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Direct Assessment

Direct assessment is critical for evaluating Experience Learning’s impact on student learning at UT. This assessment will use a series of rubrics designed around each of the student learning outcomes and associated benchmarks. The rubrics are adapted from the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) rubrics.

Each rubric is intended to evaluate students’ level of competence across key domains such as critical and creative thinking, global learning, oral communication, teamwork, and quantitative reasoning. The rubrics have demonstrated good reliability and validity and are popular tools utilized by institutions throughout the United States. We have adopted these rubrics and adapted them for use as tools to evaluate our four student learning outcomes.

Students will value the importance of engaged scholarship and lifelong learning.

For students to truly commit to engaged scholarship and lifelong learning, they must acknowledge and come to value the potential importance and benefit that can be derived from such a commitment. Students, as future graduates, would not be expected to invest the time and effort required to continually engage real-world problems unless they find such engagement to be of importance for members of the communities confronting the problem as well as something they personally value. Overall, the first student learning outcome focuses on and assesses the development and magnitude of the value students place on engaged scholarship and lifelong learning.

Benchmark 1

Show evidence of interest in the problems of society (needs of others)

  1. Explores a real-world problem at a surface level, providing little insight or information beyond the basic facts indicating low interest in the problem.
  2. Explores a real-world problem with some evidence of depth, providing occasional insight or information indicating mild interest in the problem.
  3. Explores a real-world problem in depth, yielding insight or information indicating interest in the problem.
  4. Explores a real-world problem in depth, yielding a rich awareness indicating intense interest in the problem and helping those affected.

Benchmark 2

Value (i.e., offer a positive attitude toward) the use of engaged scholarship to address societal problems

  1. Completes required work.
  2. Completes required work; identifies opportunities to expand knowledge, skills, and abilities beyond required work.
  3. Completes required work; identifies and pursues opportunities to expand knowledge, skills, and abilities beyond required work.
  4. Completes required work; generates and pursues opportunities to expand knowledge, skills, and abilities beyond required work.

Benchmark 3

Demonstrate a desire to utilize engaged scholarship

  1. Cannot articulate the potential benefits of engaged scholarship but is open to utilizing it to address the real-world problem.
  2. Recognizes the potential benefits of engaged scholarship to address the real-world problem.
  3. Recognizes the potential benefits of engaged scholarship to address the real-world problems and acknowledges potential benefits beyond the immediate project.
  4. Articulates a deep recognition of the potential value of engaged scholarship to address the real-world problem as well as the potential benefits beyond the immediate project.

Benchmark 4

Demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning

  1. Begins to look beyond classroom requirements, showing interest in pursuing knowledge independently, but takes no action.
  2. Beyond classroom requirements, pursues additional knowledge and shows interest in pursuing independent educational experiences.
  3. Beyond classroom requirements, pursues additional knowledge and actively pursues independent educational experiences.
  4. Educational interests and pursuits exist and flourish outside classroom requirements. Knowledge and experiences are pursued independently that build on classroom requirements.

Students will develop and apply knowledge, values, and skills in solving real-world problems.

Beyond acknowledging and valuing the importance of experiential and lifelong learning, the experiential learning process requires active student engagement through the development and application of knowledge, values, and skills in solving real-world problems. Students must encounter a problem, assess the needs of the community affected by the problem, and then enlarge and apply their knowledge, skills, and dispositions toward problem solutions. Overall, the second student learning outcome focuses on and assesses the extent to which students are engaging in real-world problems and developing and applying their knowledge, skills, and values toward understanding and solving the problem.

Benchmark 1

Clearly describe a real-world problem amenable to engaged scholarship

  1. Real-world problem is stated without clarification or description.
  2. Real-world problem is stated but description leaves some terms undefined, ambiguities unexplored, or context unknown.
  3. Real-world problem is stated, described, and clarified so that understanding is not seriously impeded by omissions.
  4. Real-world problem is stated clearly and described comprehensively, delivering all relevant information necessary for full understanding.

