(GEAR) GLOBAL EDUCATION THROUGH ANALYTICAL REASONING
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) seeks to build a framework for student learning which connects to the mission of the university. Global Education through Analytical Reasoning (GEAR) delivers an integrated curriculum, taught by a highly trained faculty, focused on analytical reasoning and communication skills. The dual tracts of enhanced rigor in course instruction and faculty strengthening through the Global Inquiry Faculty Teaching Seminar (GIFTS) are the foundational cornerstones of our QEP. This QEP is relevant to JSU’s mission, values and environmental context.
DEVELOPMENT PROCESS FOR THE QEP
The process emerged from institutional assessment and included three concentrations:
I. Assessment of JSU’s Strategic Planning
A. Millenium Agenda (2002-2009)
B. Greatness and Regeneration (2009-2011)
C. Relevance to the Mission:
“The University produces technologically-advanced, diverse, ethical, global leaders who think critically, address societal problems and compete effectively.”
II. Assessment of the General Education core
A. The CBASE scores show continuous improvement in mathematics, some improvement in English and inconsistent improvement in science and social studies. These improvements may be attributed to the math and English strengthening programs initiated by the Office of the Provost and the Undergraduate Studies Division two years ago. The general education math and English curriculum enhancement programs include tutorials, student-centered syllabi, faculty availability for assistance, review and remediation, and repetitive one-on-one student/peer-led engagement with examinations and other assignments.
B. Improvements are sharply evident in mathematics for the 2006 cohort. Significant post-test results for 2004 and 2006 are also evident in writing. Actual decline from pre to post-test results is shown in history, laboratory and fieldwork, and fundamental concepts. Only marginal change is evident in reading and literature. Assessment of the curriculum begins to explicate student performance and provides a means by which enhancements to student learning could be achieved.
C. Data from the examination of CBASE curricular mapping identified weaknesses in the curriculum of the freshmen and sophomore years of the undergraduate core. Negligible concentration in reading critically and analytically, understanding literature, writing as a process and conventions of written English were found in University Success 100/101/105, Math 111, Biology 101 – 111/112 and Science 201. The infrequency of student interaction with the practice of reading and writing skills, especially in the freshman year, leaves little opportunity for improvements in skill levels by the end of the third semester of undergraduate study. The lack of interaction with these skill sets directly correlates to the period of study tested in the CBASE. Infusing reading and writing practicum into this section of the curriculum would allow students to progress in these areas and lead to a strengthening of foundational skills.
D. Further data assessment pointed to weaknesses in correctness of written and oral expression, problem solving/quantitative reasoning, reading literacy and information literacy. Through university-designed evaluations, the aforementioned competencies are tested through the disciplines. Strengthening of competencies in English (writing, reading, speaking and listening skills) would be reflected by improvements in student performance on university-designed evaluations.
E. Assessment of the CBASE Analytical Reasoning scores in interpretive reasoning, strategic reasoning and adaptive reasoning [Chart 5] brought into sharp focus the greatest weakness of student performance. The data illustrated resounding performance weaknesses through the dearth of students performing in the high category and abundance in the low category of both the pre- and post-tests. The comparison points out a flat data curve between pre- and post-test scores in interpretive reasoning, strategic reasoning and adaptive reasoning with high concentrations in the low category in strategic and adaptive reasoning. Specifically, the pre- and post-test scores for the High category of Strategic and Adaptive Reasoning for years 2004, 2005 and 2006 show 0%, 1% and 2% of students and virtually no change from pre- to post-test scores. Higher-level thinking skills of adaptive and strategic reasoning skills are precisely those needed to compete and lead in the new century.
F. Analysis of CBASE data and curriculum mapping revealed weaknesses in student English skills and illustrated sectors of the curriculum that provided little opportunity to practice and improve competencies in the area. Notwithstanding attempts to increase student performance in reading and writing, through strengthening programs initiated by the Office of the Provost and the Undergraduate Studies Division, low rates of student preparedness and curricular gaps have hindered student progress in competencies of English. It is not surprising, therefore, that large percentages of students perform low in tests of reasoning and show no improvement from pre to post-test. A plan that builds a thematically linked curriculum for first and second year students, tied to the university’s mission and focuses student learning on competencies in English on a foundational level and higher-level reasoning skills would improve student learning and provide improvements in the general education core. JSU is poised to dramatically increase the proposed student learning outcomes. Increased skills in English, and analytical reasoning and writing, taught through the lens of global awareness will lead to greater leadership capacity. These skills will be assessed through standardized and discipline specific measures.
III. Student assessments of the JSU teaching/learning environment.
A. Students identified themes that characterized their ideal learning environment. Their common concerns cut across three topics: enhancing the academic environment for student learning, strengthening the general studies curriculum and the use of innovative learning/teaching strategies.
