Neumann University Core Experience
History of Core Program (1997 - 2012)
On March 11, 1996, the Core Curriculum Committee of Faculty Senate approved a revised core curriculum. A Core Curriculum Outcomes Advisory Team was appointed in 1997 to promote understanding of the core curriculum which was implemented in the 1997-1998 academic year. Each year a Core Curriculum Task Force/Committee provided support for matters related to core curriculum content, outcomes, and assessment. Assessment activities were connected with the core learning outcomes.
From 1997 to 2005, the Core Task Force offered workshops which focused on a variety of topics, including:
• various assessment strategies, including the use of rubrics
• integration of Franciscan values, understanding the liberal arts, and communication and critical thinking skills
• components of the writing program and the use of technology
• changing culture of the college during the transition from a commuter to residential institution
• Bloom’s taxonomy of learning
• characteristics of the Neumann student
• preferred learning styles of Neumann students
• Core Curriculum Program Self Study and recommendations.
The Core Task Force also introduced several indirect measures to assess student achievement of Core Goals and Learning Outcomes, including:
• surveys regarding instructional strategies and assessment methods used by faculty
• surveys related to faculty and student perceptions of extent to which each Core course contributed to the achievement of Core learning outcomes
• student and faculty focus groups to determine perceptions related to how Core courses helped students achieve Core learning outcomes
• faculty focus groups to determine perceptions of how the Core program prepared students for success in the major programs
• analysis of student responses to NSSE survey in areas related to Core learning outcomes.
In addition, the Core Task Force shared with faculty results of direct measures of student achievement of Core learning outcomes used by faculty in specific Core courses, including:
• Proficiency essays used in English 101
• Portfolio assessment of writing introduced in 2004-2005
• Rubrics used in CA 206 (Effective Public Speaking)
During the 2004-2005 academic year there was a program review of the core curriculum. This review identified major strengths and weaknesses of the core program. Recommendations related to assessment of the core program included:
• Review and revise core goals and learning outcomes to ensure clarity
• Ensure consistency across all sections of same-numbered core courses
• Develop appropriate quantitative and qualitative direct measures of student learning outcomes
• Establish clear benchmarks for assessing core learning outcomes
• Develop a systematic plan for assessing the core as a whole, rather than individual courses within the core
• Ensure assessment of core learning outcomes in all undergraduate programs, day and evening division
• Develop an organized plan for professional development of faculty.
The program review also included a recommendation to identify the structure which would most efficiently and effectively support the core program. The Middle States Self-Study and subsequent visitation occurred the year following the core program review. Middle States recommendations related to the Core program included:
• Infusion of the Catholic Franciscan intellectual tradition throughout the Core curriculum and all academic programs;
• Coordination and communication of a comprehensive, integrated institutional assessment plan; and
• Establishment of targets for full-time faculty coverage in the Core.
In spring 2006 the Task Force appointed to monitor the core program was dissolved in anticipation of the appointment of a Director of Core and the reorganization of the Core Curriculum Task Force. In academic year 2007-2008, a part-time Director of Core was appointed with a focus on assisting adjunct faculty members, promoting consistency among faculty teaching same-numbered courses, and supporting assessment efforts of faculty workgroups. Faculty who taught required core courses worked within their respective workgroups in Arts and Sciences and within the Pastoral and Theological Studies division to develop common syllabi and common assessment protocols. Faculty used the results of their assessment practices to improve student achievement. In November 2009 an Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs (AVPAA) was appointed with primary responsibility for assessment of all academic programs, including the core.
In 2009 a Core Curriculum Task Force with representatives from every academic division was appointed to review the core program and recommend revisions. The revised core program was implemented in Fall 2012; the Core Experience Committee now assumes responsibility for all matters related to the implementation and assessment of the revised core, known as the Neumann University Core Experience.