Can Three First-Year Courses Work Toward Shared Goals?
To gauge the degree to which each pilot course was able to emphasize each foundational goal, the First-Year Writing Working Group decided to collect three forms of data over the semester:

  • With the help of John Ryan and the Office of Institutional Studies, beginning- and end-of-semester student surveys (PDF icon Appendix C [PDF]) on their sense of preparation for and improvement in each of the four foundational areas;
  • Compiled by the four pilot faculty for TAP plus one faculty member and one GTA from HCOL 85 and ENGS 1 respectively, instructor portfolios with all course assignments, selected student work, and end-of-semester reflection on successes and challenges in implementing the foundational goals;
  • With the help of the Writing in the Disciplines Program staff and research assistants, complete and redacted student writing collections from three to four students on the course roster, selected by their (fifth, tenth, fifteenth …) place on the roster.

While future assessments can take up more ambitious questions about the quality of, improvement in, and portability of student work and can also draw conclusions from more student writing collections per class, the assessment of this pilot was limited

  • by time: a one-day winter-break retreat of 17 faculty to comb through and reflect on the collected materials, with three faculty meeting a second time to follow up on questions generated in the assessment retreat, and
  • by scope: to the questions of whether the student surveys, instructor experience, and writing collections suggest it is possible for TAP, ENGS 1, and HCOL 85, to work toward foundational writing and information literacy goals, and with what challenges and further needs or goal refinements that should be addressed.

Below are links to brief summaries and snapshots from the three assessment vantage points—student surveys, instructor reflections, and writing collection ratings—followed by the overall assessment of the First-Year Writing Working Group.