) and Natural Sciences (43rd percentile).
  • Self-reported student satisfaction with the achievement of Gen Ed Outcomes was lower than last year.  One should note, however, that the Noel Levitz survey uses a 7-item Likert scale while the internal RU Exit Survey that was administered last year employed a 5-item Likert scale.  The internal exit survey should be adapted in future years to conform to the scale used by the Noel Levitz instrument. Additionally, the benchmarks of success should be adjusted to reflect the 7-item Likert scale.

Conclusion

In summary, Reinhardt provides a portfolio of documentation to support its judgment of compliance with this comprehensive standard. Reinhardt University has a history of identifying college-level general education competencies and assessing student attainment of them.  Reinhardt also has ongoing processes for assessing and, as needed, revising the General Education Curriculum through a faculty committee.

 

Supporting Documents

[1] General Education Student Learning Outcomes, Reinhardt University Catalog 2016-2017,pp. 8-9

[2] General Education Description in the Reinhardt University Catalog 2016-2017, pp. 57-59

[3] General Education Options, Reinhardt University Catalog 2016-2017, pp. 60-63

[4] Sample of course-embedded assessment

[5] Reinhardt University General Education Assessment Plan

[6] 2015-16 Reinhardt University General Education Assessment Report

[7] 2016-17 Reinhardt University General Education Assessment Report