Course-Based Assessment: Guidelines and Evaluation Rubrics
A central component of the program for assessing general education at UTC is the evaluation of student work collected into an “institutional portfolio.” Accordingly, a small number of course sections from each category in the general education curriculum will be selected each year to contribute student work to the portfolio. Upon collection, the work will be scored by faculty scoring teams according to the rubrics established for the relevant general education category.
In preparation for the launch of the portfolio assessment activities in 2008-09, the General Education Committee is pleased to share with the campus community working drafts of the evaluation rubrics for each of the six category areas. It is the Committee’s hope that the rubrics will be refined and improved in the coming months as a result of both feedback from the campus community and practical experience using the rubrics during this first round of portfolio assessment.
With this goal in mind, the Committee would also like to offer the following remarks on the selection of artifacts for the portfolio and on the rubrics themselves.
Selection of Student Work as Assessment Artifacts
Instructors need to keep three primary considerations in mind as they determine what student work to submit for assessment:
- The work must allow students to demonstrate the content knowledge and critical skills listed as “core competencies.”
- The work would require synthesis or evaluation of specific subject matter, while also providing students opportunities to compare and contrast, analyze relationships, evaluate the strength and weaknesses of arguments, and/or describe the implications of research findings or data.
- The work would require students to formulate their ideas in their own words using statements in English prose and/or symbolic languages (e.g., equations).
Overall, papers (including essays, research projects, laboratory reports), portfolios of written work, and essay exams tend to offer the greatest promise as assessment items. Short answer test questions can also work, so long as they sufficiently address each of the three considerations listed above.
Instructors are free to select either a single assignment, a combination of assignments (ideally, no more than two), or parts of one or more assignments (again, ideally no more than two) for evaluation. In making this choice, instructors should keep in mind that, where only three core competencies are listed in the category rubric, the student work should be able address all three. Where there are more than three core competencies in the category rubric, the work submitted should be able to address, at least, either 3 of the 4 or 4 of the 5 core competencies.
Remarks on the Rubrics
In developing the evaluation rubrics, the General Education Committee strove to adopt as consistent an approach as possible to each of the six general education categories. For each core competency area, the submissions will be scored as “exemplary”, “satisfactory”, or “unacceptable.” The definition of each of these performance levels is partly structured around Bloom’s Taxonomy, a widely-used approach to categorizing learning objectives. But, as necessary, it also includes explanatory comments and material drawn from the competency statements and/or the category objectives approved by the faculty in 1998 (as listed in the “Green Book”).
With respect to the term “core competency” itself, a few words are also in order. In short, the Committee decided against making the competency statements themselves the criteria for evaluation. In part, this choice reflected the existence of internal redundancies, that is, some of the statements just call for the students to demonstrate the same knowledge or skill, but at different levels. But it also reflected the fact that some statements combined objectives in a way that seemed to stand in the way of effective evaluation. Instead, the Committee chose to identify the core knowledge and skills presented in the competency statements and develop the evaluation rubrics around these core areas.
Finally, a note of explanation concerning the numbers between parentheses following each of the core competencies. These numbers indicate which of the overall general education program competencies are being addressed by a particular competency area. A list of these competencies is available at: http://www.utc.edu/Administration/GeneralEducation/Assessment/GECompetencies.pdf
To borrow an image from the world of computer science, the evaluation rubrics that appear below are “betaware.” They are, the General Education Committee believes, ready for testing, but may well have weaknesses that will prevent them from fulfilling their intended purposes both short and long term. With that in mind, the Committee asks the UTC community to help “test” these documents by reviewing them and thinking about how they would work to evaluate actual General Education courses.
Please address any and all feedback on the rubrics (or the larger institutional portfolio project) to Tony Steinhoff, Chair of the General Education Committee for 2008-09: 425-4581 (phone); or Anthony-Steinhoff@utc.edu (email).