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University of North Florida Learning Outcomes

At UNF, we assess student learning in a number of ways:

  • Because UNF is part of the State University System of Florida, and in compliance with the requirements of our regional accreditor SACS, we carry out annual program assessment in the form of an Academic Learning Compact (ALC) for each major. Specifically, UNF faculty identify and assess learning outcomes for each major in the areas of discipline-specific content and skills, communication skills, and critical thinking skills. Each program identifies and collects its own data. Generally all of the students in a capstone course complete an assignment, test, or performance, and department faculty collect and analyze the results. Detailed assessment plans from sample programs, and learning outcomes and assessment methods for each major are available. As part of the ALC process, individual programs must indicate and document their Continuous Improvement actions and follow-ups for each outcome they assess. Common examples of such improvements include changes in course content, curriculum structure, or course prerequisites; changes in program entry requirements; or changes in assessment methodology.
  •  UNF was one of the first institutions in the VSA to report results of the ETS Proficiency Profile, a test of general education skills in reading, critical thinking, writing, and mathematics. In the first (2010-2011) and second (2012-2013)administrations, UNF's ETS Proficiency Profile learning gains in critical thinking were "well above expected", and in writing “above expected” compared with similar institutions.The variation in results by college have prompted ongoing discussions about disciplinary differences in how we define, teach, and assess critical thinking, a mandated component of all program assessment plans which is also assessed by the ETS Proficiency Profile.
  • UNF has participated in the National Survey of Student Engagement regularly since 2006. Results are archived and used to improve the student experience.
  • UNF is expanding the use of the e-portfolio software iWebfolio. Students use e-portfolios to showcase their competencies to prospective employers; faculty use it as a tool for assessment of student learning and for collection of data for program assessment and improvement.
  • UNF uses the assessment management software TracDat to manage and aggregate assessment data. TracDat enables us to summarize assessment data for each ALC category (content, communication, critical thinking), by academic unit, and/or by whether the desired result was met or not. In addition, the Executive Director of Assessment provides feedback to each academic program on its ALC on an annual basis using a rubric and reviews the results with chairs, deans, and the Provost. The feedback process has promoted a steady improvement in the quality and consistency of plans for assessment of student learning.

Although accreditors and governing bodies require assessment, we do it because it’s a fundamental professional responsibility to continually ensure that students learn what we think we are teaching, and to figure out ways to do better.  

University of North Florida administered the ETS Proficiency Profile in 2013.

University of North Florida conducted a Value-added administration of the ETS Proficiency Profile in 2013. The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on UNF’s process for administering ETS Proficiency Profile, please click on the Assessment Process Tab below. For information on the students included in the administration, please click the Students Tested Tab.

Why did you choose the ETS Proficiency Profile for your institutional assessment?

UNF selected the ETS Proficiency Profile because it could be administered online and unproctored, thus avoiding the need to use class time for administration. Also, the standard (2-hour) version which we used provides students individual score reports that give them personalized feedback on their level of proficiency with respect to reading, critical thinking, writing, and mathematics.

Which University of North Florida students are assessed? When?

In fall 2012, we offered the online unproctored version of the ETS-PP to students enrolled in courses that are typically taken by first year students. In spring 2013, we offered the same test to students enrolled in senior capstone courses. In all cases, instructors of those courses offered grade incentives to students to complete the test, either as required or bonus points. Students had a two week window for test completion, during which they received multiple reminders. 

How are assessment data collected?

Learning Gains in the areas of critical thinking and writing are computed by administering the same test to incoming first year students and graduating seniors; regressing the scores of the first year and graduating students on their entering SAT or ACT scores, based upon regression equations computed by ETS using institutions with a similar SAT/ACT profile as UNF's; and then  computing a relative “Learning Gain” in each area. A number of students who were enrolled in first year or senior courses were not, in fact, first year or senior students, and were not included in the calculation of Learning Gains. Transfer students are also not included in the Learning Gains calculation.

After UNF has identified the students to be included in the learning gains calculation, ETS performs the learning gains calculation for us.

How are data reported within University of North Florida?

Data from the ETS Proficiency Profile were aggregated and reported by major and by college. Results were reviewed by faculty, department chairs, and deans.

How are assessment data at UNF used to guide program improvements?

As a first point for attention, we aspire to have a majority of our graduating seniors be proficient in writing and critical thinking. Conversations are currently underway to determine how UNF can improve its scores.   Specifically, we are discussing how the definitions of writing and critical thinking in the Academic Learning Compacts compare to the ETS definitions, and whether it would be appropriate to bring more consistency to definitions of writing and critical thinking competencies across units.

Of 1833 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 256 (14%) were included in the tested sample at University of North Florida.

Of 1558 senior students eligible to be tested, 273 (18%) were included in the tested sample at University of North Florida.

Probability sampling, where a small randomly selected sample of a larger population can be used to estimate the learning gains in the entire population with statistical confidence, provides the foundation for campus-level student learning outcomes assessment at many institutions. It's important, however, to review the demographics of the tested sample of students to ensure that the proportion of students within a given group in the tested sample is close to the proportion of students in that group in the total population. Differences in proportions don't mean the results aren't valid, but they do mean that institutions need to use caution in interpreting the results for the groups that are under-represented in the tested sample.

Undergraduate Student Demographic Breakdown

  Freshmen Seniors
Eligible Students Tested Students Eligible Students Tested Students
Gender Female 53% 60% 58% 46%
Male 47% 40% 42% 54%
Other or Unknown <1% <1% <1% <1%
US Underrepresented Minority 20% 16% 25% 27%
White / Caucasian 74% 79% 71% 70%
International 1% 1% 1% 2%
Unknown 5% 4% 3% 1%
Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) 33% 33% 34% 32%

Our tested samples were generally representative of the UNF freshman and senior populations, with one exception. The College of Education and Human Services was underrepresented in the population of seniors included in the learning gains calculation because teacher preparation interns took a short version of the test that does not permit us to assign proficiencies to individual students.

The VSA advises institutions to follow assessment publisher guidelines for determining the appropriate number of students to test. In the absence of publisher guidelines, the VSA provides sample size guidelines for institutions based on a 95% confidence interval and 5% margin of error. So long as the tested sample demographics represent the student body, this means we can be 95% certain that the "true" population learning outcomes are with +/- 5% of the reported results. For more information on Sampling, please refer to the Research Methods Knowledge Base

The increase in learning on the performance task is well above what would be expected at an institution testing students of similar academic abilities.

The increase in learning on the analytic writing task is above what would be expected at an institution testing students of similar academic abilities.

Critical Thinking Detail

The chart below shows the distribution of student scores on the ETS Proficiency Profile Critical Thinking test. Students are scored as Not Proficient, Marginal, or Proficient.

Written Communication Detail

The charts below show the distribution of student scores on the three levels of the ETS Proficiency Profile Writing Test. Students are scored as Not Proficient, Marginal, or Proficient on each level. Writing 3 represents more advanced writing skill than Writing 2, which represents more advanced writing skill than Writing 1.