University of Charleston- CIC/DQP Consortium Project

The University of Charleston is a private institution offering associate, baccalaureate and graduate programs. Rather than completing a traditional general education program, baccalaureate students at the University of Charleston are required to demonstrate achievement of six Liberal Learning Outcomes (LLOs): Citizenship, Communication, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Ethical Practice, and Science. Demonstration of achievement occurs through learning activities embedded in selected courses, within and outside of the student’s chosen discipline.

Use of the DQP

The DQP framework is being used as the model for developing specific descriptors for demonstration of LLOs at all degree levels. The framework has helped us sharpen our thinking about differentiation in levels of skills and knowledge, and more clearly articulate what our graduates should know and be able to do with their degrees. Our initial decision to participate in the DQP project has had unexpected but welcome influences on curriculum and assessment at the University of Charleston. We regard this project as a valuable learning experience.

Opportunities for demonstrating outcomes achievement at Foundational, Mid-level, or Advanced proficiencies vary in academic programs. This presents a challenge for transfer students who may have missed opportunities that occur early in a specific program, and for students moving into six-year graduate professional programs (e.g. Pharmacy and Physician Assistant) who would like to earn a bachelor’s degree. Articulating expectations for achievement at levels above and below the baccalaureate is expected to resolve many of these issues.

Assessment of Liberal Learning Outcomes

We assess our LLOs using multiple measures:

Student work embedded in LLO courses is posted to our ePortfolio and assessed using university-developed rubrics, which are revised as necessary. Current iterations can be seen at under “LLO Information.”

The ETS Proficiency Profile aligns with five LLOs, and is given to all freshmen, transfer students and graduating seniors.

The Defining Issues Test (DIT-2) addresses the sixth LLO and is also given to freshmen, transfers, and graduating seniors.

Indirect evidence for some LLOs is gathered using NSSE data.

While our DQP project has been invaluable in articulating competencies for our outcomes at all degree levels it has also brought into question whether our LLO rubrics are giving us good information about student performance. Conversations on this topic are ongoing in Liberal Learning Roundtables this year, and will likely result in revisions of most LLO rubrics.

Embedding UC rubrics in an electronic portfolio system created an efficient way for UC to gather assessment data. Initial data showed abnormally high scores on all outcomes, i.e. “scoring inflation.” Faculty feedback revealed unclear criteria on some rubrics, emphasizing the need for continuous scrutiny and revision as appropriate. Further discussions uncovered the need for faculty development about using rubrics effectively and on the differences between assessment and grading. These topics will set the stage for an ongoing program of faculty development on assessment topics.