Open Pathway Quality Initiative

When our accreditation was reaffirmed in 2013, the HLC granted us “open pathway” status. One of the HLC’s expectations for Open Pathway institutions is that they undertake one major improvement effort as its Quality Initiative (QI) for Reaffirmation of Accreditation. In Summer 2019, we proposed — and the HLC endorsed — “General Education Assessment at Wooster: Our Pilot” as our QI. Our QI commenced in Fall 2019 and our committees’ work completed the Friday preceding Spring break 2020. And even though that would be the last time we were together in person, we completed the QI and submitted our report to the HLC in August 2021.

Our QI in Brief

  • The purpose of Wooster’s Quality Initiative (QI) was to jumpstart the assessment of our general education curriculum through a pilot approach applied to two of our general education requirements.  Our general education curriculum is based on two definitions of liberal arts – exposure to different epistemologies and exposure to different areas of inquiry. 
  • To achieve our objective, we
    • Selected one of each type of requirement; of the two, one (Quantitative Literacy – area of inquiry) already had assessable learning objectives, the other (History & Social Science – distributional) did not
    • Identified direct and indirect assessment measures for the Quantitative Literacy requirement
    • Developed assessable learning objectives and identified direct and indirect assessment measures for the History & Social Science requirement
    • Collected and analyzed assessment data for both requirements, with the primary purpose of assessing our measures.  Our data collection was limited by the need for our faculty and staff to shift energies to continuing our educational program through the pandemic
    • Identified the key elements of a general education assessment plan.
  • The QI relied on the contributions of its coordinating committee, the Quantitative Literacy Committee, the History & Social Sciences Committee, faculty teaching Quantitative Literacy or History & Social Sciences courses, the Assessment Reports Review Committee, our Provost, and our President.
  • Other than collecting fewer artifacts for analysis, we made no changes to our QI plan.  Given how the pandemic affected higher education and our communities, and our students, staff, and faculty, we decided that to the extent we could continue as planned, the better.
  • For our ongoing general education assessment work, we learned that in addition to assessable learning objectives and well-developed assessment measures, the following are essential:
    • having a diverse group of faculty develop and refine learning goals and create a rubric is both productive and fun
    • obtaining input and feedback from departments during the process is key to buy-in
    • assignments should be designed with the learning goals in mind rather than looking for the learning goals in assignments that have already been written
    • it is easier to have faculty score their own assignments – and insightful for the faculty, too.
  • The QI has stimulated discussions on how best to approach assessing all our general education requirements
  • Along with challenges of the pandemic came opportunities. The creative approaches used by our faculty yielded new forms of assignments, enabling raters to apply the rubric to different modes of student work. 
  • Our focus on Quantitative Literacy and History & Social Sciences does not end with the completion of the QI. We have several “next steps” as we complete our work and shift from assessing our assessment approach to assessing student learning in these areas.
  • We are confident that we now have the understanding, skills, and experience to proceed to create an assessment plan for the remainder of our general education requirements.  This Fall, we plan to present our Educational Policy Committee with a few options for general education assessment drawn from our QI experience and general education assessment models at other colleges.

More about our QI and the QI Process

The QI Team

The Quantitative Literacy Committee

The History & Social Sciences Committee

The Assessment Reports Review Committee

The Faculty who Contributed Student Assignments

President Bolton and Provost Perfetti

The QI Coordinating Committee