Assessment of General Education Student Learning Outcomes

The general-education-program assessment follows guidelines and standards that are consistent with SUNY Student Learning Outcomes as defined by the SUNY Board of Trustees. Assessment efforts at SUNY Plattsburgh are coordinated by the provost’s office in conjunction with the general education committee of the faculty senate. This committee is responsible for leadership in developing the General Education curriculum and, for implementing policies, monitoring the administration of the General Education curriculum, periodically assessing the general education program, and recommending policies on General Education. The results from both General Education assessment and assessment of the major are used to enhance program quality and student learning. Each year the college assesses four to five categories of our general education program by evaluating samples of student performance using a rubric system to determine how well students who have met the requirement by taking general education courses have also achieved the SUNY student learning outcomes in each category. The question that guides this project is “Are our students achieving the level of knowledge that we want them to achieve in general education courses?” An assessment report of general education student learning outcomes is prepared each year by Dr. Steve Light, the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs who coordinates the General Education assessment program. The calendar of general education assessment is presented below:

Calendar of General Education Assessment

2013-14 (in progress):

  • The Arts
  • Critical Thinking
  • Humanities
  • World Systems

2012-13 (in progress):

  • Natural Science
  • Social Science
  • Oral Expression
  • American History/U.S. Civilization
  • Written Expression

Meetings were held in fall 2012 with faculty design groups for each of the above categories, and the assessment instruments were edited and updated. The instruments were administered to students in the spring 2013 semester. The final report will be shared with the faculty by Spring 2014.

2011-2012 (completed):

  • Foreign Language
  • Information and Technology Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Western Civilization

Summary reports of these results have been distributed to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, the General Education Committee, and Dr. Bob Davis (SUNY Plattsburgh Assessment Coordinator). They are available from Steve Light in the provost’s office.

Method of Assessment

At the beginning of the semester in which the assessment will take place, a group of faculty meets to design the assessment questionnaire. In most categories, assessment instruments are administered in a random sample of courses approved for the 4GLO Global Issues category of General Education. In two categories (foreign language, mathematics) the assessment instrument is embedded in final exams for FL and MAT courses in that category. Desired sample size = 120 completed student questionnaires. Names are hidden on the survey instruments and copies are made using a code number for confidential identification of the respondent. Faculty who teach courses in that category score the exams. Two faculty independently score each exam. If their scores vary by more than two scores (out of 4) then a third faculty scorer reads the items and assigns a reconcile score which is averaged with the other two scores. Data are analyzed and a summary report is created for each category.

Closing the Loop

Summary reports in each category are distributed to the provost’s office, the general education committee and to the faculty in departments that teach courses in the category being assessed. Meetings may be held between the provost, deans, and department faculty to discuss ways of improving the level of student achievement in general education courses. Faculty open meetings may also be held for the same purpose.

Contact Information

To recommend additional materials or to ask questions about Assessment Programs at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact

Bob Davis, Ph.D.
Office: Beaumont Hall 316
Phone: (518) 564-7702
Email: robert.davis@plattsburgh.edu