General education competencies at Southeastern Louisiana University are identified by analyzing student achievement in the statewide requirements mandated by the Louisiana Board of Regents
Division of Academic and Student Affairs
(Academic Affairs Policy 2.16), which are as follows:
- 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 the 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 system
As stated in Southeastern's most recent Report on the Status of General Education:
Assessing general education based on these statewide requirements allows the University to measure the effects of general education curriculum on student progress and to provide feedback on the performance of that curriculum. This affords faculty and staff the means to evaluate and improve the general education program in a systematic and effective manner.
The University assesses general education competencies through three primary mechanisms: institutional effectiveness measures that result in Southeastern's Report on the Status of General Education , external accreditation processes, and academic program review.
Southeastern's Report on the Status of General Education
Southeastern's General Education Subcommittee periodically reviews the Guidelines for General Education Assessment as stated on page 11 of the Guidelines for the Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness
. The committee gathers data from multiple sources (including student surveys, graduate surveys, proficiency exams, and core courses) in order to determine the effects of the general education curriculum on student learning. A Report on the Status of General Education
is generated by the subcommittee, which is then sent to the Provost for review and recommendations. The intent of the report is to ensure that a comprehensive review of general education takes place on a regular basis, and that student progress is analyzed, evaluated, and improved upon.
The 2002 report concluded that the University is providing students with appropriate courses in which to acquire the knowledge and skills identified by the Board of Regents and that students have a passing rate in these classes that is consistent with the passing rate of the full aggregate average. Evidence of improvement was described in several instances. For example, instituting collaborative learning in beginning math classes has encouraged students to be more active in their learning. The emphasis by instructors on conceptual learning appears to have contributed to lower withdrawal rates and improved grade distributions from fall 1997 to fall 2001. This information can be found on pages 17 and 18 of the Report on the Status of General Education.
General Education and External Accreditation
External accrediting agencies require that a general education curriculum be included in specific programs. An example of this is the Social Work program, which is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE mandates that students take classes in math, science, and liberal arts. These courses and the explanations of their relevance to general education are found in Social Work Program Core Curriculum Reported to Council on Social Work Education. Southeastern's Social Work core curriculum is also stated in the 2003-2004 General Catalogue (pages 211-213).
The Teacher Education program, accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), provides evidence that its students have attained the requisite general education competencies. In order for students to qualify for entry into the Teacher Education program, they must pass the Praxis I, which is designed to measure reading, writing, and mathematics skills. Before they begin student teaching or internship, all students must pass the Praxis II, which evaluates general and subject-specific pedagogical skills and knowledge. Details of this requirement can be found on the Praxis Information Page provided by the College of Education and Human Development. These requirements are also stated in Southeastern's General Catalogue (pages 196, 201).
Academic Program Reviews
Southeastern performs academic program reviews for those programs that do not have external accrediting agencies, as a means to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of academic programs and to assess the need for improvement. As the Guidelines for Academic Program Review state, included in the criteria for the review is a general education component: “If the department provides instruction in the General Education Core, the department demonstrates that such instruction is consistent with the University objectives and other policies governing General Education.” A part of the Academic Program Review process includes an external review team, which consists of three reviewers from other public regional universities comparable to Southeastern. (A practicing professional outside of academe with appropriate credentials may be considered.) Academic Program Reviews follow an established calendar and procedure, and are conducted under the auspices of the Provost and the dean of the appropriate college.
The Department of English completed its academic program review
in 2003. As a part of Southeastern's general education core requirements, students are required to pass an English Proficiency Exam in order to pass English 102. The English Proficiency Exam has been administered each semester since 1992, and results of these exams are used for program improvement. English 101 teachers of students who failed the exam evaluate teaching plans to better prepare students for English 102. The rate of failure on the English Proficiency Exam decreased from 12% in 1992 to 6% in 2001, as seen on page 47 of the Report on the Status of General Education