Overview of the Educational Evaluation
The College’s Student Learning Assessment Plan (SLAP) consists of two major components: (a) one for General Education and (b) another for each Degree Program registered with the New York State Department of Education.
General Education consists of a set of courses that address the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities the faculty and administration deem necessary for any graduate of Five Towns College to demonstrate in order to function effectively as an educated citizen in a democratic society. Among these essential General Education knowledge, skills, and abilities are the ability to think critically (Critical Analysis and Reasoning), to know how to locate and evaluate the quality of information (Information Literacy), to speak well (Oral Communication), to write well (Written Communication), and to have a basic understanding of scientific and quantitative research methods (Scientific Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning).
The faculty in each Degree Program offered at Five Towns College have also established a set of essential knowledge, skills, and abilities for each of their programs. For example, the BFA in Film and Television requires students wishing to graduate to demonstrate skills and knowledge in Cinematography, Directing, Film Literacy, Post Production, Producing, and Scriptwriting. In order to be awarded a BFA in Film and Television, a student must not only take the required courses in the Film and Television Division that provide instruction in these important areas, but must also demonstrate their ability to meet the designated Proficiencies in each required area.
Assessment of Student Learning
Principles Underlying the College’s Student Learning Assessment Plan
Five Towns College has formulated its SLAP based upon a number of principles. These principles were designed to assist in both the development and the implementation of the SLAP. They were also intended to make clear the values and guidelines underlying the SLAP. It should be noted that the process of designing and implementing the SLAP began in 2005 and is a dynamic process, not a static one. The SLAP undergoes regular reviews and modifications so that student learning at Five Towns can be constantly improved.
Scope of Student Assessment
- The College’s Student Learning Assessment Plan must emphasize the key values, skills, knowledge, abilities, and dispositions essential for not only the General Education Program but for each Program of Study.
- Every student will be informed during the semester of the courses and work required for which her/his progress on satisfying a Learning Standard for Proficiencies will be assessed.
- Every student enrolled at Five Towns College merits timely feedback on his/her progress in satisfying the Learning Standards for each Proficiency in the General Education Program and in her/his Program of Study.
- The primary role of administrators is to: (a) facilitate for students and faculty knowledge of the College’s SLAP, (b) ensure the collection, storage, and reporting of SLAP data, and (c) oversee the process of making changes based upon SLAP data.
- Assessment specialists will provide ongoing individualized and group instruction to faculty and students.
- Administrators will ensure that “a culture of assessment” is maintained at the College.
- The Division faculty are responsible for the development and refinement of the Proficiencies, Learning Standards, Courses, Artifacts, and Rubrics for their particular degree programs.
- Changes in the SLAP are the responsibility of Division faculty.
- Any instructor teaching a course for which an Artifact is required must ensure that the students are aware of their responsibility to produce and submit the required Artifact, and then apply the appropriate Rubric related to the Proficiency.
- The Academic Divisions must review the Student Learning Assessment data.
Student Learning Assessment
- Student assessment is “data-driven” and “performance-based.”
- Assessment data must reasonably document that a student has attained the College’s Learning Standard for Proficiency.
- Assessment data may range from video clips, audio files, rating sheets, and portfolios to PowerPoint presentations, photographs, worksheets, manuscripts, final examinations, etc. Data do not need to be paper-and-pencil-based, e.g., corrected tests, quizzes, and examinations.
- Assessment data will be collected during each semester and reported at least annually.
- Assessment data ought to promote interrater reliability.
- Assessment data should be collected, scored, and analyzed each semester.
- Assessment data should promote the documentation of growth in student learning.
- Learning outcomes are verified by the participation of faculty, who score the artifacts, review assessment reports, and examine data. Reports on assessment data are used to support, along with the experience and observations of the faculty and academic leadership, the achievement of learning outcomes.
- Standardized tests should only be utilized as Artifacts if College-developed Artifacts are unavailable, unreliable, or are time-consuming or expensive to administer.
The Framework for Student Learning Assessment
The College’s SLAP is designed conceptually as a hierarchical structure. At the apex of the Plan is each degree program. Next, each program is categorized by a number of competency areas, termed “Proficiencies.” Each Proficiency designates an important aspect of learning for a particular degree. For the BFA in Film and Television, the Proficiency might cover “Cinematography,” or the ability to capture images of professional quality, and with these images reflect the mood, vision, and goals of the director of the Film and Television project by controlling composition, lighting, and exposure. Each of the Proficiencies required in a Degree Program or for General Education is deemed critical to acquire for any graduating student.
Next in the hierarchical structure is a Learning Standard established for each Proficiency. The Learning Standard indicates the types of specific behaviors or performance expected of a student in a required course in order to demonstrate that a student has been able to minimally meet the level of aptitude required for the Proficiency. Learning Standards are behavioral, objective, and measurable so that they do not leave much latitude for variability in an instructor’s judgment of whether a standard has been or has not been met. An example of a “Learning Standard” for the Proficiency “Oral Communication” is that a student must “Develop a meaningful and effective voice in order to deliver a well-organized, content-rich, and articulated public presentation.”
