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Shepherd University Learning Outcomes

Campuswide assessment occurs annually using a variety of tools. Nationally certified assessment tools measure factors that influence student satisfaction, learning, and outcomes. Assessments evaluate the effects of changes in the curriculum and compare Shepherd students’ performances with national norms. Data results suggest needed modifications to programs and services to increase student outcomes and successful transition after graduation.

Assessment at Shepherd is comprehensive and program/unit specific. Data results are used to enrich the delivery of instruction and services to students in order to improve the learning environment led by an effective faculty. The University will continue to use assessment results to improve and strengthen academic programs to align with the mission, vision, and core values. Significant changes in academic programs, student services, professional development opportunities for faculty, and financial and enrollment management services have resulted from answering the needs and challenges voiced by Shepherd students.

For assessment initiatives and post-graduation success examples, please see our HLC Self-Study report at http://www.shepherd.edu/accreditation/self-study/volumeI/self-study.pdf.


Shepherd University administered the CLA in 2013 - 2014.

Shepherd University conducted a Value-added administration of the CLA in 2013 - 2014. The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on Shepherd’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?

The CLA provides information for the analysis of student outcomes at Shepherd across all majors. It provides an innovative approach to assessing an institution’s contribution to student learning through major and core courses. The CLA measures for critical thinking and written communication, which are two of the competencies valued across campus, and two of the essential skills a college student should possess upon graduation to be successful in today’s competitive job market.
 


Which Shepherd University students are assessed? When?

Shepherd administers this assessment in a cross-sectional manner. The assessment administration includes a sample of first-year students in the fall and a sample of seniors in the spring.


How are assessment data collected?

Students take the CLA online in proctored settings. Freshmen are tested in the fall.  Seniors are tested in the spring.Testing time is approximately 90 minutes.


How are data reported within Shepherd University?

Following the evaluation of seniors in the spring semester, Shepherd receives a completed report that presents the institution’s “value-added” rating. This report indicates the level of learning achieved by Shepherd students from their freshman through their senior year.

Annual assessment measures for the effects of change in curriculum and compares the results with national trends.  Yearly results are shared with the campus community via the Center for Teaching and Learning website (http://www.shepherd.edu/ctl/standardized_assess_measures.html) and presentations to various campus committees.


How have data led to program changes and improvements at Shepherd?

A major outcome of the CLA results is that critical thinking is now a goal and intended student outcome of the new core curriculum. Students are required to demonstrate their abilities in critical and creative thinking, and effectively communicate in oral and written English. Students must be able to demonstrate a high level of innovation, divergent thinking, and risk taking. Assessments, such as CLA are important because identified areas of need then become academic foci and goals for the University. To address identified areas of need, English composition class size was reduced and needed sections were opened to address student-learning needs. Extra sections of stretch model mathematics classes opened. Instructional materials, strategies, and instructors were changed to improve student outcomes. The new core curriculum implemented in the fall 2011 semester addresses the areas of weakness indicated in the CLA. CLA+, and MAPP reports. These include critical thinking skills infused in all academic programs. Effective oral and written communication are requirements in all programs.


 


Of 546 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 92 (17%) were included in the tested sample at Shepherd University.


Of 141 senior students eligible to be tested, 66 (47%) were included in the tested sample at Shepherd 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 54% 64% 64% 73%
Male 45% 33% 36% 27%
Other or Unknown 1% 3% <1% <1%
Race/
Ethnicity
US Underrepresented Minority 18% 16% 9% 5%
White / Caucasian 81% 73% 81% 92%
International <1% <1% 1% <1%
Unknown 1% 5% 10% 3%
Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) 38% 49% 2% 41%

Our tested sample is representative of the various majors and student ability levels on our campus.

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 at or near 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.

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