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CUNY Queens College Learning Outcomes

Emphasis on assessment and accountability has increased steadily in the past several years at Queens College and throughout the City University of New York (CUNY).  Assessment is performed in all programs and units.  At the university level, the Performance Management Process (PMP) sets goals for primary indicators of student success such as retention, teaching effort, and pass-rates in composition and gateway-to-the-major courses.  In the College, each unit performs a detailed self-study at five- to seven-year intervals as part of the Academic Program Review process, which weighs heavily in decisions on resource allocation.  The Queens College Strategic Plan is continually updated and measurable goals are set based on this plan.  Goals are evaluated annually and modified as circumstances dictate.  
 
Academic departments define annual assessment tasks, which are monitored by the College’s Outcomes Assessment Committee. Additional assessments of General Education are conducted in the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Office of General Education, and the Writing at Queens program.  The CUNY Pathways Initiative recently established University-wide learning goals for General Education, which will serve as a basis for assessment.  
 
Queens College employs several survey instruments to measure student outcomes and engagement.  These include the CLA (College Learning Assessment) to measure student growth, the NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement), the Noel Levitz student satisfaction survey, and our on-line course evaluation system.  
 
A link is provided below to the College’s 2012 Middle States Periodic Review Report.  The report contains numerous examples of assessment strategies and outcomes.
 




CUNY Queens College administered the CLA in Fall 2012 - Spring 2013.

CUNY Queens College conducted a Value-added administration of the CLA in Fall 2012 - Spring 2013. The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on QC’s process for administering CLA, 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 CLA for your institutional assessment?

In 2011, the CUNY Task Force on System-Wide Assessment of Undergraduate Learning Gains (Assessment Task Force) was convened to develop recommendations for the chancellery on the most appropriate instrument to measure learning across CUNY colleges.

The Task Force submitted its report on the selection of a standardized assessment instrument and recommended the use of the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) developed by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE). CLA offers a value-added, constructed-response approach to the assessment of higher-order skills, such as critical thinking and written communication.

The CLA is a national program for colleges to assess their efforts to develop the critical thinking, analytical reasoning, writing, and problem-solving skills of their students.

Queens College is a unit within the City University of New York.  The CLA was chosen by the CUNY Central administration in collaboration with faculty on various CUNY Campuses.  The CUNY Colleges wanted to get a wide representation of students to participate in this assessment in order to see how well they are able to develop their students' critical thinking, analytical reasoning, writing and problem-solving skills at all academic ability levels. Invitations are sent out to random samples of entering and exiting students.


Which CUNY Queens College students are assessed? When?

  • The CLA is being administered to 100 freshmen in the fall and 100 seniors in the spring in an effort to gauge the effectiveness of colleges to improve the critical thinking, problem solving, and written communications skills of their students.
  • Only first-time full-time freshmen with less than 15 credits and full-time seniors with more than 105 credits (45 credits in associates programs) are eligible to participate. In addition, seniors must have started at the same school as freshmen.
  • Invitations are sent out to random samples of entering and exiting students. Participation in the CLA is by invitation only.

  • How are assessment data collected?

    Selection of students was based on random sampling of all freshmen who enrolled in 14 credits or less during the Fall semester.   A random sample of these students was sent to the testing directors who invited students in based on the random number assignment.   Similarly, for senior students, there was a random sample of seniors who began at Queens College as native freshmen. 


    How are data reported within CUNY Queens College?

    In 2012-13, Queens administed the CLA.  Results will be shared with the Academic Deans, the Chairs, and Vice Presidents as well as the President and interested professors and the Academic Senate.

    The Outcomes Assessment Committee and the Office of General Education will make use of this data to improve our programs.


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

    We are doing a value added assessment looking at first year students and seniors who began as first year students.   Comparisons will be made between the various subscores for our freshmen versus our seniors.

    The Outcomes Assessment Committee and the Office of General Education will make use of this data to improve our programs.


    Of 1449 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 100 (7%) were included in the tested sample at CUNY Queens College.


    Of 5454 senior students eligible to be tested, 100 (2%) were included in the tested sample at CUNY Queens College.


    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 60% 58% 1% 60%
    Male 40% 42% 1% 40%
    Other or Unknown <1% <1% <1% <1%
    Race/
    Ethnicity
    US Underrepresented Minority 21% 21% 1% 30%
    White / Caucasian 23% 23% 1% 41%
    International 5% 5% <1% 5%
    Unknown 24% 24% <1% <1%
    Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) 45% 45% 1% 36%

    The CLA taken by Freshmen in Fall 2012 was representative of the Queens College student body and in Spring 2013 for Seniors who agreed to take the exam.   The tested students were fairly representative of the freshmen students and the seniors on gender and SAT scores. 

     

    Sample CLA Tasks

    Overview

    The CLA consists of three types of prompts within two types of task: the Analytic Writing Task and the Performance Task. Most students take one task or the other. The Analytic Writing Task includes a pair of prompts called Make-an-Argument and Critique-an-Argument.

    Measure Description Time
    Analytic Writing
    Take and justify a position on an issue
    Evaluate an argument for how well reasoned it is
    45 min
    30 min
    Performance Task Complete a task using a set of provided materials 90 min





    ANALYTIC WRITING

    Make-an-Argument

    The Make-an-Argument analytic writing task presents an opinion on an issue and asks students to address this issue from any perspective they wish, so long as they provide relevant reasons and examples to explain and support their views. Students have 45 minutes to complete this essay.

    Example

    Government funding would be better spent on preventing crime than in dealing with criminals after the fact.

    Characteristics of a High Quality Make-an-Argument Response:

    • Has a clearly developed and explained thesis
    • Includes in-depth treatment of the issues
      • Provides multiple reasons to support your thesis
      • Supports points with helpful examples
      • Considers the consequences of your suggestions
      • Acknowledges and discusses multiple perspectives on the issues
      • Presents counterarguments to opposing perspectives
    • Is well-organized and logically developed, with each idea building upon the last
    • Shows strong command of writing mechanics and vocabulary

    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 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.

    Seniors Detail

    The charts below show the proportion of tested seniors who scored at each level of the nine subscales that make up the CLA. The subscale scores range from 1 to 6 with 6 representing a higher or better score. Due to rounding, subscores may not total 100%.


    Performance Task Make-an-Argument Critique-an-Argument
    Analytic Reasoning and Evaluation
    Writing Effectiveness
    Writing Mechanics
    Problem Solving

    Freshmen Detail

    The charts below show the proportion of tested freshmen who scored at each level of the nine subscales that make up the CLA. The subscale scores range from 1 to 6 with 6 representing a higher or better score. Due to rounding, subscores may not total 100%.


    Performance Task Make-an-Argument Critique-an-Argument
    Analytic Reasoning and Evaluation
    Writing Effectiveness
    Writing Mechanics
    Problem Solving