In each required course for a Proficiency, a student must provide a specified document, final examination, presentation, research paper, project, or other type of material. This material is submitted electronically through Canvas, is evaluated by the appropriate division faculty, and becomes evidence to determine if the student has met the Learning Standard. The required material to document the attainment of a Learning Standard is referred to as the Artifact. Artifacts are stored electronically in Canvas, the College’s Learning Management System.
Rubrics Uphold Student Evaluations
Rather than evaluating an Artifact with only traditional grades (e.g., “A,” “B,” etc.), faculty employ a Rubric. The Rubric is a scaled evaluation tool that contains categories with numerical rankings (1-5), descriptive headings (Unacceptable, Emerging, Proficient, Target, and Exceeds Expectations), and descriptions of the quality of work that govern the evaluation given. To score the Artifact, the faculty choose the numerical scoring category that best describes the Artifact.
The Process Established for Student Learning Assessment
Although each academic division at the College may deviate somewhat from the overall student learning assessment process described here, major variations do not usually occur.
All students admitted to the College enroll in a particular degree program (e.g., BBA, Business Management). Some also enroll in a concentration within their degree program (e.g., BBA, Business Management – Audio Recording Technology).
Every degree program and concentration has its own roster of Proficiencies and Learning Standards. Each Proficiency is to be demonstrated during a student’s academic journey through the degree program through the submission of an Artifact, which will be produced in a particular class. Because modifications to Proficiencies and Learning Standards may be made from one academic year to another, Templates which house this information may be updated annually. Templates are usually not changed during the course of an academic year, except in rare circumstances, and then only at the discretion of the faculty and academic chair in consultation with the Provost and the Director of Institutional Research and Assessment.
When a student enrolls in a required Proficiency course, the Artifact for the course should be submitted by the student on the Canvas course page for their Artifact assignment. Once the Artifact is submitted, the instructor will evaluate the Artifact using the designated Rubric for the Proficiency demonstrated by the student’s work. The student will be able to view the evaluation of their Artifact once the instructor has applied the Rubric.
A Dictionary of Student Learning Assessment Terms
Artifact: The type of data or information collected, stored, and evaluated by faculty for a course in order to demonstrate that a student has fulfilled the Learning Standard for a Proficiency. Artifacts may consist of research papers, projects, film clips, recorded speeches, recitals, final examinations, scripts, compositions, and other types of material.
Example: The Artifact for the “Oral Communication” Proficiency can be Speech #2 (recorded and evaluated in SPE 101, Fundamentals of Speech), Speech #6 (recorded and evaluated in SPE 231, Public Speaking), or a speech from another SPE course.
Course: The specific course title and course ID number required for successful completion of a Proficiency in order to demonstrate that an Artifact has met the Learning Standard.
Example: SPE 101, Fundamentals of Speech
Learning Standard: The requirements specified in order to fulfill a designated Proficiency. The Learning Standard is a written description of the knowledge, skill, or ability necessary to satisfy the designated Proficiency.
Example: The Learning Standard for the “Oral Communication” Proficiency is: “Develop a meaningful and effective voice in order to deliver a well-organized, content-rich and articulated public presentation.”
Mission Statement: The guiding principles of the General Education and Division assessment plans.
Example: The Mission Statement for the General Education Program is: “The General Education Program promotes intellectual growth in the humanities and both the social and natural sciences as undergraduate students acquire essential skills in critical thinking, communication, and creativity, thus enriching them with a recognition of human behavior and experience. Through the fundamental study of values, ethics, and diverse perspectives, students thrive in a dynamic learning community and through self-expression, while demonstrating responsibility for their role in shaping campus life and as productive, confident, and environmentally aware citizens of the world. The General Education Program prepares students to address global challenges with context and sensitivity to the human condition, while fostering an appreciation for the musical and artistic traditions of the College.”
Portfolio Template: The Portfolio Template includes the Mission and Goals of a Degree Program. Also included in the Portfolio Template are all the required Proficiencies, Learning Standards, Courses, and Artifacts for the Degree Program. All matriculating undergraduate students’ learning assessment is governed by the General Education Portfolio Template in addition to their applicable Degree Program Portfolio Template and Concentration Portfolio Template. Graduate students’ learning assessment is governed only by the Degree Program Portfolio Template and, when appropriate, the Concentration Portfolio Template.
Example: (see General Education Requirements below for an example of a Portfolio Template)
Proficiency: A specific knowledge, skill, or ability designated by the faculty as a required competence for completion of a degree program or for General Education. Proficiencies are also referred to as “learning outcomes” or “student learning goals.”
Examples: Oral Communication, Accounting, Acting, Cinematography
Rubric: A classification system for evaluating a student’s performance on an Artifact. The classification consists of a five-point scale with designated numerical identities, a summary word / heading to describe the category, and a standard written evaluation for the category.
Speech #2, Speech #6, or Speech (SPE 101, or SPE 131, or SPE ___)
1 – Unacceptable: Student has not demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to communicate orally by preparing public presentations that are organized and substantive. Student displays of oral communication skills are characterized by hesitation, either verbally or non-verbally, or the speech was not done.