B. Student Learning Outcomes
1. Students will be able to demonstrate competency in English and communication skills (writing, reading, speaking and listening skills).
2. Students will demonstrate critical multidisciplinary analytical and original thinking through core competencies of global inquiry.
C. Learning Outcomes, Measures, and Assessments
1. Assessment of Learning Outcome Number 1
a. Students will be able to demonstrate effective communication in English (writing, reading, speaking and listening skills).
i. Undergraduate English Proficiency Examination (UEPE) or its equivalent (using Rubrics). The UEPE will be taken at the end of the sophomore year.
ii. Speech Rubric
iii. Music Listening Rubric
b. Pre-post CBASE scores should be compared with the GEAR track in place for two years and then, thereafter, in two-year cycles. SAILS can also be used for this element. The College Basic Academic Subjects Examination (CBASE) will be used as university-wide barometers of improvement. Grading criteria will reflect both mastery of global analytical content and the ability of students to convey content. For first-time freshmen, the implementation of GEAR will begin in the first semester of the first year of study at JSU. Transfer students will be encouraged to take the GEAR program upon initial entry into the university.
2. Assessment of Learning Outcome Number 2
Students will be able to demonstrate critical multidisciplinary analytical and original thinking in core competencies in global inquiry
3. Measures of Learning Outcome Number 2
a. Analytical Essays, Research Papers, White Papers, and Portfolios: At least nine multidisciplinary faculty members will evaluate at least five global inquiry analytical essays, two research papers, two white papers, and review at least three graded assignments of freshmen and sophomore students contained in their portfolios.
b. Criterion Rating: Outstanding, Acceptable, and Unacceptable
i. Outstanding: Careful development of complex, multidisciplinary ideas with evidence of close reading of diverse literature, original thinking, correct grammar, coherent organization, correct use of citations
ii. Acceptable: Good multidisciplinary insight, depth of thought, adequate coherence and organization, minor grammatical errors, if any, that do not detract from body of work, correct use of citations.
iii. Unacceptable: Poor development of ideas, limited awareness of multidisciplinary synergies, repeated and distracting grammatical errors, incoherence
1. Why have two seemingly unrelated student learning outcomes?
Skills in English (reading, writing, speaking and listening) form the basis for higher level thinking skills. In order to affect analytical reasoning, we must first develop the basis of the skill.
2. How does the QEP relate to the Strategic Plan?
The proposed QEP ties directly to the first outcome of strategic planning: a singular focus on student learning/engagement competencies with concentration on critical thinking, global awareness and correctness of written and oral expression. Further, the methodology of the QEP begins to emerge through the second outcome of innovative pedagogy/experiential learning.
3. Why use global inquiry as the framework?
University Mission – “The University produces technologically-advanced, diverse, ethical, global leaders who think critically, address societal problems and compete effectively.”
E. Identification of the Topic: Global Education through Analytical Reasoning – GEAR
1. Analytical exercises create a context – a learning environment – an engaged community of learners within which and out of which real-world global challenges can be examined with attention to how knowledge is created, interpreted, and recreated. JSU’s global inquiry proposal privileges the art of asking questions and knowing when they have been and have not been well answered. JSU’s QEP equips faculty to guide analytical inquiry and prepares students to become competent problem-solvers in a learning environment that appreciates the dynamism of the local world we inhabit and its global linkages.
2. GEAR – Learning Community – A learning community can be defined as a structured program in which a small cohort of students enrolls in larger classes that faculty may or may not coordinate, but are instrumental in the entire process. Learning communities may also involve two or more classes linked thematically or by content which a cohort of students take together. In this instance, the faculty plans the program collaboratively. Learning communities may involve coursework that faculty members team-teach. The course work is embedded in an integrated program of study. The coursework usually is determined at the beginning and developmental stages of the learning community
3. Re-tooling the Faculty – GIFTS – Global Inquiry Faculty Teaching Seminar
1. Why analytical exercises?
The analytical exercises provide a context for the student learning outcomes.
2. Are the exercises fixed?
No, exercises are fluid; each year the analytical exercises are assessed, retooled and implemented.
G. Actions Implemented
1. Building Multidisciplinary Analytical Reasoning Communities in Global Inquiry (GEAR Pilot – 4 sections of UNIV 100)
2. Offering faculty institutes for strengthening analytical competencies in global education (GIFTSeminar)
3. Offering an interdisciplinary global inquiry core to first and second year students and explicitly linking that core to upper division seminars, contemporary topics, writing across the curriculum, capstone and study abroad/service learning courses/experiences