Assessing Student Learning in CAPS Courses: 2015 CAPS Course Assessment Report Pilot (UCORE)

How are students doing on WSU’s Undergraduate Learning Goals? Are UCORE Capstone (CAPS) courses providing students an opportunity to integrate and apply what they have learned throughout the curriculum, bringing closure to their undergraduate experience? To answer these and other questions, the UCORE Committee piloted the UCORE CAPS Course assessment report to gauge student learning at the near-graduation level.

Established as part of WSU’s general education curriculum (UCORE) beginning in 2012, UCORE CAPS courses must be at the 400-level and require students to demonstrate at least four of the seven university learning goals: Critical & Creative Thinking, Communication, Information Literacy, and Depth, Breadth & Integration of Learning. “As the culminating academic experience, CAPS courses provide the opportunity to assess student achievement near the end of their studies,” explains Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Mary Wack. “In addition, since many of the UCORE CAPS courses are designed for particular majors, these senior projects offer rich opportunities for useful assessment for both general education and undergraduate degrees.” 

UCORE CAPS course instructors completed a pilot UCORE CAPS Course Assessment Report for spring 2015 and fall 2015. A total of 79 reports were submitted, which represented 2,877 undergraduate students. CAPS instructors estimated that 53% of students were taking a course in their major.

Instructors rated students on their ability in the four learning goals required in each CAPS course, with ratings based on students’ holistic performance in the course. As reported in the Executive Summary, results indicated that 79% of students met or exceeded expectations at the graduating undergraduate level for Critical & Creative Thinking, 79% for Communication, 81% for Information Literacy, and 81% for Depth, Breadth & Integration of Learning.

Instructors were also asked to what extent students were prepared by their previous courses for the CAPS course. Overall, 68% of reports indicated that most students were prepared for the four learning goals.

“The Provost and the UCORE Committee join me in thanking the instructors who participated in the first assessment of capstones in our new general education curriculum. We greatly appreciate your efforts to offer quality senior experiences and to help gather outcomes data, which are of great interest to the WSU community as well as university accreditors,” said Vice Provost Wack.

For additional information, see the UCORE Assessment Website or contact the Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning.