General Education Assessment


In April of 2003, a team representing the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools recommended that Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC, the College) be granted a ten year renewal of its accreditation. The advances that faculty and staff have made in planning and implementing the College’s comprehensive assessment effort were critical in securing the team’s positive recommendation. In its Report of a Comprehensive Evaluation Visit, team chair Dr. William Tammone noted that “CNCC has made remarkable progress in assessment since it began the self-study process two years ago”.

Meeting monthly throughout the 2002-2003 academic year, the Assessment Committee worked diligently to maintain and refine its assessment plan and the processes put in place the previous year. A new assessment calendar clarified dates and reporting deadlines, and helped make the goals of targeting classes, gathering data, reporting results, and using results to evaluate teaching strategies more attainable.

Faculty use of academic assessment as a tool for gauging student learning and teaching effectiveness is progressing. Many have modified their course syllabi to reflect the specific assessment tools they are using, and most include the College’s general education goals, as well.

General Education

The team made the following recommendations regarding general education.

  1. Publish CNCC general education learning objectives in the general catalog and other publications
  2. Limit the number of general education learning objectives “so that they really can be attained by all CNCC graduates.”
  3. “The team also recommends that, for each of its degree programs, the College develop a table or grid that clearly indicates exactly which General Education Program Goals can be acquired in which courses.”

Following the recommendation of the team, the two general education goals currently being emphasized are:

  1. To equip students with skills necessary for creative problem solving, critical thinking, and analysis of values.
  2. To equip students with the communication skills (written, oral, and symbolic) necessary for effective listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Philosophy and Goals of General Education

Once the college decided to focus on two main general education goals, the assessment committee broke those down, with input from faculty, into measurable objectives that can be assessed within individual programs. The faculty were then required to list the classes taught, as well as identifying which objectives were targeted within that specific class. A general education matrix was created to assist in this task. The following goals and their underlying objectives are the framework for general education assessment at CNCC.

Goal 1: To equip students with skills necessary for creative problem solving, critical thinking, and analysis of values.

a Apply the scientific method in designing and carrying out an experiment.
b Demonstrate familiarity with fundamental physical and biological science principles.
c Contrast the government of the United States with those of other nations.
d Explain the contributions of diverse groups to the advancement of civilization.
e Appraise current social issues from an historical and/or scientific perspective.
f Evaluate the role of the arts in transmitting ideas.
g Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of values and beliefs on societal dynamics by learning to approach ethical dilemmas analytically.
h Understand concepts of social and civic responsibility.
i Apply critical thinking to solve problems.
j Interpret data accurately from tables, graphs, and charts.
k Solve word problems both in the context of applied situations and in extending knowledge of mathematical theory.
l Work with functions that are constructed as models of real-world problems, including such things as the use of logarithmic and exponential functions as models for population growth, compound interest, etc.
m Perform basic analytic functions, such as categorizing information, distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant data, and predicting outcomes of situations from analysis of information.
n Use computers for analysis, research.
o Use conceptual information specific to the subject area to propose solutions to theoretical and actual problems to formulate long and short term goals to prioritize tasks in completion of a project and to create strategies for achieving goals.
p Analyze, summarize, or evaluate textual material.

Goal 2: To equip students with the communication skills (both written and symbolic) necessary for effective listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

a Demonstrate the ability to conceive ideas about an assigned topic\; organize, select, and relate ideas and outline and develop them in coherent paragraphs through a well-constructed, documented composition or business plan.
b Develop research skills, including the ability to gather information from primary and secondary sources\; write a report using this research\; quote, paraphrase, and summarize accurately\; and cite sources properly.
c Develop oral communication skills, including the ability to select topics appropriate to an audience\; determine the appropriate general and specific purpose\; organize, arrange, rehearse, and deliver a presentation.
d Evaluate, lead, and participate effectively in group discussions.
e Apply active listening skills in interpersonal and group settings.
f Communicate scientific ideas through oral or written assignments, critiques of the content of scientific articles regarding experimental design, assumptions, analysis of data, results, etc.
g Interpret and apply mathematics using formulas and graphical representation.
h Use computers for analysis, research, and communication.

Departmental Assessment Information

Click on the following departments to see the list of classes that are taught within each discipline, as well as the targeted general education goals embedded within the framework of each class.

