ThinkAchieve: Connecting the Classroom and the Community History, Goals and Assessment
ThinkAchieve was created out of UTC’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for SACS reaccreditation from 2010-2015 which focused on critical thinking and experiential learning. In order to promote, encourage and recognize students who participate in the experiential learning pathways created through this university wide endeavor, a broad platform of designated learning experiences are now available for students. These experiences have been created by faculty, staff and community members and are both academic credit bearing and non-academic credit bearing. The four main categories of these experiences are described in more detail at the Beyond the Classroom student site.
ThinkAchieve Student Learning Outcomes
UTC students will need to attain the following specific learning outcomes:
Identify, evaluate, and interpret information, by raising pertinent questions and identifying uncertainties,
Solve problems by determining limitations, making connections, and prioritizing the potential solutions,
Create innovative solutions to problems through creative thinking,
Communicate ideas and information effectively, and
Seek ongoing improvement to integrate knowledge and skill through reflection on their thinking and learning processes.
Achievement of the ThinkAchieve goal and objectives is assessed primarily through the annual administration of the Critical Thinking Assessment test (CAT) developed by Tennessee Tech University (TTU). TTU's website defines the CAT as "a unique tool designed to assess and promote the improvement of critical thinking and real-world problem solving skills" (TTU, n.d.). The role of the CAT is to assist faculty in assessing students' critical thinking skills early in their career at UTC. Graduating seniors also take the CAT, and this provides data to evaluate the overall institutional progress. For more information about the CAT, click here.
In addition to the CAT, there are a number of assessments used to evaluate to what degree UTC students are achieving the student learning outcomes, including the following:
ETS Proficiency Profile Exam (ETS PPE [http://www.ets.org/proficiencyprofile/])
NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement [http://nsse.iub.edu/]
FSSE (Faculty Survey of Student Engagement [http://fsse.iub.edu/]
We are now in Year Two of the ThinkAchieve program. Baseline data collected in Year One reveal some interesting findings about our students’ critical thinking at UTC. See below for links to the full Year One report as well as a summary of major findings, data notes, and data tables.
ThinkAchieve Year One Assessment Results
Tennessee Tech University. (n.d.). Critical thinking assessment test. Retrieved from http://www.tntech.edu/cat/home/