Assessment of the Core Curriculum
The University of Nevada, Reno's competencies-based Core Curriculum trains students in communication, quantitative reasoning, methods of inquiry, critical and creative thinking, and integration, synthesis and application of knowledge. It is also integrated into each major, so that the knowledge and skills described in the 14 Core Objectives can be developed throughout a student's progress towards the undergraduate degree.
The Cycle of Core Assessment
The Core Curriculum Board oversees a five-year cycle of Core assessment, based on the following schedule:
- 2016-17: Science - Mathematics & Statistics (including Core Math), CLA - Humanities (English, History, Philosophy, WLL), DHS - Nursing, CABNR - BMB
- 2017-18: Science - Earth Sciences (Geography, Geological Sciences & Engineering, Mining Engineering), CLA - Social Sciences (Anthropology, Communication Studies, GRI, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology), DHS - Social Work, CABNR - ANVS, Business - BS in Business Admin programs and Economics BA
- 2018-19: Science - Natural Sciences (Biology [and Neuroscience, with Psychology], Chemistry, Microbiology, Physics), CLA - Fine Arts (Art, Music, Theatre) and Criminal Justice, DHS - CHS, CABNR - NRES, Education - HDFS
- 2019-20: DHS - Speech Pathology & Audiology, Journalism, Education - Secondary Ed, Integrated Elementary Teaching, and NevadaTeach, Engineering, General Studies, Honors
- 2020-21: Core Curriculum Self-Study
When an academic unit comes up in the current five-year cycle for assessment, it will collect from its faculty "Initial Form" assessment reports on all of its courses satisfying Core Objectives and deliver those reports and supplementary documents (see item 3 below) to the Core Office. After that initial academic year of assessment data collection, the department will collect from its faculty and submit to the Core Office, upon request by the Core Objective committees, a "Follow-Up Form"for its courses satisfying the original CO (see item 2 below). The Core Office will store these reports online for the relevant Core Objective Committees to review.
Procedures for Core Assessment
- If a course satisfies more than 1 CO, its instructor should assess all COs.
- Faculty teaching a course that satisfies a CO will provide a completed, data-driven assessment report (using the Initial Form) during the year of assessment in the above cycle. For the remainder of the four-year cycle, faculty will provide commentary on any significant changes to these courses, particularly revised SLOs (using the Follow-Up Form). If the relevant Core Committee expresses in their Response to Initial Form any concerns regarding the number/percentage of students failing to meet SLOs in the course or regarding the quality of student work (see item 4 below), the faculty member will be asked to report on modifications as part of these commentary reports. When the course is taught by a different faculty member, previous assessment reports will be provided to this faculty member, but a new assessment report will be required.
- Faculty should submit a completed assessment report (Initial Form), assignment(s) that serves as the performance indicator, student work collected and assessed for that assignment, assessment tool(s) used (e.g., rubrics), and syllabus to a designated departmental representative by the 8th week of the fall or spring semester following the course (in the case of summer courses, reports will be due in the fall semester).
- The Core Office encourages assessing the work of the entire student population whenever possible; however, when this is not feasible, faculty should rely on random sampling of student work. In a class with fewer than 100 students, 10 should be selected for assessment, and in a class with more than 100 students, at least 10% of the population should be selected for assessment. For Core assessment conducted at a department level (Core Writing, Core Math, and Core Humanities), a department representative may submit an aggregate report, so long as at least 10% of the total student population is represented. In all cases, the Core Office will collect and store online these reports and supplementary documents and anonymized student work for the appropriate Core Committee to review.
- The Core Office will provide guidelines defining exceeding, meeting, and failing to meet an SLO for faculty using Core Board-approved rubrics. If faculty members use their own criteria or rubrics, they will be asked to explain in their assessment reports their definitions of exceeding, meeting, and failing to meet SLOs.
- The Core Office will coordinate with faculty, advise when necessary, and provide models, as well as gauge the effectiveness of assessment activities, but Core Committees will act as oversight committees in gauging faculty members' standards for students exceeding/meeting/failing to meet SLOs and the quantitative measurement of SLOs. They will also have the opportunity to review student work. In this manner, Core courses will not be assessed solely by parties invested in their continued Core status (faculty and departments offering the courses).