Benchmark 2

Analyze literature (content/research methods) related to the problem

  1. Information is taken from sources without any interpretation and evaluation. Viewpoints of experts are not questioned.
  2. Information is taken from source(s) with some interpretation and evaluation, but not enough to develop a coherent analysis or synthesis. Viewpoints of experts are rarely questioned.
  3. Information is taken from sources with enough interpretation and evaluation to develop a coherent analysis or synthesis. Viewpoints of experts are sometimes questioned.
  4. Information is taken from sources with enough interpretation and evaluation to develop a comprehensive analysis or synthesis. Viewpoints of experts are questioned thoroughly.

Benchmark 3

Formulate an inquiry approach driven by questions relevant to the problem

  1. Considers only a single approach and uses it to address the real-world problem.
  2. Considers and rejects less appropriate approaches to address the real-world problem.
  3. Develops a logical, consistent approach to address the real-world problem.
  4. Develops a logical, consistent approach to address the real-world problem, recognizes consequences of this approach and can articulate reasons for choosing this approach.

Benchmark 4

Recognize potential ethical issues related to addressing the problem

  1. Recognizes basic and obvious ethical issues but fails to grasp complexity or interrelationships.
  2. Recognizes basic and obvious ethical issues and grasp some of the complexities or interrelationships among the issues.
  3. Recognizes ethical issues when presented in a complex, multilayered context OR can grasp relationships among the issues.
  4. Recognizes ethical issues when presented in a complex, multilayered context AND can recognize relationships among the issues.

Benchmark 5

Employ the selected inquiry approach by collecting and analyzing data and drawing conclusions and making inferences (interpreting)

  1. Lists evidence, but it is not organized or is unrelated to the real-world problem then states an ambiguous or unsupported conclusion.
  2. Organizes evidence, but the organization is not effective in revealing important information related to the real-world problem then states a general conclusion that is beyond the scope of the findings.
  3. Organizes evidence to reveal important information related to the real-world problem then states a conclusion based solely on these findings.
  4. Organizes and synthesizes evidence to reveal insightful and meaningful information critical to addressing the real-world problem then states a specific conclusion that is a logical extrapolation from these findings.

Benchmark 6

Apply findings toward addressing the problem

  1. Formulates illogical or unsupported solutions to the real-world problem.
  2. Formulates practical yet elementary solutions to address the real-world problem.
  3. Plans and evaluates more complex solutions to address the real-world problem.
  4. Applies knowledge and skills to implement sophisticated, appropriate, and workable solutions to address the real-world problem.

Students will work collaboratively with others.

Real-world problems are often complicated, multifaceted, and deeply interrelated with other societal problems. Such problems are not amenable to quick fixes by single agents acting alone. Real-world problems often require the collaboration of experts from multiple fields working in concert with the broad constituencies of increasingly diverse communities. Students therefore must become adept at working in a collaborative manner with a range of peers, relevant experts, and a diverse set of community members. Overall, the third student learning outcome focuses on and assesses students’ ability to work collaboratively on a real-world problem in concert with a broad range of individuals in a variety of relevant roles and contexts.

Benchmark 1

Participate in collaborative interactions

  1. Supports a constructive team climate by doing any one of the following:
    • Treats team members respectfully.
    • Conveys a positive attitude about the team and its work.
    • Expresses confidence about the importance of the project and the team’s ability to accomplish it.
    • Provides assistance and encouragement to team members.
  2. Supports a constructive team climate by doing any two of the following:
    • Treats team members respectfully.
    • Conveys a positive attitude about the team and its work.
    • Expresses confidence about the importance of the project and the team’s ability to accomplish it.
    • Provides assistance and encouragement to team members.
  3. Supports a constructive team climate by doing any three of the following:
    • Treats team members respectfully.
    • Conveys a positive attitude about the team and its work.
    • Expresses confidence about the importance of the project and the team’s ability to accomplish it.
    • Provides assistance and encouragement to team members.
  4. Supports a constructive team climate by doing all of the following:
    • Treats team members respectfully.
    • Conveys a positive attitude about the team and its work.
    • Expresses confidence about the importance of the project and the team’s ability to accomplish it.
    • Provides assistance and encouragement to team members.

