The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an agency that provides peer review and accreditation of degree granting colleges and Universities in the middle Atlantic region. A Middle States Team visited Penn State from April 10 - April 13, 2005. In June, 2005, the Middle States Commission reaffirmed accreditation and requested a progress letter from the University documenting "the development of a comprehensive plan for the assessment of student learning that is linked to the overall assessment of institutional effectiveness and to the institution's strategic planning process" (Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 2005).
Penn State has responded by forming a Coordinating Committee on University Assessment. The committee's initial charge was to develop and implement a university-wide assessment plan that prioritizes the University needs. The committee then formed four task teams to examine the following spheres of assessment: course, program, General Education, and cocurricular. The Cocurricular Task Team began their efforts by defining the "cocurriculum" and drafting learning outcomes. The following is the latest draft.
The "cocurriculum" at Penn State includes both formal and informal out-of-class learning opportunities. These include involvement with clubs and organizations, workshops, lectures, internships, co-ops, living-learning communities, intramural and recreation programs, undergraduate research opportunities, interactions with faculty and other students, service learning, academic and career advising, cultural events and study abroad.
- Develop an understanding of knowledge from a range of disciplines/areas
- Demonstrate the ability to integrate and apply ideas and themes across the curriculum and cocurriculum.
- Acquire learning skills to assist in their academic success
- Develop critical and reflective thinking abilities
- Apply effective reasoning skills
Life Skills and Self-Knowledge
- Determine their career interests
- Acquire career management skills
- Develop the ability to manage and resolve interpersonal conflicts
- Cultivate a propensity for lifelong learning
- Develop personal health, fitness, wellness and leisure habits and identify health risks
- Improve self-understanding and awareness by developing an integrated personal identity (including sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, culture and spiritual)
- Exhibit responsible decision-making and personal accountability
Personal Integrity and Values
- Acquire ethical reasoning skills
- Improve their ability to manage their emotions effectively
- Develop a sense of personal integrity and clarify their personal values
- Appreciate creative expression and aesthetics
- Demonstrate compassion and empathy for others
- Possess multicultural awareness and knowledge
- Develop sensitivity to and appreciation of human differences
- Exhibit the ability to work effectively with those different from themselves
- Demonstrate a commitment to social justice
Leadership and Active Citizenship
- Communicate effectively with others both verbally and in writing
- Demonstrate an understanding of group dynamics and effective teamwork
- Understand leadership theory and styles
- Identify their own leadership style when working with others
- Develop a range of leadership skills and abilities such as effectively leading change, resolving conflict, and motivating others
- Develop a deep understanding of sustainability (locally, nationally, globally) and be prepared to lead others in the implementation of strategies for sustainable resource use on campus and in their communities
- Assume a sense of civic responsibility and a commitment to public life
Approved by the Pennsylvania State University Coordinating Committee on University Assessment, May 2006.
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