Increasingly national and international education officials, accreditors, and faculty leaders associate “quality” education with student learning outcomes and continuous quality improvement processes. Academic leaders and accrediting bodies discourage viewing education as a simple act of passing a static body of knowledge from faculty to students. Instead, they value education practiced as a commitment to a set of collectively-practiced, ongoing activities: making institutional choices about the most important goals for student learning and defining the learning in terms of desired outcomes; developing a shared faculty commitment to actions such as high impact, active learning strategies and faculty development designed to increase student achievement; making informed judgments about student achievement; and ensuring continuous improvements in the educational program. Despite the commitment of academic leaders and accreditors to these processes, too few institutions have succeeded in applying systematic improvement processes to the general education program. As a result, higher education accountability and improvement discussions assume higher education can benefit from models of innovative and effective general education program assessment.
The Association for General and Liberal Studies is the national organization whose mission is singularly committed to quality general education programs and their central role in the liberal education of students. The organization invites institutions to apply for the 2013 AGLS Award for Improving General Education: Exemplary Program Processes. The Award promotes institutional commitment to continuous quality improvement processes, recognizes faculty and institutions that practice these quality behaviors, and provides much needed examples of effective improvement processes. The 2013 Award will recognize institutions committed to systematic improvements driven by learning assessment. The Award will recognize institutions using assessment to reconsider learning goals, develop a shared commit to improved learning strategies, and determine the success of these efforts. AGLS will recognize as many as three institutions employing effective and innovative assessment processes. Applicants should limit their focus to assessment of just one goal, general education outcome, or area of learning.Judges will identify the best improvement model for each of three different learning areas. The Awards presentation will be made during the 2013 Annual AGLS Conference, September 19-21, in Indianapolis, IN. Representatives from recognized institutions will be asked to present their assessment processes in identified special sessions and, if possible, provide a poster presentation for display throughout the conference. Recipients will receive the following: a plaque recognizing their successes; recognition on the AGLS website, a highlight article in the AGLS e-Newsletter; half-priced 2013 conference registration fee for two representatives; and half-off an institutional annual membership for the 2014 year.
The Association issues a call for applications in early spring, with a deadline for receipt of submissions in mid-June. The application and evaluation rubric for the 2013 cycle are below.
The judges gave high praise to Wofford biology faculty for their thorough and creative work in assessing scientific learning, especially considering how many students pursue degrees in biology and how important learning in biology is to so many additional majors. While the application is written with modesty, the effort and results are outstanding. One judge noted that Wofford approached the assessment of biology as if it were a scientific problem. All the judges praised the department’s use of multiple means of assessment that validate student learning, and they appreciated the quality and value of the poster project, the deep analysis of the results, and the honest reporting of the mixed feelings of the students.
Stephen Bowen, Oxford College
Jerry Gaff, recently retired as Senior Scholar at AAC&U
Michael Gress, Vincennes University; Chair of the Awards Committee
John Nichols, St. Joseph’s College, Rensellaer, IN
Lynn Priddy, Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association
Lenore Rodicio, Miami Dade College
Stephen Spangehl, Director of the Higher Education division of Plexus International
Marcy Stoll, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Barbara Wright, Western Association of Schools and Colleges
|2011||George Mason University and Stetson University|
|2010||Carleton College, Champlain College and Wright State University|
|2009||James Madison University|
|2008||Miami Dade College and University of North Dakota|
|2007||Portland State University, Eastern Michigan University and University of North Carolina at Asheville|