Benchmark 2

Support group processes

  1. Engages team members by taking turns and listening to others without interrupting.
  2. Engages team members in ways that facilitate their contributions to the project by restating the views of other team members and/or asking questions for clarification.
  3. Engages team members in ways that facilitate their contributions to the project by constructively building upon or synthesizing the contributions of others.
  4. Engages team members in ways that facilitate their contributions to the project by both constructively building upon or synthesizing the contributions of others as well as noticing when someone is not participating and inviting them to engage.

Benchmark 3

Be attentive to the ideas of others

  1. Shares ideas but does not advance the work of the team.
  2. Offers new suggestions to advance the work of the team.
  3. Offers alternative solutions or courses of action that build on the ideas of others.
  4. Helps the team move forward by articulating the merits of team members’ ideas or proposals.

Benchmark 4

Offer relevant questions and comments

  1. Rarely shows the ability to listen and respond to the diverse perspectives of others.
  2. Occasionally shows the ability to listen and respond effectively to the diverse perspectives of others.
  3. Frequently shows the ability to listen and respond effectively to the diverse perspectives of others.
  4. Tailors communication strategies to effectively listen and respond to the diverse perspectives of others.

Benchmark 5

Meet obligations for group assignments on a timely basis

  1. Completes all assigned tasks by deadline.
  2. Completes all assigned tasks by deadline; work advances the project.
  3. Completes all assigned tasks by deadline; work is thorough, comprehensive, and advances the project.
  4. Completes all assigned tasks by deadline; work is thorough, comprehensive, and advances the project. Proactively helps team members complete their assigned tasks to a similar level of excellence.

Students will utilize structured reflection as a part of the inquiry process.

Experiential learning requires students to actively engage in reflection during and after the process of addressing a real-world problem. Students are expected to reflect in action—reflection that occurs when students are engaging a problem and thinking about the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that they constantly must interactively draw upon to address the problem. Students are also expected to reflect on action—reflection that occurs when students think about their overall experience, especially from the perspective of the lessons they have learned and can carry forward when addressing future problems. Overall, the fourth student learning outcome is focused on and assesses the extent to which students are engaged in reflection throughout and beyond their efforts to address a real-world problem.

Benchmark 1

Use structured reflection in assessing an engaged inquiry experience

  1. Recognizes connections among experiences but cannot articulate specific impact on own learning.
  2. Identifies limited number of specific examples of experiences that contributed to deeper understanding of the inquiry process.
  3. Identifies several specific examples of experiences that contributed to deeper understanding of the inquiry process.
  4. Meaningfully synthesizes connections among experiences to deepen understanding of the inquiry process.

Benchmark 2

Assess what they have learned about themselves as an individual (self-awareness) from experiences

  1. Describes own performance with general descriptors of success and failure.
  2. Describes strengths and areas for improvement within prior experiences to increase effectiveness.
  3. Thoroughly evaluates changes in own learning over time and recognizes the complex factors that impacted learning in prior experiences.
  4. Demonstrates a developing sense of self as a learner to build upon experiences to respond to new and challenging real-world problems.

Benchmark 3

Assess what they have learned about themselves as members of the broader community

  1. No awareness of learning about self because of involvement with broader community and no commitment to ongoing community engagement.
  2. Awareness of learning about self because of involvement with broader community but cannot articulate specific examples. No articulation of a commitment to ongoing community engagement.
  3. Some reflection on what they have learned about self because of involvement with broader community and demonstrates a commitment to ongoing community engagement.
  4. Thoroughly describes what they have learned about self because of involvement with broader community and demonstrates a clear commitment to ongoing community engagement.

Benchmark 4

Use reflection on the inquiry process to guide lifelong learning

  1. Reviews prior learning at a surface level, without revealing clarified meaning or indicating a broader perspective about educational or life events.
  2. Reviews prior learning with some depth, revealing slightly clarified meanings or indicating somewhat broader perspectives about educational or life events.
  3. Reviews prior learning in depth, revealing fully clarified meanings or indicating broader perspectives about educational or life events.
  4. Reviews prior learning in depth to reveal significantly changed perspectives about educational and life experiences, which provide foundation for expanded knowledge, growth, and maturity over time.

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