Student Learning Outcomes

Grambling State University’s assessment of general education learning outcomes has evolved over time. This narrative examines the assessment of the general education learning outcomes that were in place prior to the fall 2008 semester and then focuses on the general education program that was implemented during the fall 2008 semester.

General Education Learning Outcomes (Prior to Fall 2008)

Grambling State University’s general education program supports the policy established by the Louisiana Board of Regents. This policy ensures that graduates of undergraduate degree programs have a broad-based common educational experience. Eleven student learning outcomes/competencies were identified and were adopted by Grambling State University:

  • to communicate effectively in oral and written English
  • to read with comprehension
  • to reason abstractly and think critically
  • to understand numerical data and statistics
  • to understand the scientific method
  • to be familiar with key technological and informational applications
  • to learn independently
  • to recognize and appreciate cultural diversity
  • to understand the nature and value of the fine and performing arts
  • to develop a personal value system while retaining a tolerance for others
  • to understand the American political and economic system.

Grambling State University identified specific courses that students were required to complete as a part of the general education program. These courses were aligned with the general education learning outcomes:

ENG 101, ENG 102
MATH 131, MATH 132 (or higher mathematics)
CS 107, BIOL 103, 104
CHEM 101 or SCI 101
ART 105, or ART 210, or MUS 219
HIST 201, ST 208, or ST 212, HUM elective
ECON 201, SOC SCI elective

In assessing the degree to which graduates were meeting the general education outcomes, content faculty reviewed student performance in general education courses, and these data were monitored by department heads and deans. The analysis results were used to make changes that support learning outcomes being achieved.

Assessment & Use of Results

Example from Mathematics

During the 2004-05 academic year, Mathematics faculty reviewed the performance, over a five year period (1999-2004), of students in mathematics courses and their ability to use mathematical skills. On average, 2,700 students enrolled in mathematics classes in an academic year. Over this period, the percentage of students withdrawing from math classes was high, with more than 40% of students withdrawing from Pre-Calculus and Calculus I courses during the 2003-04 academic year. The average five-year failure/drop rate for students enrolled in Pre- Calculus I was 60%. The five-year average failure/drop rate for Calculus I, Calculus II, and Calculus III was 58%, 65%, and 68%, respectively. The failure/drop rate for college algebra (MATH 131) during this period was 67%.

The mathematics faculty, in conjunction with other STEM faculty, identified three factors that were believed to be contributing to the low performance of students in introductory math courses:

  • The placement criteria used for enrolling entering students in mathematics courses.
  • The number of hours the classes meet per week.
  • The student’s inability to see the relevance of many of the topics covered in mathematics.

STEM faculty wrote a proposal that focused on addressing these three factors and submitted it to the National Science Foundation for funding. This project was funded in 2005 for $2.5 million and resulted in the establishment of the Center for Mathematical Achievement in Science & Technology (CMAST). The Center had a goal of reforming introductory mathematics courses and, ultimately, student success. This reformation included the implementation of a mathematics driven pre-freshmen academy summer enrichment program, the addition of a one-hour problem session to introductory mathematics courses, a change in pedagogy, and an effort to do a better job in placing students in introductory mathematics courses. The success of the CMAST program in reforming introductory mathematics courses is assessed each academic year. These changes resulted in increased student success in mathematics courses, as shown in the following table.

Reform of Introductory Mathematics Courses.

Example from English

A review of the writing skills of students in introductory English courses conducted by English faculty during the 2005-2006 academic year resulted in the English faculty increasing the number of writing assignments in freshmen composition courses. To facilitate the increase in writing assignments, the maximum class enrollment size was targeted for 25 students, a reduction from an average of 34 students per section. This reduction in class size resulted in the writing assignments that students were required to complete increasing on average by one for most English faculty teaching introductory courses. A review of student performance in freshmen composition courses shows the percent of students demonstrating that they had met 60% of the competencies identified for the course increased from 68% during fall 2006 to s74% in fall 2007.  These competencies included the ability to apply the rules of grammar effectively to sentence structure, punctuation, and mechanics in the preparation of a written composition.

General Education discipline-specific faculty at the department level had the responsibility of reviewing student performance in general education courses annually. The faculty used assessment results to make changes to a course in an effort to increase success of students in meeting the identified learning outcomes. These changes included modifying teaching pedagogy and increasing student support services. A review of the performance of students enrolled in general education courses for two academic years (2006-07 and 2007-08) shows that on average more than seventy percent of the students demonstrated that they had met course competencies.

Percentage of Students Who Demonstrated They Met At Least 60% of Course Competencies
General Education Course Fall 06 Spring 07 Summer I 07 Summer II 07 Fall 07 Spring 08 Summer I 08 Summer II 08 Average
ART 105 85 86 100 N/O 86 83 100 85 89.29
ART 210 88 91 N/O N/O 85 89 N/O N/O 88.25
MUS 219 79 91 N/O 100 84 85 N/O 100 89.83
BIOL 103 80 60 93 86 85 95 100 N/O 85.57
BIOL 104 N/O 83 88 88 83 74 88 88 84.57
CHEM 101 92 96 100 84 88 93 100 84 92.13
CS 107 85 77 N/O 75 78 89 N/O 76 80.00
ECON 201 94 92 100 93 88 90 97 98 94
ENG 101 68 57 77 93 74 63 91 98 77.63
ENG 102 67 68 93 93 59 72 91 75 77.25
HIST 201 81 74 86 77 75 78 100 95 83.25
MATH 131 59 61 94 82 59 49 93 66 70.38
MATH 132 76 62 88 77 61 64 100 100 78.50
SCI 101 81 86 96 N/O 72 69 100 100 86.29
ST 212 80 73 96 95 73 69 100 87 84.13

N/O = Course not offered

Grambling State University continues to require students who have completed 45 semester hours of credit to take the Rising Junior Examination (RJE). A passing score on the exam is a requirement for completion of the baccalaureate degree. The exam administered is an ETS product. Until the 2006-07 academic year, this exam was the Academic Profile test. ETS discontinued the Academic Profile exam, and in 2006 the University implemented the Measure of Academic Progress and Proficiency exam (MAPP) that is the ETS replacement product. Both exams focus on evaluating reading, writing, mathematics, and critical thinking skills. The data provided support the following general education learning outcomes:

  • to communicate effectively in oral and written English
  • to read with comprehension
  • to reason abstractly and think critically
  • to understand numerical data and statistics.

The percent of sophomores receiving a proficiency rating on the RJE declined to 38.38% during 2006-07 (see Table In response to the decline in students passing the exam, a task force was convened to review the general education program. Additional measures taken included the establishment of tutorials and workshops in mathematics and English.

Rising Junior Examination Results
Academic Year Percent of Sophomores Taking the
Exam that Passed It
2002-03 59.30*
2003-04 52.64*
2004-05 63.73*
2005-06 64.52*
2006-07** 38.38
2007-08** 41.24
2008-09** 28.32

*Scores include results of student retakes
** University implemented MAPP testing instrument that ETS produced to replace Academic Profile

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