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Assessment Highlights

The following examples demonstrate some of the ways the School of Undergraduate Studies translates assessment results into program improvement actions.

Flags Assessment

Findings: In a Fall 2012 end-of-semester survey of three Ethics and Leadership (EL) flagged courses, 94% of student respondents reported that their course frequently or sometimes gave them the chance to discuss ethical issues; 62% of respondents indicated that the course had substantially or moderately improved their ability to apply ethical reasoning to real-world situations. Instructors provided incentives for students to take the survey, which helped lead to a response rate of more than 80% (736/900).

Actions: The Center for Core Curriculum hosted a “Strategies for Teaching Ethics in Arts & Humanities Classrooms” panel featuring the three instructors who surveyed their courses. The instructors reflected on what they learned and shared ways to incorporate the EL flag into large lecture courses. During the panel, one instructor commented that, based on the survey feedback, she added more structured assignments and opportunities for students to apply ethical reasoning to real-world situations. Another instructor noted that the survey confirmed her belief that her use of clickers and online discussion groups improved student engagement. The third instructor, in response to student comments on the survey, refashioned the structure of her course to better integrate the ethics component with her course content. Overall, the instructors indicated that student survey feedback was helpful to them in making improvements to their courses.

Texas Success Initiative

Findings: In a Spring 2013 survey administered to academic advisors, 77% of the 84 respondents indicated that they had advised a student with a TSI bar. Of that 77%, only half agreed or strongly agreed that they were comfortable advising a student with a TSI bar. In addition, only half of that 77% agreed or strongly agreed that they know the steps a student with a TSI bar must take in order to clear that bar.

Actions: Based on the responses to the survey, the TSI coordinator gave a presentation to the Academic Counselors Association on the purpose of TSI bars and the process by which students’ bars are cleared.

Making Decisions with Data

Findings: Funded by a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), a UGS team developed a professional development website to help educators incorporate data-driven decision making into their daily work. Through a needs assessment survey and focus groups, the team determined that teachers were most interested in acquiring and applying data collection and assessment skills at the classroom level.

Actions: In responses to the findings of the needs assessment, the UGS team designed the website to include a classroom-level track in addition to the department and institution- level tracks of data-driven decision making. The website launched in March 2013, featuring a kickoff presentation from Dr. Eric Mazur of Harvard. Dr. Mazur focused his remarks in particular on the power of data-driven decision making in his classroom and how he used data to improve pedagogy.