[no department worksheets currently available]


The Student Opinion Survey (2004-2005)

During the week of November 15 – 19, faculty administered the 2004 – 2005 Student Opinion Survey to 612 CNCC students. The breakdown by delivery site was as follows: Craig=261, Rangely=251, South Routt=48, Meeker=29, and Hayden=24. The results of the survey will be used by College administration, faculty, and staff to better meet the needs of current and potential students. These results will also allow the Marketing Team and the Retention Committee to recommend enhanced strategies for attracting students to CNCC and retaining them once they have enrolled.

Below are the academic results fo the SOS survey for 2004-2005.

Very Satisfied and Satisfied Very Dissatisfied and Dissatisfied
41 Testing and grading system 78.8% 4.0%
42 Course content in your major area 75.7% 6.3%
43 Quality of instruction in you major area of study 76.9% 5.6%
44 Out-of-class availability of your instructor 80.2% 2.1%
45 Attitude of the teaching staff toward students 81.7% 3.8%
46 Variety of courses offered at CNCC 64.9% 11.0%
47 Class size 86.3% 1.2%
48 Flexibility to design your own program of study 69.1% 4.9%
49 Availability of an advisor 75.6% 3.4%
50 Value of information provided by advisor 71.3% 4.2%
51 >Academic advising/course planning 74.4% 4.8%
52 Vocational guidance/career planning 69.9% 2.8%
53 Course Scheduling 76.0% 4.8%
54 Challenged by your program of study 79.3% 1.5%
55 College sponsored tutorial services 62.5% 3.4%
56 Credit by examination (CLEP, etc.) 55.0% 1.8%
57 Adult Learning Assistance Program/Learning Assistance Center 58.6% 3.4%

The Student Opinion Survey (2002-2003)

In the 2001-2002 assessment report, it was noted that the ACT Student Opinion Survey (SOS) given in the spring of 2002 “did not provide specific data concerning CNCC’s academic programs and student outcomes.” As a result, CNCC developed a local SOS, composed of many of the same types of questions but focusing on the many unique services CNCC has to offer. A total of 283 students completed this survey in April of 2003. Sixteen of the items included in the survey constitute the section entitled “College Environment: Satisfaction Level with the Academic Aspects of this College.” These items, and the results obtained in the survey, are listed below.

Satisfaction Scale: 5=very satisfied, 4-satisfied, 3=neutral, 2=dissatisfied, 1=very dissatisfied

Academic MN
43 Testing and grading system 4.019
44 Course content in your major area 3.970
45 Quality of instruction in you major area of study 4.082
46 Out-of-class availability of your instructor 4.088
47 Attitude of the teaching staff toward students 4.193
48 Variety of courses offered at CNCC 3.647
49 Class size 4.387
50 Flexibility to design your own program of study 4.047
51 Availability of an advisor 4.056
52 Value of information provided by advisor 3.965
53 Academic advising/course planning 3.909
54 Vocational guidance/career planning 3.782
55 Course Scheduling 3.896
56 Challenged by your program of study 4.072
57 College sponsored tutorial services 3.876
58 Credit by examination (CLEP, etc.) 3.747

Student satisfaction with the academic services provided at CNCC ranged from above ‘neutral’ to ‘very satisfied’. This would indicate that students are generally satisfied with the education they are receiving at CNCC.

Since this is the first year this survey was administered at CNCC, there are no comparisons to be made at this time. As we continue to use this survey to gather data, we will gain a longitudinal set of statistics that can be used to make comparisons on a yearly basis.

Useful Assessment Links

  • Some Simple CAT (Classroom Assessment Techniques) – This link takes you to a light-hearted but thought-provoking overview of CATs. Examples include muddiest point, minute papers, and more.
  • Rubrics Lesson – This link takes you to a page that gives guidelines on how to create and utilize a useful Rubric as an assessment tool. It also has some great examples of rubrics for different subject areas. An excellent resource for those interested in the basics of rubric assessment.
  • 9 Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning – This link takes you to the principles of good assessment as outlined by the American Association for Higher Education.
  • Reporting Assessment Results – This link takes you to the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory where there is a great page on reporting assessment results. How do you do it meaningfully?
  • Assessment Resources – This link takes you to the Assessment Resource Page at the University of Wisconsin Colleges. From here there are links to a variety of useful assessment information.