WASC Reaccreditation

Learning Outcomes Assessment

Thoughtful reflection on the quality of teaching and learning - also known as assessment of student learning – is central to WASC's expectations of all accredited institutions. At UCR assessment of student learning primarily occurs within academic departments and degree granting programs. Assessment of student learning largely centers on student learning outcomes that individual department set for their students in terms that make sense for that discipline. The 2013 WASC handbook of accreditation also includes five core competencies, broad skills central to higher education, in which all students will be expected to demonstrate some level of mastery.

These efforts are supported by the Office of Evaluation and Assessment.

Student Learning Outcomes

Student learning outcomes are relatively specific expectations for the knowledge, skills and orientations students should gain over the course of a particular class, a program of study or in earning a given degree. Assessing student learning at the departmental level is the focus of assessment activities for WASC.

All departments and degree granting programs, at both the graduate and undergraduate level, currently have student learning outcomes. (Those for undergraduate programs are archived online.)

WASC Core Competencies

The most significant change in WASC 2013 Handbook with regards to the assessment of student learning is the introduction of five core competencies. These core competencies are intended to reflect the broader vision of a comprehensive liberal arts education, and are similar to recent initiatives by AAU&C and others.

WASC's core competencies are:

  • Critical Thinking: “the ability to think in a way that is clear, reasoned, reflective, informed by evidence, and aimed at deciding what to believe or do” (p 47).
  • Information Literacy: “the ability to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use the needed information for a wide range of purposes” (p 51).
  • Oral Communication: “communication by means of spoken language for informational, persuasive, and expressive purposes. In addition to speech, oral communication may employ visual aids, body language, intonation, and other non-verbal elements to support the conveyance of meaning and connection with the audience” (p 53).
  • Written Communication: “communication by means of written language for informational, persuasive, and expressive purposes. Written communication may appear in many forms or genres. Successful written communication depends on mastery of the conventions of the written language, facility with culturally accepted structures for presentation and argument, awareness of audience, and other situation-specific factors” (p 58).
  • Quantitative Reasoning: “the ability to apply mathematical concepts to the interpretation and analysis of quantitative information in order to solve a wide range of problems, from those arising in pure and applied research to everyday issues and questions. It may include such dimension as the ability to apply math skills, judge reasonableness, communicate quantitative information, and recognize the limits of mathematical or statistical methods” (p 55).

The Office of Evaluation and Assessment

The Office of Evaluation and Assessment is dedicated to supporting individual faculty who want to formally assesses student learning in their own courses as well as supporting departments as they develop formal assessment plans linked to WASC expectations.

Assessment resources are available at the Office of Evaluation and Assessment's website. Staff are available to UCR faculty for consultation on assessment related matters.

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