General Education Assessment

All public universities in South Dakota adhere to a common set of General Education Goals and Outcomes that describe the skills and knowledge students attain by virtue of completing the General Education program (see https://www.sdbor.edu/policy/documents/2-7.pdf ).  The Goals are as follows:

  • GOAL #1: Students will write effectively and responsibly and will understand and interpret the written expression of others.
  • GOAL #2: Students will communicate effectively and responsibly through listening and speaking.
  • GOAL #3: Students will understand the organization, potential, and diversity of the human community through study of the social sciences.
  • GOAL #4: Students will understand the diversity and complexity of the human experience through study of the arts and humanities.
  • GOAL #5: Students will understand and apply fundamental mathematical processes and reasoning.
  • GOAL #6: Students will understand the fundamental principles of the natural sciences and apply scientific methods of inquiry to investigate the natural world. 

From the mid-1990s to 2017, all “rising juniors” (i.e., students on the verge of entering their junior year) took the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP) exam.  This is a nationally normed standardized test of essential skills.  Students were required to pass all sections (i.e., math, writing, science reasoning, and reading) of the exam (based on ‘cut scores’ set for the SD system) in order to remain enrolled.  

Testing students on General Education skills and knowledge midway through their undergraduate program was the South Dakota Board of Regent’s means of ensuring that all graduates had acquired the skills and knowledge of a generally educated person who earned a bachelor’s degree.

  • Historical data on how School of Mines students fared on the CAAP exam.
  • Historical data on assessments of the learning described in Goals one, two, three, and four.

Over time, the CAAP proved over time to be a sub-optimum tool for providing faculty members with the data and information needed to continuously improve their classes.

In 2016-2017, faculty from across all schools in the Board of Regent’s system collaborated to design an “artifact-based” assessment framework for the learning outcomes of the six Goals listed above.  “Artifacts,” or samples of student work are collected from general education classes and assessed by a team of faculty members representing all state universities.  The faculty teams work with evaluation rubrics created and used in common by all state universities.

Goals 1 and 5 will be assessed during Academic Year 2017-2018.