By Kevin Gable, Bacc Core Chair
Category review by the Baccalaureate Core Committee is an important element of maintaining the Bacc Core as a a vital piece of the OSU undergraduate curriculum. The committee considers a variety of information about a course: data extracted from BANNER regarding the group of students served by the course; information provided by the unit offering the course (including detailed description of assessment processes and interpretations of assessment data); and soon, responses by students to questions on eSET forms. The committee’s primary goal is to assure that each course continues to meet the goals established for the category, and to provide advice on improving the effectiveness of the unit meeting those goals.
The WIC category is more complex than some others because of the specific writing metrics specified in the criteria. Further, each WIC course is intended to both use writing as a learning tool and to convey to students professional expectations in their field. The Committee sees a variety of common issues that crop up to varying degrees among WIC courses:
- The total word count for writing exercises is often not specified. We accept that an 8 page paper will satisfy the requirement assuming 250 words per page.
- It is often unclear whether, and to what degree, drafts receive thoughtful and complete critique by the instructor.
- The criteria demand that revision of a draft of the major formal writing exercise is mandatory; this is often not explicitly stated. It’s best to include due dates for drafts and revisions in the course schedule.
- Links between Baccalaureate Core Category Learning Outcomes and course activities are often vague or even not evident at all.
- Transparency on syllabi – both with how the course fits the category and how the specific activities in the course will help students achieve the Category Learning Outcomes.
- We often seek more detailed indication of assessment plans/implementation.
- We often seek more complete assessment data collection/reporting.
- For courses with multiple sections and instructors each term, there is often divergence of outcome with respect to students achieving the learning outcomes. It is best to provide intentional opportunities for all involved with the course to discuss student achievement (or lack thereof) of the Baccalaureate Core Category Learning Outcomes associated with the course.
And, of course, there are the minor mechanical issues that need regular attention on the syllabus: statement that the course fulfills the WIC requirement of the Baccalaureate Core; verbatim statement of the category student learning outcomes for the category; provision of course schedule and grading criteria as required by the University’s syllabus criteria (http://oregonstate.edu/admin/aa/apaa/syllabus-minimum-requirements) including links to policies on academic honesty (http://oregonstate.edu/business/services/academic-honesty) and a statement regarding students with disabilities.
We certainly hope that by alerting you to common issues that have regularly arisen, you can be proactive and address any problems before review. We do regularly cite exemplary review packages for courses that are fully meeting our expectations and articulating not just how the course is succeeding but also how the unit’s full cycle assessment is providing continual improvement in the course.