HLC Academy Project
Higher Learning Commission Academy for the Assessment of Student Learning
Student Writing at Saint Mary's; From Good to Great in Four Years
Describe this Student Learning Project
The Student Learning Outcome to be assessed is "students will write with precision and style," which is taken directly from our current Statement of Philosophy and Purpose.
The Assessment Committee will work closely with faculty and others who share responsibility for the Writing Program, courses, and graduation requirements that support student writing development at the College. Operating as a pseudo-Writing Assessment Committee, we will collect and analyze data from various constituencies to gain knowledge on how our students develop as writers during their four years here. This will include understanding their progress through courses in fulfilling general-education and major requirements, as well as elective requirements toward graduation. Also, the College is revising our general education program, so we will work closely with the Gen Ed Committee to promote the integration of assessment throughout the curriculum, regarding both writing and other learning outcomes we are developing.
Desired Results from the Project
We want to answer the following questions:
What do we mean by "writing with precision and style" in our statement of an outcome for our students?
How do students progress over four years and become better writers than when they arrived at Saint Mary's?
How do we improve this process such that more of them become even better writers before they graduate?
We have some evidence of individual student writing capabilities based on assessment of papers in designated writing courses as they begin and complete the required writing course (W course) that most students complete during their first year. We have additional evidence of their final capabilities as they end with the completion of a senior writing requirement in the major. We are missing evidence of how they progress in the intervening years. Examples of the kinds of data we may gather include the following:
How much (often) do they write in general education courses that are not designated W courses?
How much (often) do they write in elective courses?
How much (often) do they write in courses in the major?
Where do they seek and obtain assistance in improving their writing?
What kinds of writing do they do in our different majors and minors as well as general education courses?
Planning and Managing the Student Learning Project
We begin with a focus on writing in classes. Later we can expand to include some co-curricular aspects. The Assessment Committee will:
-identify the types of data we want to gather about writing (student artifacts and numerical data)
-analyze this data to determine what data is not being gathered or archived
-work with the appropriate committees and departments to identify how best to capture the missing data and artifacts, finding tools for our work
-offer many opportunities to discuss what we are doing and what we are finding in terms of assessment tools with faculty by venues most appropriate to what we find
-work with Institutional Research and other groups on campus to fill in the gaps, finding tools and instruments as needed.