SACS Principles of Accreditation
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Section IV: COC Programs

3.5.1 The institution identifies competencies within the general education core and provides evidence that graduates have attained those college-level competencies.



JUDGMENT OF COMPLIANCE

Compliance.

NARRATIVE/JUSTIFICATION FOR JUDGMENT OF COMPLIANCE

The University identifies competencies within the general education core and provides evidence that graduates have attained those college-level competencies.

The 42-semester credit hour General Education Core (GEC) Curriculum Mission Statement is to “introduce students to academic disciplines which form the foundation of human thought…(the) Core is conceived to open new areas of learning for our students and to foster skills necessary for success in higher education. As they move through this course of study, students are encouraged…to develop the capacity to articulate and to support a thesis, to think critically, to synthesize their observations and to perceive analogies and relationships between diverse ideas and intellectual pursuits.” (Catalog 2004-2005, Core Curriculum Mission Statement) The GEC encompasses three underlying competencies that address the intent of the Mission Statement: writing, reading, and mathematics.

Writing competency is assessed by means of the University Writing Assessment (UWA) (Catalog 2004-2005, Programs for Academic Support and Enrichment, University Writing Assessment ), a writing exercise that undergraduate students must pass prior to graduation. The UWA is a locally-generated instrument that examines skill in composing an essay on a current events or literary topic. Two rubrics assess achievement. (UWA Rubrics) Faculty and Writing Center administrators that serve as readers undergo training on the application of the rubrics before reading the samples. A holistic rubric is used to evaluate logic, organization, development, and mechanics. Readers employ this rubric to assess the overall quality of the essay and to assign it a level of adequacy. To establish reliability, each writing sample receives at least two readings. When scores differ, one of the chief readers evaluates the essay for a final determination. Results are posted on the student's unofficial transcript through LASSO, the Laredo Automated Student Services On-line. Students who are not successful are advised by Programs for Academic Support and Enrichment staff and directed to the Writing Center or asked to take additional English classes to improve their writing skills. Assessment Reports for the GEC identify a benchmark of 70% first time pass rate on the UWA for students who have taken all nine semester credit hours of English language and literature at the University. Results of the first three semesters of assessment of this outcome indicate first time pass rates as follows:

Spring 2003
58.11%
Fall 2003
57.14%
Spring 2004
56%

The second rubric is analytical and serves to validate the UWA and to provide more specific information about particular areas of weakness in student writing. The information from the rubric is compared to establish internal validity of the UWA and to provide more detailed information about student deficiencies in writing. A total of 300 sample essays were randomly selected from Spring 2003, Fall 2003, and Spring 2004. These essays were scored according to the analytical rubric which identifies five categories of writing skills. Four experienced readers participated each semester, each reading approximately 25 essays each term. The results indicate that students' greatest instructional need is in logic, coherence, and development followed by mechanics and usage. The categories with the lowest number of points represent the greatest area of weakness.

Evaluation of UWA results led to the selection of writing as the focus of the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan. (QEP Executive Summary) The effect of a university-wide emphasis on writing will be considered in subsequent interpretation of the UWA as an outcome measure of the GEC.

Reading, the second dimension of assessment, is evaluated by a sampling technique in which students enrolled in Political Science 2306, American State Government, take the reading module of the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP). Intended to document student readiness for advanced study, the CAAP module is a national, standardized examination that assesses reading levels after students have taken at least a year of courses within the core curriculum. CAAP has longitudinal validity so it can be used to assess different groups of students from semester to semester. Assessment Reports for the reading dimension of the Core Curriculum indicate as a desired outcome that the average score of University students will meet or exceed the national average. Test results from the first three semesters of administration of the CAAP Reading Module are as follows:

Semester
TAMIU Average
National Average
Evidence
Spring 2003
58.5 %
62.6 %
Assessment Report
Fall 2003
58 %
62.9 %
Assessment Report
Spring 2004
58 %
62.6%
Assessment Report

Reading competence presents a unique challenge on a campus with a high minority/bilingual population. To address the lower-than-desired test results, a reading assessment and improvement program PLATO was added to the English 1301 English Composition I course. Because CAAP is normed with PLATO reading software, students’ scores in their first-year courses can be compared with their scores subsequent to their second-year political science classes.

Competence in basic mathematics, the third dimension evaluated for the GEC, is measured by a locally-developed Common Final Examination in College Algebra administered upon completion of the course. The benchmark set for this assessment is that 75% of all students taking this examination will achieve a score of 60 or better. Results for the first three semesters of implementation are reported in the Assessment Reports as follows:

Spring 2003
34%
Fall 2003
67%
Spring 2004
40%

Faculty comments on the Assessment Report for Fall 2003 indicate that the improved results may have been attributed to early intervention and expanded tutoring, along with more emphasis on traditional College Algebra sections.

Evaluation of the GEC is complicated by the fact that students can transfer the core curriculum in whole or in part from one institution to another in the state of Texas. (Catalog 2004-2005, Academic Regulations - Undergraduate, Transfer of the Core Curriculum) A planned refinement of GEC evaluation is to compare results of students who completed their core coursework at the University with those of transfer students.





SUPPORT DOCUMENTATION


SOURCE

LOCATION/Special Instructions

Catalog 2004-2005, Core Curriculum Mission Statement

http://www.tamiu.edu/catalog/current/acadreg-und.shtml#ccms

Catalog 2004-2005, Programs for Academic Support and Enrichment, University Writing Assessment

http://www.tamiu.edu/catalog/current/pase.shtml#lppuwa

UWA Rubrics http://www.tamiu.edu/archives/RubricUWA.pdf
Assessment Report, Writing Spring 2003 http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ie/data/GenEd-Spring2003.htm#univwrite
Assessment Report, Writing Fall 2003 http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ie/data/GenEd-Fall2003.htm#univwrite
Assessment Report, Writing Spring 2004 http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ie/data/GenEd-Spring2004.htm#univwrite
Quality Enhancement Plan Executive Summary http://www.tamiu.edu/sacs/qep.html
Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency http://www.act.org/caap/tests/reading.html
Assessment Report, Reading Spring 2003 http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ie/data/GenEd-Spring2003.htm#collprogram
Assessment Report, Reading Fall 2003 http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ie/data/GenEd-Fall2003.htm#collprogram
Assessment Report, Reading Spring 2004 http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ie/data/GenEd-Spring2004.htm#collprogram
PLATO http://www.plato.com/colleges/assessment/task_readiness.asp
Common Final Examination in College Algebra SACS Documentation Room
(Killam Library Room 334-C)
Assessment Report, Math Spring 2003 http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ie/data/GenEd-Spring2003.htm#algebra
Assessment Report, Math Fall 2003 http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ie/data/GenEd-Fall2003.htm#algebra
Assessment Report, Math Spring 2004 http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ie/data/GenEd-Spring2004.htm#algebra
Catalog 2004-2005, Academic Regulations - Undergraduate, Transfer of the Core Curriculum http://www.tamiu.edu/catalog/current/acadreg-und.shtml#tcc


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