Holistic Assessment

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Holistic Assessment

Institutional, Programmatic and Course Level Outcomes

Through the use of Waypoint Outcomes, data for our six Institutional Learning Outcomes is collected for analysis. University of the Rockies partners with Waypoint Outcomes™ LLC, a subsidiary of Bridgepoint Education, Inc., as a service provider of an online assessment tool, and a comprehensive platform for assessing and evaluating student work. University of the Rockies uses customized rubrics across an expanding range of programs to support student learning.

Learning outcomes are clearly defined at the institution, program, and course levels. Assessment at the program level proceeds from clear goals and actively involves faculty at all points of the process. These outcomes are measured both holistically and analytically, using direct and indirect methods.

Beginning in May of 2011, University of the Rockies conducted a series of critical thinking assessment sessions where approximately 90 faculty members were selected for participation. Courses were specifically identified to assure a thorough holistic view of the programs with regard to student performance in critical thinking. The faculty members participated in formal assessment sessions where student written assignments were evaluated using a critical thinking rubric that was designed and vetted by Rockies’ faculty. These assessments were designed to target, capture, and subsequently foster a granular analysis of the institutional outcome of critical thinking.


Rubric Performance Elements

  1. Identifies and Explains Issue/Problem/Question
  2. Analyzes and Synthesizes Assumptions and Evidence
  3. Evaluates Information and Evidence for Credibility
  4. Draws Conclusions; Determines Consequences and Implications
  5. Constructs and Presents Argument

Rubric Scale

  1. Does Not Meet Expectations
  2. Below Expectations
  3. Meets Expectations
  4. Above Expectations
  5. Far Exceeds Expectations

The resultant aggregate measure of student learning outcomes for critical thinking offers insight into student performance. Mixed with this and additional data indicators (including grades, the writing rubric, and end of course evaluations) the academic team recognized the need to strengthen our commitment to student success with regards to critical thinking resulting in the hiring of a Dean of Research, and the development of the Rockies Research Center, a SmartLab, and informational literacy tutorials.

Communication: Written

University of the Rockies recognizes that our model of education relies heavily on a student’s ability to write. And, though we recognize that verbal communication is also important, to start, effective writing is critically important to our students’ success. In order to better understand how well our students write, we conducted comprehensive “Holistic Assessments” on student work. That is, we wanted to see the level of writing from a sampling of students from all programs. Examples of student work were comprehensively reviewed by faculty assessors using a faculty-vetted Written Communication Rubric.

Communication: Scholarship

From the data in the Rockies Writing Center mixed with faculty feedback and a review of dissertations and thesis papers, the Assessment Committee recognized that students could benefit from a dedicated focus on scholarship achievement and learning. Further, the team agreed that it would be helpful to support students through leveraging technology and access to information about research, information literacy and analysis of information.

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