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Assessment Methods Across Academic Units


General Education

The College of Arts and Sciences core curriculum includes several skill areas in which students must complete specified hours of coursework and/or demonstrate specified levels of proficiency. The areas of written communication and quantitative reasoning and mathematical skills have been assessed each year since 1989-90 and 1990-91 respectively.

Written communication skills are assessed in the context of the University Writing Program (UWRP). Quantitative reasoning and mathematical skills are assessed in the University Mathematics Program (UMAP). In addition, many units include evaluation of writing and/or mathematical skills in their own assessments. American Studies, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences, English, EPO-Biology, Fine Arts, Film Studies, French, History, MCD-Biology, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Religious Studies, Theatre and Dance, and Women Studies are among those whose assessments explicitly evaluate their majors' writing ability. Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Economics, EPO-Biology, Mathematics, Physics and the College of Engineering are examples of programs that directly assess majors' mathematical skills. Part of the School of Education's assessment is performance on a standardized test of language use and mathematics ability.

Students in the College of Arts & Sciences must take three hours of course work at the upper-division level that requires them to practice sustained critical thinking and to demonstrate such thinking in both written form and oral discussion. Most departments have courses designed and approved as critical thinking (CT) courses which satisfy this requirement. A general assessment of critical thinking piloted in 1992-93 used the Cornell Critical Thinking Test in a sample of CT courses. In addition, since the CU-Boulder outcomes assessment program began, units such as English, History, MCD-Biology, Physics, and Women Studies have used CT courses and assessment as part of outcomes assessment for their majors.

Surveys of Seniors and Alumni

Senior survey: Since 1990, PBA (formerly SARS) has regularly asked seniors about satisfaction with their educational experiences at CU-Boulder, and about their after-graduation plans. Seniors are asked to make ratings and to write open-ended comments on several topics.
  • Cycle: Seniors were surveyed annually through 1996; an every-two-year cycle began in 1997-98. A sample of seniors (about 25%) is contacted by mail in February. Replies are encouraged through May, with a response rate over 50%. Overall results are published the following fall. By-college, by-major, and services reports have followed in the spring. PBA also offers custom analyses of survey results for units undergoing program review.

  • Survey reports characterize seniors in general, by college, and in more than 20 of the largest degree programs, all with both single-year results and longitudinal comparisons. Results are now available for seniors from 1990 through 1998. The questionnaire and collection method used in 1992 were different from those used before or after, so that year is typically excluded from longitudinal analyses.

Alumni survey: Every other year, PBA contacts about 12%, or 400 of the alumni who received bachelors degrees four years prior. The questions are similar to those in the senior survey. Response rates are just over 50%.
  • Cycle: Alumni are now contacted in spring of even-numbered years. Results are reported the following fall.

  • Survey reports compare alumni satisfaction and after-graduation activities from each administration of the survey. Results are not reported by college or major. This survey was initially conducted every year. Results are available for classes graduating in '86 (surveyed in '90), '87 (surveyed in '91), '89 (surveyed in '93), '91 (surveyed in '95), and '94 (surveyed in '98).


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Last revision 06/04/04


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