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Liberal Arts Core Assessment
pdf Liberal Arts Core Assessment Schedule

Introduction: A Brief History of Liberal Arts Core Assessment at USF
 In 2002, The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) renewed USF’s ten-year accreditation status but did so with several recommendations and/or caveats related to assessment. One recommendation identified the liberal arts core(LAC), which was then referred to as the General Education, as an area in dire need of assessment. Dr. Beth Jernberg, then Dean of Faculty Development and Assessment, asked Drs. Kevin Cole, Gerry Schlenker, and Keith Jones to conduct a summer task force charged with, among other things, initiating an assessment program for the liberal arts core. At the 2003 faculty retreat, they reported on the objectives and goals of their summer task force. They recommended that faculty approve a pilot program for assessing the general education, which it did, and that faculty approve of a standing general education committee committed to all matters related to the LAC. In the spring of 2004, faculty approved the Committee on Liberal Arts Education (CLAE).  CLAE’s first task was to develop an efficacious assessment program that would not place onerous burdens on those who teach in the LAC. It knew from the outset, however, that developing such a program would be difficult, if not impossible, with the three-tiered set of Core objectives, which included over 54 learning outcomes among the disciplines. Even so, it proposed a schedule of assessment for each area along with a recommendation of which objective it should assess. The results of this first round of assessment are included below.Before commenting on the state of assessment, the committee would like to recall changes to the LAC that faculty approved as a result of assessment and/or CLAE’s work.
  1. Established a standing committee devoted to the LAC.
  2. Established an assessment program.
  3. Eliminated the old affective outcomes, which were noble in scope and content but in large part unassessable. Moreover, no area volunteered to assess any one outcome.
  4. Changed “General Education” to “Liberal Arts Core.
  5. Eliminated old “Humanities Requirement”—take at least one course in Theology, English, or a Foreign Language.
  6. Developed three new overriding LAC outcomes, which faculty now include in their syllabuses. CLAE will begin assessing those this year.
  7. Established a system by which faculty assess discipline-specific learning outcomes related to the LAC and CLAE assesses the three overriding LAC outcomes.
  8. Is now facilitating an on-going discussion about the LAC and the degree to which it is preparing students for engagement with issues and concerns specific to the twenty-first century
  9. Reports have been received from each area/discipline that conducted assessment of one or more of its LAC objectives. If the committee were to administer a grade on our LAC assessment progress, it would be a B-. In other words, by and large this is a good-news report. As with any enterprise of this sort, we could be doing better as an institution. However, we should not underestimate what we have achieved in three years. With regard to assessing our LAC courses, we are doing what we should be doing, we are doing more than what many other institutions are doing, and we are committed to bolstering our LAC assessment program.
Strengths 
1) We have an assessment program in place and a committee committed to building and maintaining one that is even more robust and efficacious.  2) Most areas/disciplines charged with assessing at least one of its discipline-specific core objectives   3) Most areas/disciplines that have assessed LAC objectives have gathered fruitful information 4) CLAE has always been committed to helping areas and disciplines in the process and to making LAC assessment both productive and efficient (i.e., not unreasonably labor-intensive).
Areas to Address  1) Several areas/disciplines have not engaged in assessment of its LAC objectives. CLAE is charged with assuring assessment the LAC, so it will be asking these areas in AY 08-09 to initiate LAC assessment.  2) In the future, CLAE will annually submit two reports to the Assessment Committee and TracDat. The committee will conduct its own assessment of the three overriding LAC outcomes, and it will ensure that area/discipline reports—along with observations by CLAE—are submitted to the Assessment Committee.