State of Assessment Report                            May 9, 2006

Prepared by Jennifer Mihalick, Chair,
Faculty Senate Committee on Assessment of Student Learning

During 2004-2005, eight members from the faculty, one from the academic staff, a student representative of OSA, and an administration liaison, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Curricular Affairs Margaret Manzi, met monthly during the academic year. Jennifer Mihalick maintained a website with committee information and examples of assessment plans. A major goal for the committee has been sharing information with the NCA preparation committee, which is doing a self-study for the spring 2007 reaccreditation visit.  The expectations of Criterion Three, on student learning, are largely met through the variety of assessment activities on the campus.

Status of Program Assessments
Once an assessment plan is approved, departments are asked to report to the FSCASL once every two years.  In 2005, 23 programs submitted status reports which were reviewed by committee members. The rest of the programs should submit updates in summer 2006.  The following programs have not sent status reports in the past three years:  Art, Bachelor of Liberal Studies, Curriculum & Instruction (graduate), English (graduate), Nursing (graduate), and Special Education.

Grids showing the status of each program appear on the website.  Most programs have approved assessment plans, and several departments have revised their plans to improve data collection. Most departments have collected and evaluated assessment data; many have used those data to revise their curriculum; and a few have been able to collect enough data after a revision to judge the impact of the curriculum change on student learning. The committee has scheduled a workshop for Thursday, May 18 from 11-1 in Halsey 202, during which departments can receive assistance with revising their plans.

Grids Showing Status of Assessment Plans:

College of Business Administration
College of Education and Human Services
College of Letters and Science
College of Nursing

General Education

Status of General Education Assessment
General Education Assessment is being done at the course and University levels. 
Each department teaching general education courses has been asked to identify which of the University’s ten broad goals are applicable to their subject, then define more specific learning objectives to be assessed in their courses.  To date 19 COLS departments that offer general education courses (2/3 of the total) have submitted these reports.  

A variety of assessment tools are being used in the general education courses, including analysis of written work and a variety of exams.  The Office of Institutional Research is working with ten departments to collect data through pre- and post-testing in general education courses. 
Several instructors have tested classroom response systems (usually called "clickers") as a method for instantaneous assessment of student learning.  When student responses indicate that they have not learned a concept, the instructor can adapt the lecture to increase student understanding.  Results from a UW System study of Student Response Systems which included five UW Oshkosh courses will be presented on Thursday, May 18 at 1:15 pm in Swart 217.

An overall view of the success of the General Education program was obtained through administration of a standardized national examination.  With financial support from the Provost and Vice Chancellor, the skills of 366 students were tested using the Academic Profile exam from ETS.   This exam was selected because it most closely matched the University's ten goals for student learning in General Education.  The Department of English assisted by requiring that students enrolled in Advanced Composition take the exam during February and March 2006. Students must have earned 60 credits to register for Advanced Composition, so they have largely completed their General Education courses.  In April the students received copies of their exam results, and were encouraged to use the information about their academic strengths when planning for careers and/or graduate school.

The following pages include tables and graphs showing the distributions of scores and comparisons to juniors at other comprehensive universities.  An Excel spreadsheet containing raw data is available from Marleen Flack upon request. The assessment committee encourages all departments to use these data when planning their curricula and assessment programs.  The General Education Subcommittee of the Academic Policies Committee (APGES) is using the exam results in their ongoing study of the General Education program.

