Assessment general education core curriculum student learning outcomes


The foci of this qualitative study were twofold. First, the researcher wanted to know what instruments and methods of data collection are being used to assess core general education intended student-learning outcomes at 62 urban and metropolitan universities (members of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities). Second, the researcher was interested in knowing the extent to which these approaches to measurement are producing data that can be used for improvement purposes. A review of the literature revealed that only 15% of institutions that indicated in a previous study that they were initiating change in the curriculum of general education programs were assessing student outcomes. Essentially, these institutions were depriving themselves of valuable data and information that might have made their organizational changes more meaningful. The present qualitative study, using a researcher-developed instrument, surveyed 62 universities as how they were assessing their general education programs. The grounded theory model of Strauss and Corbin was used to analyze the data. The study indicated that 23 of the 27 institutions that responded to the survey were conducting assessment of the core curriculum. They were using direct and indirect approaches to measurement of knowledge, skills, behaviors, and beliefs and values. The 27 institutions fell within five stages of assessment. Sixteen of the 19 institutions that were conducting assessment reported that they were having some success in identifying weaknesses in the pedagogy, the curriculum, and the assessment process. They reported changes such as adopting new pedagogical strategies, revising and adding courses, opening a new writing and mathematical center, having an increased awareness regarding the value of assessment, and generating heightened involvement among faculty members in the assessment process. Sixteen institutions reported that assessment methods such as standardized tests, essays, portfolios, and the senior assignment made it possible to identify weaknesses and make changes in their core curricula. Eleven institutions reported that they did not have any changes to report as a result of conducting assessment. Four of the eleven were in the early stages of assessment, three were in the planning stages, and one had not begun a formal assessment process. The grounded theory analysis led to this conclusion: If the leadership of institutions of higher learning realize the stage of assessment that they are in, they will be better positioned to respond to assessment training needs, assessment resource needs, stakeholders' expectations, and accrediting bodies' mandates.


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Graduation Date





Tubbs, LeVester


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education


Educational Research, Technology, and Leadership

Degree Program

Educational Research, Technology, and Leadership








Release Date

January 2009

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education; Education -- Dissertations, Academic

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Education Commons