The Assessment Plan establishes the institution-wide learning goals upon which the outcomes for graduates are based. Goal 2 speaks directly to the faculty expectation of graduates for the habits of mind expected of a college graduate: “ Students will develop and apply various general education competencies through the study of the discipline.” Although each competency has relevance to developing students as life-long learners, two in particular address the preparation for life in a global and fast-changing technical society:
The objectives related to technology ask that students be able to “demonstrate general computer literacy” and to “demonstrate the selection and use of appropriate technologies for the specific discipline.” Sauk has provided extensive access to technology-supported learning: 38 of 44 (86%) lecture rooms are technology-enhanced; three computer labs (averaging 20 computers each) and ten classrooms with a total of 375 computers are available for student use. This support enables the wide use of technology in teaching and a curricular imperative for computer skills: A.A.S. degrees require a computer course; all composition classes are taught in computer labs; and about 150 courses per semester use course management software for on-campus sections.
The computer literacy objective was the subject of an institution-wide assessment project in fall 2009, which sought to determine the skill level of the incoming student population for basic file management and in Microsoft Word™. A computer skill exercise was voluntarily administered by faculty in classes taught in computer classrooms. The results indicated that of 799 students sampled, 16% of students could not perform the set of tasks at the expected level; of the 169 developmental students in the sample, 40% failed the assessment. The results were presented to the full-time faculty at a Faculty Forum, with several results:
The faculty has chosen to value problem-solving as a competency which expresses critical thinking skills in a practical application. The competency stems from the faculty’s efforts to reflect career as well as transfer degree priorities as it developed the competencies. Faculty professional development related to this competency is sometimes directed toward critical thinking. The Problem Solving objectives expect that students will be able to “Identify problems and the desired outcomes”; “Recognize and evaluate available resources”; and “Adapt, organize, and implement solutions or plans of action.” Students, particularly those in career programs at Sauk, demonstrate mastery of independent problem-solving skills in a variety of ways:
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