Institutional Research News

Plan for Assessing LAC Learning Goals

Posted by Amanda Werts on August 18, 2017

In the 16-17 academic year, IREP staff in consultation with the University’s LAC Curriculum Committee developed a plan for assessing the liberal arts core goals. The University’s Institutional Effectiveness Committee (IEC) approved this plan in the Spring 2017 semester.

Each year, faculty will assess one of the LAC learning goals (quantitative and scientific reasoning, writing, critical thinking, intercultural, and interdisciplinary). Because of the reliance on assessment method, our learning objectives will be determined by the way in which the campus chooses to assess the goal. See below for details about assessing these goals.

Year One (17-18) Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning

A small team of faculty will pilot the two possible tests in Fall 2017 semester: The Natural World – 9 developed by James Madison University’s Center for Assessment & Research Studies and managed by Madison Assessment and QuaRCS (Quantitative Reasoning for College Science assessment) developed through an NSF grant by a team of researchers originally at the University of Arizona. The test will be given to freshman and senior students in Spring 2018 (see below for testing strategy).

The Natural World - 9 QuaRCS
• Describe the methods of inquiry that lead to mathematical truth and scientific knowledge and be able to distinguish science from pseudo-science

• Use theories and models as unifying principles that help us understand natural phenomena and make predictions

• Recognize the interdependence of applied research, basic research, and technology, and how they affect society

• Illustrate the interdependence between developments in science and social and ethical issues

• Use graphical, symbolic, and numerical methods to analyze, organize, and interpret natural phenomena

• Discriminate between association and causation, and identify the types of evidence used to establish causation

• Formulate hypotheses, identify relevant variables, and design experiments to test hypotheses

• Evaluate the credibility, use, and misuse of scientific and mathematical information in scientific developments and public-policy issues

• Read graphs & tables;

• Understand basic concepts of arithmetic

• Understand basic concepts of proportional reasoning;

• Understand basic concepts of estimation,

• Understand basic concepts of percentages,

• Understand basic concepts of statistics/probability,

• Understand basic concepts of area/volume,

• Understand basic concepts of error, and

• Understand basic concepts of unit conversions/dimensional analysis


Year Two (18-19) Writing

A team of faculty developed a rubric and student learning objectives using best practices literature from writing studies and assessment in the summer of 2017. This rubric and learning objectives will be used in 18-19 to assess writing on campus if there is a sufficient number faculty in the fall 2017 or spring 2018 semesters who are able to pilot the rubric in their class room(s) to test feasibility and provide feedback. If sufficient opportunities for piloting are not possible, we will use the AACU written communication rubric.

UNCA developed rubric AACU
• The writer develops the content of the paper through the use of structure. Content
•The writer uses genre and discipline specific formal and informal rules to guide formatting, organization, and stylistic (including citation) choices. Genre/Disciplinary Conventions
•The writer uses credible evidence to support the paper’s thesis/purpose. Sources/Evidence
• The writer uses sentence structure, punctuation, and word choice to support the thesis/purpose and lead the reader through the argument/analysis. Syntax
• The writer supports a well-reasoned thesis/purpose. Thesis/Purpose
• The writer contextualizes the thesis/purpose. Significance/Context
•Students demonstrate a thorough understanding of context, audience, and purpose that is responsive to the assigned task(s) and focuses all elements of the work.
•Students use appropriate, relevant, and compelling content to illustrate mastery of the subject, conveying the writer's understanding, and shaping the whole work.
•Students demonstrate detailed attention to and successful execution of a wide range of conventions particular to a specific discipline and/or writing task (s) including organization, content, presentation, formatting, and stylistic choices.
• Students demonstrate skillful use of high quality, credible, relevant sources to develop ideas that are appropriate for the discipline and genre of the writing.
• Students use graceful language that skillfully communicates meaning to readers with clarity and fluency, and is virtually error-free.


Year Three (19-20) Critical Thinking

A team of faculty assessed student work samples from Inquiry ARC in 2015-16 & 2016-17. From this work a preliminary list of possible edits were generated. Additional possible edits will be solicited from final I-ARC faculty in the Fall 2017 semester.

Students explain issues to be considered critically and comprehensively.
Students provide information from sources with enough interpretation to develop a comprehensive analysis.
Students analyze own and others’ assumptions.
Students take a specific position that take into account the complexities of an issue.
Students reach logical conclusions that reflect informed evaluation.


Year Four (20-21) Intercultural or Interdisciplinary

TBD based upon data collected in 2018-19.


Visit Institutional Research News for other information about developments in institutional research, effectiveness and planning at UNC Asheville.