The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board requires that, in order for courses to meet the general education requirements of the state, the institution must directly measure students’ competencies in a variety of defined core objectives, including Critical Thinking and Communication. Courses are divided into the following eight Foundational Component Areas:
· Life and Physical Sciences
· Language, Philosophy, & Culture
· Creative Arts
· American History
· Government/Political Science
· Social and Behavior Science
Each component area is responsible for measuring both Critical Thinking and Communication skills.
The measurement of student competency in Critical Thinking and Communication takes place during the campus required recertification process for courses in the Texas A&M University Core Curriculum, developed by the Core Curriculum Council with the support of the Office of Institutional Assessment and Undergraduate Studies. Courses are recertified every three years on a rotating cycle with courses from all eight Foundational Component Areas being recertified each year. The recertification process requires department heads and faculty instructors to submit an explanation of adherence to the defined Foundational Component Area required core objectives and a description of the methods in addressing and evaluating those objectives. Evidence of compliance includes a representative syllabus and responses to prompts found in the Core Curriculum Recertification and Assessment Form for each Foundational Component Area, which should be completed by the course instructor and supported by the department head. Additionally, submission of samples of student-produced work from one representative section, to include graded assignments, ungraded student work, and/or written responses to questions embedded in tests, demonstrating the required core objectives, are required for this recertification process.
The Office of Institutional Assessment supports the Core Curriculum Council by organizing the assessment processes for each Foundational Component Area. Faculty score student produced work collected through the recertification process using component area-specific, modified versions of the AAC&U Critical Thinking and Written Communication VALUE Rubrics in group scoring sessions. Each artifact is scored by at least two faculty members from departments represented by the Foundational Component Area being scored. The end result is a Foundational Component Area score for both Critical Thinking and Communication, which is reported both internally and externally. Average scores for each criterion of the rubrics are reported to the departments represented in the component area with the intent of curricular and pedagogical modifications to continuously improve student performance of the identified core objectives.