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Washburn University Learning Outcomes

The assessment of student learning is an integral part of the teaching and learning process and Washburn University strives to create a culture of assessment surrounding all of the curricular and co-curricular activities in which students participate.

Valid and reliable assessment is important for three reasons: (1) to improve student learning; (2) to provide accountability to stakeholders, such as students, parents, legislators, accrediting agencies, and the public; and (3) to assist in the process of accreditation, both of the university and of individual programs.

To foster this culture of assessment, Washburn University has created a universitywide Assessment Committee. The mission of the Committee is to support the University's commitment to excellence in teaching, scholarly work, and quality academic and professional programs through the collection, analysis, and dissemination of evidence of student learning.

To help the committee satisfy its mission, the following are shared expectations:

(1) Every program has a mission statement and the program  ensures the mission statement is shared with all constituents.The mission statement is reviewed periodically  to ensure it is appropriate and compatible with the University's mission.

(2) Every program has student learning outcomes. Each outcome is supported by at least one direct measure of assessment. Evidence is consistently collected and accessible to appropriate constituents. Evidence is regularly analyzed based on an established schedule of review set by the program. The program has an appropriate mechanism to institute changes which are suggested by the evidence.   Students share the responsibility for the evaluation of student learning by completing assessment activities which provide the data required for reliable analysis of the curricular and co-curricular activities which are undertaken.

As a complement to the program learning outcomes, Washburn University designed a general education program that provides students with a grounding in liberal arts and sciences and shapes an informed, capable citizenry through a broad education in a range of disciplines. These courses ensure that students are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to engage with a rapidly-changing world over their lifetime. Students complete core courses in composition and mathematics and a broad range of course work in Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences and Mathematics designed specifically to meet the University Student Learning Outcomes: Communication, Critical and Creative Thinking, Global Citizenship, Ethics, and Diversity, Information Literacy and Technology, and Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning and Literacy. 




Learning Assessment Examples

Washburn University administered the ETS Proficiency Profile in 2014.

Washburn University conducted a Value-added administration of the ETS Proficiency Profile in 2014. The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on Washburn ’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?

ETS has a long history of effectively helping institutions measure student performance. The ETS® Proficiency Profile assesses four core skills (critical thinking, reading, writing, and mathematics).  

ETS® Proficiency Profile ETS® Proficiency Profile  The results are used to inform curricular decisions and ensure the student learning outcomes are being met. Washburn also reports the results each year to the Kansas Board of Regents as one of its performance measures. 

Which Washburn University students are assessed? When?

Beginning in 2009-10, Washburn began testing first-time freshmen and seniors using the ETS® Proficiency Profile. Every fall and spring term, first-time freshmen enrolled in a freshmen composition course and seniors enrolled in a capstone course are invited to participate.  After sping 2014, Washburn will use ETS Proficiency Profile every three years while continuing to assess student learing using a variety of metrics. TheThTheEEvery E

How are assessment data collected?

We use a variety of tools, including the ETS Proficiency Profile, AAC&U Value Rubrics, and additional means of standardized testing.

How are data reported within Washburn University?

Data are provided to the Vice President of Academic Affairs for annual review, and results are shared with faculty.

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

The Assessment Committee uses assessment data to inform what annual changes need to be made to programs to focus on improving learning outcomes.

Of 324 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 227 (70%) were included in the tested sample at Washburn University.

Of 401 senior students eligible to be tested, 302 (75%) were included in the tested sample at Washburn University.

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 45% 47% 68% 74%
Male 55% 55% 32% 26%
Other or Unknown <1% <1% <1% <1%
US Underrepresented Minority 25% 25% 14% 12%
White / Caucasian 35% 36% 69% 73%
International 1% 1% 2% 2%
Unknown 38% 39% 15% 14%
Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) 46% 46% 43% 43%

The sample tested included a slightly lower proportion of male students and slightly higher proportion of female sudents than exist in the student body, thus results will be examined by gender to be sure there are not different result patterns for men and women. The testing sample also consisted of a slightly higher proportion of White/Caucasion students than exist at the institution, and differential result patterns between this group and students belonging to underrepresented minorities will be examined.

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 below what would be expected at an institution testing students of similar academic abilities.

The increase in learning on the analytic writing task is at or near 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.