In most categories the average UW Oshkosh student is near the 50th percentile of students from a comparison group of comprehensive universities.

education goal
UW Oshkosh
Percentile (juniors at
Critical thinking 2
118.42 59

112.13 45
Writing 1
115.16 48
Math 4, 9 115.95 56
Humanities 3, 6, 8, 10 115.13 54
Social sciences 6, 7, 8 113.69
Natural sciences
4, 5, 8, 9 116.16 52

The General Education program at UW Oshkosh is designed to assist students in developing:
1. Effective written and oral communication
2. Skills related to critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity
3. Heightened intellectual, cultural, and humane understanding and sensitivity
4. The ability to manipulate symbol systems and use quantitative methods
5. Skills associated with the scientific method including rational inquiry, data collection,
       analysis, theory formulation and hypothesis testing

6. An understanding of world history, civilizations, and political processes
7. An understanding of economics and social sciences
8. An understanding of the interdependence of humankind and the natural world
9. An understanding of the principles of mathematics and the sciences
10. An understanding of literature, the arts, and systems of human thought

The exam also ranks the students by proficiency in several areas.  Although UW Oshkosh students are more proficient than many students, there is clearly room for improvement, especially in the area of Critical Thinking.  Because the students took the exam as they were beginning Advanced Composition, the test probably did not measure their final proficiency in Writing. 

Juniors at Master's (Comprehensive) Colleges and Universities I and II
Summary of Proficiency Classifications

Percent of Students Classified as
Skill Dimension Proficient Marginal Not Proficient
Critical Thinking
4%  [ 6% UWO] 14% [14% UWO] 82% [79% UWO]
Reading, Level 2 33   [34] 22    [17] 45    [49]
Reading, Level 1 67   [66] 20    [16] 13    [19]

Writing, Level 3 8       [6] 29    [34]
63    [61]
Writing, Level 2 19   [22] 38    [35]
43    [44]
Writing, Level 1 70   [74] 22    [20] 8        [6]

Mathematics, Level 3 7     [12]
15    [25] 78    [63]
Mathematics, Level 2 26   [34]
30    [31
44    [35]
Mathematics, Level 1 56   [73]
27    [22]
16      [5]
        Total Number of Students:  17,652

At Reading Level 1 a student can:
Recognize factual material explicitly presented in a reading passage
Understand the meaning of particular words or phrases in the context of a passage

At Reading Level 2 a student can:
Synthesize material from different sections of a passage
Recognize valid inferences
Identify accurate summaries
Understand in interpret figurative language
Discern the main idea, purpose or focus of a passage

At Reading Level 3 (Critical Thinking) a student can:
Evaluate competing causal explanations
Evaluate hypotheses for consistency with known facts
Determine relevance of information for evaluating an argument or conclusion
Recognize salient features or themes in art
Determine whether artistic interpretation is supported by the evidence
Evaluate appropriateness of procedures for investigating a question of causation
Evaluate data for consistency with known facts, hypotheses or methods
Recognize flaws and inconsistencies in an argument

At Writing Level 1 a student can:
Recognize agreement among nouns, verbs, pronouns, etc.
Recognize appropriate transitions words
Recognize incorrect word choice
Order sentences in a paragraph
Order elements in an outline

At Writing Level 2 a student can:
Incorporate new material into passage
Recognize agreement - complex
Combine clauses into single, more complex combinations
Recast existing sentences  into new syntactic combinations

At Writing Level 3 a student can:
Discriminate between appropriate and inappropriate use of parallelism
Discriminate between appropriate and inappropriate use of idiomatic language
Discriminate between correct and incorrect constructions
Recognize redundancy
Recognize the most effective sentence revision

At Math Level 1 a student can:
Solve word problems using arithmetic (not involving conversion or units or proportions)
Solve problems involving the informal properties of numbers and operations
Solve problems involving square roots and squares
Solve a simple equation or  substituting numbers into algebraic expressions
Find information from a graph

At Math Level 2 a student can:
Solve complex arithmetic problems
Simplify algebraic expressions
Perform basic translations
Draw conclusions from algebraic equations or inequalities
Interpret a trend represented in a graph
Solve problems using sets with numeric answer choices.

At Math Level 3 a student can:
Solve word problems unlikely to be solved by arithmetic
Solve problems with difficult arithmetic concepts
Exponents, roots other than squares
Percent increase or decrease
Generalize about numbers
Solve problems using properties of integers, rational numbers, etc.
Interpret complex graphs
Solve problems requiring insight or logical reasoning.

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last updated June 5, 2006