Through the development of campus-wide Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs), the University has set its expectations for what all of its undergraduate students should know and be able to do upon graduation. These outcomes are characteristics of success and employers find that workers with these abilities do well on the job. The SLOs also reflect capabilities that will help make our students good leaders.
The University endorsed the SLOs in 2007 and they are now being implemented in undergraduate courses and major programs across campus. The SLOs state that, at the time of receiving a bachelor degree, students
- Can identify, define, and solve problems
- Can locate and critically evaluate information
- Have mastered a body of knowledge and a mode of inquiry
- Understand diverse philosophies and cultures within and across societies
- Can communicate effectively
- Understand the role of creativity, innovation, discovery, and expression across disciplines
- Have acquired skills for effective citizenship and lifelong learning
In order to determine how and at what level our students are developing in these skills, we administered an educational outcome assessment to measure improvement in our students' abilities in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and written communication. Two modules from the ACT Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP) were selected: (1) critical thinking and (2) a writing essay. During the summer of 2010, a group of entering freshmen took the CAAP; and in the spring of 2011 a group of graduating seniors who started here as freshmen took the same assessment.
The study was conducted in conjunction with the University's Test Center and the Office of Institutional Research (OIR). During the summer administration, email invitations were sent to entering freshmen prior to their arrival on campus for summer orientation. A web-based RSVP system was developed by OIR to register students and send reminder emails of confirmed participants. Administration of the modules was conducted by the Test Center. Students were tested at the end of their second day of orientation throughout June and July, once 200 students were tested the summer testing stopped. Entering freshmen were given $50 gift cards to the Bookstore upon completion of both modules.
The spring administration utilized the same RSVP system, but the invitation was sent to all expected 2011 spring graduates who had started at the U of M as new entering freshmen. The RSVP system capped out at 300. The modules were administered in late March and early April at various sites around campus, after completing the two modules students were given a $50 Target gift card. A grand total of 264 seniors completed the CAAP.
- CAAP Home Page
- The College Portrait communicates information on the undergraduate student experience through a common web reporting template. It provides information on the characteristics of institutions and students including cost of attendance, graduation rates, degree offerings, student engagement with the learning process, and core educational outcomes. Results are available here: College Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP)