Improving Student Learning in the Core

The University is continuously striving to improve student learning. As such, USD has an ongoing program of evaluating our students’ abilities to meet the learning outcomes of our core curriculum.

Why do we evaluate student learning?

There are several reasons why we evaluate student learning:

  • Live our Commitment to USD’s Mission of Academic Excellence and Ethical Conduct.
    The learning outcomes within each core area describes the skills, abilities, and/or habits of mind that students should possess after completing a given core requirement. To uphold the University’s mission of academic excellence and commitment to ethical conduct we want to know that our students are actually able to successfully demonstrate the learning outcomes, and if we find areas where they are not, to work towards making changes so that our students as a whole are able to do what we say they can do.

  • Initiate Conversations Among Faculty Regarding Student Learning.
    USD faculty are dedicated to excellence in teaching and welcome innovative and new approaches to pedagogy. Data collected on student learning helps faculty to see areas where they might focus new and improved pedagogies to enhance student success. The interdisciplinarity of the faculty teams that score the student work for these projects allows a platform for some deep conversations about learning to take place. The results of the projects are presented to the faculty-based Core Curriculum Committee, where further discussions take place. The final report is shared with all USD undergraduate faculty, thus providing an entry to conversations among the faculty at large. 
I think this will help me clarify how we are conveying expectations to students.  I will use this experience as I construct my own rubrics and discuss them with my peers.” – Oral Communication Faculty Scorer

I will pay more attention to writing prompts, especially in relation to outlining what a successful paper will include.” – First-Year Writing Faculty Scorer
  • Provide Data for Evidence-Based Changes.
    The aim of this process is to better understand how our students are performing so that we can identify areas of strength and weakness, with the latter being addressed through faculty development, resources for students, enhanced pedagogy, and/or refinements to the curriculum in order to better serve our students.
The main thing I'm going to use this [scoring experience] for will be clarification in the assignment prompt that I give them.  I think it's important to emphasize genre conventions and the different strategies in which different genres engage.” – First-Year Writing Faculty Scorer
This experience has given me a lot to think about. I continue to think about ways to require oral presentations in my classes and ways that I can incorporate actually teaching good presentation skills.” – Oral Communication Faculty Scorer
  • Compile Data for Accrediting Bodies.
    The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is the Commission responsible for accrediting the University. USD is in the process of its Reaffirmation of Accreditation with WASC Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC), which will be completed in Fall 2021. In addition, several undergraduate programs are accredited by various organizations, and may use some of the core assessment data for their accreditation processes.

How often do we evaluate student work?

Each area of the core curriculum is assessed on a cycle.

 Tentative General Assessment Timetable by Core Area