Assessment of 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.
  • Initiate Conversations Among Faculty Regarding Student Learning.
  • Provide Data for Evidence-Based Changes.
  • Compile Data for Accrediting Bodies.

How often do we evaluate student work?

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

Core Assessment Timeline Graph - SUM21

 Current and Completed Projects

Table Listing Core Assessment Projects
Term Area Project
Fall 2017 Competencies Critical Thinking/Information Literacy (CTIL)
Spring 2018 Competencies Oral Communication (CORL)
Fall 2018 Competencies First-Year Writing (CFYW)
Spring 2019 Competencies The New Future for Critical Thinking/Information Literacy (CTIL)
Fall 2019 Integration First-Year Integration (CINL)
Spring 2020 Competencies Quantitative Reasoning (CQUR)

What is the process for evaluating student work?

Student work is evaluated in aggregate in order to capture a representative data set of student abilities to meet each of the learning outcomes in that area of the Core. The process is initiated and coordinated by the Core Assessment Team, who reports the data to the Core Curriculum Committee and ultimately disseminates the final findings to the greater USD community. The actual scoring of student work, construction or revision of rubrics, and resulting suggestions for improving student success, is all faculty driven.  

A typical assessment process occurs as follows:

Process of Evaluating Student Work

The norming session made me more aware of emphasizing to students audience awareness, use of evidence vs. organizational strategies, etc.” – First-Year Writing Faculty Scorer

 In designing a given assessment project, the aim of the Core Assessment Team is to:

  • Involve faculty in as much of the planning and decision-making as possible;
  • Base assessments on actual student work that is included in part of a normal course (i.e., not externally created standardized tests);
  • Balance maximizing faculty independence- with regard to assignment design and minimizing impact to faculty teaching the course- with collecting valid and reliable data;
  • Select student work that occurs sufficiently late in the semester after students have already received related feedback on earlier work;
  • Assemble the faculty scoring team from a diverse group of tenure-line and adjunct faculty across a range of disciplines;
  • Train and calibrate faculty scorers to the rubric, to help ensure the validity and reliability of our results.
I have already referred to the rubric and taken specific language from it when revising a rubric for a course I'm teaching this semester.  I found this to be a very useful experience for me as a teacher and will definitely use what I've learned to improve assessment in my courses and department.” – First-Year Writing Faculty Scorer 

This has helped me design assignments for my own FYW150 courses and writing assignments in Core Curriculum literature courses. Very valuable to be a part of this! I most enjoyed reading other people's prompts and supplementary materials, and learning others' perspectives on evaluation. So glad I got to be a part of this!” – First-Year Writing Faculty Scorer