Northern Illinois University engages in assessment processes to answer important questions about the quality of students’ baccalaureate experiences. Assessment is one of the techniques the university uses to measure the extent to which it fulfills its educational mission, baccalaureate goals, and general education goals. Information from assessment processes helps the university improve courses, degree programs, and academic and student support services. Additionally, assessment activities provide information that is required at the state and national levels for certification and accreditation purposes. Most importantly, assessment processes tell us how well the university is meeting students’ needs.
The General Education Committee’s current assessment plan for the General Education program uses data collected from three different levels. The first level of data comes form the forms used for resubmission of general education courses for approval by the General Education Committee. The courses are reviewed for approval for General Education credit on an eight-year cycle. When a course is due for review it must be assessed by the individual faculty/departments using the procedures contained in the resubmission forms. These forms ask for information on the extent to which the learning outcomes are achieved by the individual courses. The instructor/department provides information on the relationship of the course objectives to the general education goals, methods used to assess the course objectives, results of the assessment, and how the results are used to improve attainment of the course objectives by the students. Approval of the resubmission by the General Education Committee indicates success in meeting the specific goals described by the department.
Secondly, the General Education Committee uses the data from all course submissions to assess the extent to which the General Education goals are met by the courses in the Core Competency and the Distributive Studies areas of general education. This is accomplished by developing a matrix which shows which general education goals are addressed by each course.
Thirdly, the General Education Committee employs other methods for assessing each of the general education goals. These data are gathered from the University Alumni Survey, the Writing Project and the University Critical Thinking Project. In addition, the Freshman Survey, Your First Year College Survey, and the College Study Survey which collect subjective data are used. These three surveys solicit students’ self-assessment of the curriculum’s impact on their learning and skill development, and the degree to which they perceive these to be personally important.