Learning Outcomes and Assessment | Faculty Success Stories

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  • Institutional Rsch / Assessmt
    202-885-6160
    Fax: 202-885-1195
    oira@american.edu
    Leonard, Room 1st floor

    Froslid Jones, Karen
    Assistant Provost, Institutional Research and Assessment

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Portrait of Patrick Jackson
Photo by Jeff Watts

School of International Service

A multi-method approach was used, with review of syllabi, focus groups with faculty and Alumni survey, resulting in the following changes in curriculum:

  • Changed one-semester methodology requirement to two-semesters.
  • Redesigned the methodology training.
  • Redefinition of senior level capstone integrative classes, a whole course category in which students may integrate!
Professor Patrick Jackson, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, in a recent interview said: “ People shouldn’t be scared of the word assessment.” He later added “the advantage of the term is its framework, that you just have to sit down and focus on it directly.” He concluded, “I think it is a discussion that everybody can benefit from.”

Portrait of Kimberly Cowell Meyers
Photo by Jeff Watts

Government

The department formed a committee of seven faculty member and evaluated B.A. in Political Science, their largest program. Their assessment result in the following changes:

  • Common learning outcomes developed for five General Education courses and research methods courses in B.A.
  • The learning outcomes are now posted on the program’s website.
  • After reviewing syllabi, syllabi revision requested for some courses.
  • Some of the undergraduate requirements have changed, e.g. requiring in-house methods course rather than a menu option.
Kimberly Cowell-Meyers, Assistant Professor, in a recent interview said: “Our assessments have been of global benefit! I have been amazed at how much assessment touches on reconfigured curriculum, web site content, communication with students, course sequencing and numbering--even communication among faculty. We now have a much better handle on what we are doing.”

Portrait of Brian Yates
Photo by Jeff Watts

Psychology

GRE-Psychology test scores were used to understand how well the students met the program learning outcomes. Results showed:

  • Psychology students performed well overall in an assessment of general knowledge in the field,
  • But their three areas of weakness on the test of B.A. students have become new areas of teaching emphasis for the faculty who teach “foundational courses.”
Professor Brian Yates, Psychology Professor, said in a recent interview: “It would be hypocritical to not do for teaching what we do for research.” He also added: “we need to name the destination for a course and see if we go there.” Yates said: “we treat each assessment like a research project.” “We can’t control for everything, we can’t randomly assign – but there is much we can do.”

Portrait of Albert Cheh
Photo by Jeff Watts

Environmental Studies

In the new undergraduate major of Environmental Studies, students in courses at the 100-, 200-, and 300-level took a reputable test of “Environmental Literacy.”

  • Faculty found that students' scores for Environmental Literacy increased as students progressed in the major.
  • Also students at all levels had far greater environmental literacy than a national U.S. sample.
Albert Cheh, Department Chair, in a recent interview said: “the professionals had just used a survey so we thought we should use one. Even our typical first-year students did very well. And the survey showed that the average American knows very little.” He further adds, “This one survey already has us working on a more rigorous test of environmental literacy and, in fact, looking at revision of our curriculum.”

Portrait of Lynne Arneson
Photo by Jeff Watts

Biology

As a result of a survey given to senior biology majors in their final Capstone course, the following decision was made by the faculty:

  • To increase the use of Spectrophotometer with undergraduates
Professor Lynne Arneson, Adjunct Professorial Lecturer, in a recent interview said: “Our assessment involved faculty directly observing undergrad student abilities to operate various pieces of lab equipment. Students also estimated their own abilities with each type of equipment. They voiced some concerns about using the spectrophotometer.”