2 – Emerging: Student demonstrates below average knowledge, skills, and abilities required to communicate orally by preparing public presentations that are organized and substantive. Student displays these abilities most of the time without hesitation both verbally and non-verbally, or the speech was not done by the assigned deadline.
3 – Proficient: Student demonstrates average knowledge, skills, and abilities required to communicate orally by preparing public presentations that are organized and substantive. Student displays these abilities most of the time without hesitation both verbally and non-verbally, the speech was done by the assigned deadline.
4 – Target: Student demonstrated above average knowledge, skills, and abilities required to communicate orally by preparing public presentations that are organized and substantive. Student displays these abilities most of the time without hesitation both verbally and non-verbally, and the speech was done by the assigned deadline.
5 – Exceeds Expectations: Student demonstrates exemplary knowledge, skills, and abilities required to consistently communicate orally by preparing and delivering well-organized, content-rich, and articulate public presentations. Student displays these abilities without hesitation both verbally and non-verbally, and the speech was done by the assigned deadline.
For a matriculated student to be awarded a degree from Five Towns College, s/he must fulfill a number of basic requirements. These requirements have expanded in the past several years as a result of the College’s new Student Learning Assessment Plan.
What follows below are the College’s current graduation requirements:
- Establishment of matriculation for a degree
- Completion of the minimum number and distribution of credits required for the particular degree sought
- A minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average of 2.0 for undergraduate students and 3.0 for graduate students and undergraduate Music Education students
- Settlement of all College financial and other obligations
- Satisfaction of all General Education Proficiency requirements
- Satisfaction of all Degree-Program Proficiency requirements
- Filing of an Application for Graduation with the Registrar’s Office and paying the appropriate fee
Further information on these requirements can be found in the College Catalog.
Every student must realize that the failure to satisfy even one of these requirements may result in either a delay in graduation or failure to graduate. The importance of understanding and fulfilling each requirement is, therefore, paramount.
General Education Requirements
General Education Requirements
General Education requirements apply to all undergraduate students, no matter what their degree program. General Education Proficiencies identified in this section are considered by Five Towns, and most other accredited colleges and universities, as knowledge, skills, and abilities essential for anyone awarded a college diploma and deemed “well educated.” These Proficiencies concern the abilities to think critically, to know how to locate and evaluate the quality of information, to speak well, to write well, and to have a basic understanding of scientific and quantitative research methods.
Liberal Arts and Sciences Division
A.A. Liberal Arts Program (core) / General Education Program
The General Education Program promotes intellectual growth in the humanities and both the social and natural sciences as undergraduate students acquire essential skills in critical thinking, communication, and creativity, thus enriching them with a recognition of human behavior and experience. Through the fundamental study of values, ethics, and diverse perspectives, students thrive in a dynamic learning community and through self-expression, while demonstrating responsibility for their role in shaping campus life and as productive, confident, and environmentally aware citizens of the world. The General Education Program prepares students to address global challenges with context and sensitivity to the human condition, while fostering an appreciation for the musical and artistic traditions of the College.
Graduates of the College must demonstrate mastery in each of the Proficiencies listed below.
The Learning Standards for these Proficiencies are based upon a Rubric that assesses Artifacts submitted to meet these Proficiencies on a five (5) point scale of achievement:
(1) Unacceptable, (2) Emerging, (3) Proficient, (4) Target, or (5) Exceeds Expectations
Critical Analysis and Reasoning
Learning Standard: Explain, interpret and assess through academic writing the ability to understand and successfully analyze the theme, organization, style, evidence, and strength of argumentative and creative texts presented.
Course: ENG 102, English Composition 2
Artifact: Research Paper (ENG102)
Learning Standard: Identify, locate, evaluate, and utilize reputable sources to support thesis-driven writing and cite such sources according to institutional standards.
Course: ENG 102, English Composition 2
Artifact: Research Paper (ENG 102)
Learning Standard: Develop a meaningful and effective voice in order to deliver a well-organized, content-rich, and articulated public presentation.
Course: SPE 101, Fundamentals of Oral Communication or SPE 131, Intro to Public Speaking or other speech class (SPE ____)
Artifact: Speech #2 (SPE 101) or Speech #6 (SPE 131) or Speech (SPE ____)
Learning Standard: To develop the quantitative and analytical reasoning skills of all students in order to solve real world problems.
Course: MAT ____ (any math, not developmental)
Artifact: Written Test or Project (MAT ____)
Learning Standard: A hands-on, inquiry-based approach to the scientific method (observation, experimentation, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) which relies upon empirical evidence and testable hypotheses to describe, understand, predict, and control natural phenomena.
Course: SCI ____ (any science, not SCI 101 / 103 / 141)
Artifact: Project (SCI ____)
Learning Standard: Write clear and concise, thesis-driven essays supported by evidence and logic with proficiency in spelling, grammar, and syntax.
Course: ENG 101, English Composition 1
Artifact: Essay (ENG 101)