Texas A&M University System Student Learning Outcome–Critical Thinking
The Texas A&M University System delivers a common set/embraces a common view of important outcomes and is accountable for sustained measurement.
For all TAMU System universities, the rationale for assessing student learning outcomes (SLOs) originates primarily from efforts to maintain institutional effectiveness, which is defined as a process of identifying outcomes, assessing the extent to which they are achieved, and providing evidence of improvement based on their analysis.
Upon completion of their degree program, students will be able to demonstrate critical thinking, including the ability to explain issues; find, analyze, and select appropriate evidence; and construct a cogent argument that articulates conclusions and their consequences. Students will be able to utilize, qualitative and quantitative reasoning as a base for problem solving.
All criteria met and results exceed expectations with little room for improvement.
Most criteria met and results indicate mastery of objective with some room for improvement.
Acceptable number of criteria met and results meet expectations with room for improvement.
Some criteria met and results indicate need for improvement.
Few criteria met; results indicate need for significant improvement or no/insufficient results reported to measure performance of objective.
VALUE - American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education Ratings on the Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Rubrics
ETS - Educational Testing Service - Proficiency Profile Critical Thinking subscale scores
NSSE - National Survey of Student Engagement responses to questions on “Experiences contributing to analyzing numerical and statistical information” and “Experiences contributing to skills and solving complex real-world problems”
IDEA - Individual Development and Educational Assessment ratings on question 9 “Learning how to find and use resources for answering questions or solving problems” and question 11 “Learning to analyze and critically evaluate ideas, arguments, and points of view”.
A&M-Central Texas’ students demonstrated sufficiency on the critical thinking learning outcomes in Fall 2016, identical to the assessed level in Spring 2013. The university used the VALUE rubrics to directly assess students. IDEA and NSSE indirect assessments validated these results.
Students assessed in Summer and Fall 2016 using the Critical Thinking and Problem Solving VALUE rubrics demonstrated sufficiency on both rubrics. Students (n=56) scored a mean rating of 2.2 on a scale of 0 to 4 on the Critical Thinking rubric. Students (n=56) scored a mean rating of 2.1 on a scale of 0 to 4 on the Problem Solving rubric. Faculty not assigned to teach the sections applied the VALUE rubrics to individual senior class assignments. The mean ratings of above 2.0 suggest a rating of sufficient.
Students assessed in Spring 2013 using the ETS Proficiency Profile direct assessment measure demonstrated sufficiency with critical thinking. Students (n=148) scored a mean of 109.8 on the critical thinking component compared to the national average of 110. These results were within 0.2 percentage points of the national norms, suggesting a rating of sufficient.
Indirect NSSE assessments of seniors in Spring 2013 indicated students perceived themselves emerging in problem solving. When asked how much their experiences at this institution contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in analyzing numerical and statistical information, 61 percent (103 out of 169) of students responded “quite a bit” or “very much” at a rate 2 percentage points below students at other southwest public universities (n=2,992) and 3 percentage points below all students assessed (n=3,166). A response rate above 60 percent is considered emerging. When asked how much their experiences at this institution contributed to their knowledge, skills, and personal development in solving complex real-world problems, 59 percent (102 out of 172) of students responded “quite a bit” or “very much” at a rate 3 percentage points below students at other southwest public universities (n=2,992) and 3 percentage points below all students assessed (n=3,164). A response rate below 60 percent is considered insufficient.
Indirect IDEA assessments of faculty by students between Fall 2012 and Summer 2016 indicated indicate students perceived themselves as proficient in critical thinking and problem solving. Between 3,500 and 8,500 students responded each year to IDEA question 11 (learning to analyze and critically evaluate ideas, arguments, and points of view) indicating they perceived substantial or exceptional progress at rates of 2013 – 79.2 percent (n=4,977), 2014 – 79.6 percent (n=3,570), 2015 – 81.7 percent (n=8,000), and 2016 – 81.6 percent (n-8,482). Between 3,500 and 8,500 students responded each year to IDEA question 9 (learning how to find and use resources for answering questions or solving problems) indicating they perceived substantial or exceptional progress at rates of 2013 – 78.7 percent (n=4,988), 2014 – 79.4 percent (n=3,572), 2015 – 81.7 percent (n=8,008), and 2016 – 82.6 percent (n=8,486). Percentages above 80 percent indicate proficiency.
A&M-Central Texas established a course inventory for general education requirements in alignment with the State’s core objectives for Fall 2016. With our more defined core curriculum course expectations, our programs can proceed with identifying how these core student learning outcomes are practiced in program upper-level courses. This integration is anticipated to enable enhanced assessment of the core student learning outcomes; to include critical thinking.
A&M-Central Texas continues to grow its array of assessments. We based our assessment of this outcome solely on the ETS Proficiency Profile in 2013. We added three additional measures in assessing our students in 2016.