A Brief Guide to General Education Assessment

Nota bene: The terms goals, learning outcomes, and outcomes are all used interchangeably. They represent what you expect students to know and be able to do once they complete the program and/or course.

Assessment of general education courses is very similar to program assessment. The major difference is that the learning objectives or outcomes for general education courses have been pre-determined by Columbian College. Thus, general education assessment reports should be based on how well students are meeting the general education objectives. You may assess other course objectives in addition; however, they do not need to be included in the G-PAC assessment report.

Course assessment findings take many forms. Some faculty view assessment as a research project, using descriptive statistics to analyze data, report conclusions, and make recommendations. Still others produce a narrative describing their assessment process, findings, and what they plan to do. The university uses TaskStream, an assessment management tool, as a repository to collect assessment information. The assessment of general education courses has its own workspace in TaskStream, which is organized by course. Multiple assessments for each course can be included in the workspace.

For your convenience, we have designed assessment templates that align closely to the fields in TaskStream. This should ease the work of your unit’s TaskStream user when entering the information into the system. Use the templates for an initial summary of the assessment report. If you want to provide more detail, it can be added as a narrative after the template table.

Similar to program assessment, the assessment of general education should include the following information:

  • The learning outcome(s)/objective(s) you are assessing. All of the general education objectives should be assessed over a five-year period;
  • The evidence used to assess student learning, including a copy of the rubric or method for evaluating the evidence;
  • Summary of the findings and what they tell you about student learning; and
  • Description of how the assessment will be used to improve student learning in the course.

As part of the annual assessment review, we will endeavor to provide meaningful feedback on your general education submission using the General Education Feedback Rubric. The rubric provides a clear indication of the type and level of information required by GW.

A description of the learning outcomes for Columbian College’s general education (G-PAC) courses can be found here. Rubrics for assessing student work, adapted from AACU’s VALUE Rubrics, have been created for the learning outcomes associated with Columbian College’s general education (G-PAC) courses. Feel free to adapt or modify them for your own use:

You may wish to use one of the G-PAC assesment templates to organize your assessment findings for final input into TaskStream. As with the program assessment, fill out the table with a summary of the various items; then add any additional narrative, figures, graphs, and rubrics as appendices after the table. Rubrics or exam blueprints, etc. should be supplied as appendices to the report. 

Please note: similar to program assessment, all general education learning outcomes and objectives must be assessed once every five years. Multiple sections of a general education course may be assessed individually or collectively as one unit.

For questions about general education assessment, contact Evie Downie, at [email protected] or Cheryl Beil, at [email protected].

For TaskStream information or training, contact Alex Feldman, at [email protected].