Core Education Assessment Plan

The UO Senate Core Education Council is charged with convening an “ongoing campus dialogue about the purpose, value, assessment and improvement of core education.” Additionally, the Core Education Council establishes and revises “policies and processes to ensure an effective, regular and comprehensive system of assessment of student learning outcomes in core education.”  

The Purpose of Assessment: 

The purpose of core education assessment at UO is to routinely interrogate whether the breadth of courses all UO students take as part of their general requirements add up to what we intend for students. The goal of assessment is finding areas for meaningful improvement, taking action to make change, and tracking the efficacy of our improvement efforts.  

Historical Context 

Between 2015-2017, UO participated in our regional accreditor, NWCCU’s demonstration project about general education assessment. We argued that assessment efforts ought to result in meaningful action toward improvement. However, for many institutions, linking assessment with action has proven difficult. Thus, we concluded that assessment projects at UO should be led by the following values:  

  • The best assessment processes are those that drive meaningful conversations among faculty about how to improve programs and curriculum. Seeking and analyzing data can be an important component of those processes.  

  • Assessment is most valuable when closely aligned with existing practices, and embedded in teaching and learning.  

Therefore, assessment of UO Core Education should consider multiple indicators of student learning and experience, support meaningful faculty collaboration to improve the core education curriculum, and target issues of particular importance to our faculty.   


Core Education Assessment 

Core education is assessed at multiple levels including the alignment of Core education courses to UO’s new learning objectives, tracking of institutional metrics related to core education fulfillment, and targeted investigations into student learning in specific domains of core education. Our targeted approach will directly link results of these investigations of student learning to teaching and curricular development. This is facilitated by UO situating the Director of Research and Assessment position within a praxis-oriented Teaching Engagement Program that works directly with instructors. 


Targeted projects to align and improve Core Education Curriculum 

The major component of our approach to core education assessment is targeting our efforts on multi-year, targeted projects to improve and assess domains of core education. These projects will include multiple forms of assessment data, support faculty to collaborate on key areas of curriculum improvement, and allow us to focus on issues of particular importance to faculty. This approach focuses on bringing faculty groups together to drive meaningful conversations about improving UO’s curriculum, building on existing strengths, and finding areas for improvement. For each core education domain, the Teaching Engagement Program will initiate and support a project to assess and to make targeted improvements. Assessment projects will rotate through each domain of core education on the following schedule:  

  2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24 2024-25 2025-26 2026-27
Written Communication X X          
Critical Thinking     X X      
Ethical Reflection         X X  
Creative Thinking           X X
Cultural Literacy - US Difference, Inequality & Agency   X X        
Cultural Literacy - Global Perspectives       X X    

Core Education Summits

Each targeted project will culminate in programming to share what we have learned with the teaching community. These events will help develop a shared vision of best pedagogical practices for teaching core education objectives. Summits will include opportunities to learn about assessment, relevant data, actions taken as a result of these targeted projects, and teaching resources related to each domain – as well as opportunities to share best practices for teaching each core education objectives in different contexts.  

Aligning our curriculum with new core education learning objectives 

After the Senate’s 2018 revision of core education, existing core education courses are being re-approved by UOCC (University Committee on Courses). Instructors submitting courses for reapproval must identify the core education objectives they teach, demonstrate how the course is designed to fulfill those objectives by completing a “backward design” chart. In this way, UO engages instructors in a process of reflection and communication about how the course design and their concrete teaching practices make the new objectives concrete for students.  

The CEC will continue to monitor the progress of core education course re-approval, find opportunities to support instructors seeking course re-approval, and ensure appropriate coverage of methods of inquiry and course requirements.  

Institutional measures related to core education 

  • An annual report (to CEC and published online for all faculty) on the number of Core Education courses, how they are dispersed across departments, enrollments, and student success outcomes. 
  • A semi-annual report (to CEC and published online for all faculty) on indicators from campus-wide surveys (e.g. NSSE and SERU) about student learning and experience related to Core Education  

Closing the ‘loop’ 

The core of our approach to core education assessment is targeted projects within a single domain of core education. These projects are aimed at supporting instructors to reflect on their programs, collect assessment data, and make improvements in their programs. Because many U.S colleges and universities report challenges acting on assessment data, UO has formally situated the connection between research and practice within its Teaching Engagement Program, which hosts programming and resources to support the teaching of core education including. Insights from core ed assessment projects are infused into these programs and resources.