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Critical Perspectives


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    1. Procedures for submitting a course to COI for designation as a Critical Perspective
         Sample proposals and format:
    2. Assessment of General Education Courses
    3. Implementation Plan
         Calculation of Assessment Schedule 
    4. General Guidelines for Critical Perspectives Designation
Note:  When filling out forms that every blank space has to be filled out, and if there is something that is Not Applicable, that people should just right N/A in those areas. 

Welcome to the Critical Perspectives website. Information about the current All College Critical Perspectives requirement can be found here

1) Procedures for submitting a course to COI for designation as a Critical Perspective

Proposals should be electronically submitted using the online critical perspectives forms by 10:00 AM on the first Friday of the block to be included in the agenda for the block's faculty meeting. (When you press "send" on the form, it will be sent to the Associate Dean of the Faculty.) To include a lab/field designation to a Scientific Investigation course, please submit a brief explanation of the lab/field component to the course of NSEC (Sally Meyer, Chair 2016-17) by email by the first Thursday of the block. 

Critical Perspectives requests will be discussed at the COI meetings which take place on the second Wednesday of each block. If the COI approves the request, the course is placed in the faculty consent agenda for a final vote at the faculty meeting at the end of that block.  The Registrar then takes the faculty meeting minutes and updates the catalog and on-line course system to show the course fulfills a general education requirement.

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2) Assessment of General Education Courses

Summary: In response to the Higher Learning Commission mandate to work on assessment, the COI, with the support and assistance of faculty teaching, and with Institutional Research has developed learning outcomes, direct measurement procedures, and rubrics for the assessment of the Critical Perspectives General Education program.  At Colorado College, we offer many classes to fulfill these requirements.  For example, the college has approved about thirty-five courses to fulfill West-in-Time, including courses taught in History, Philosophy, Religion, Music, Art History, Classics, Math, Physics, English, Drama, and General Studies.  Nearly ninety courses meet the Scientific Investigation requirement, and over two-hundred courses meet the Global Cultures requirement.  This document presents the results of three years of effort by the faculty to develop an assessment plan relevant to all these designated courses. 

The Process: COI built on the current statement of Critical Perspectives goals.  These Critical Perspectives include West-in-Time, Global Cultures, and Scientific Investigation of the Natural World (copied below in section 1a).  We ask students to understand how they are situated in time by studying the Western world through time, and in space, by looking at the diversity of cultures across the globe now and in the past.  Students also study to understand the world outside the human in the third perspective.  Within this framework, the committee drafted a series of learning outcomes associated with each of the three goals.  Faculty teaching the critical perspectives reviewed these objectives.  Faculty teaching scientific investigations offered small revisions.  Faculty teaching West-in-Time courses moved from feeling that courses across disciplines could not possibly be seeking the same outcomes, to an agreed upon set of outcomes.  The breadth of the Global Cultures category (all that is not West) complicated the discussion.  The committee asked about fifty faculty teaching these courses for assistance.  They settled on two fundamental statements that reflected the breadth of what faculty teach.  Throughout this process, the committee compiled responses, revised draft statements, and continued to seek input until participants achieved consensus.  This document presents the results of this three-year process.  Learning Outcomes are found in section 1b; the assessment plan in section 2, and rubrics in Appendix 1.

Introduction:  The COI moved from learning outcomes to direct measures of assessment.  The committee considered an array of options.  At one extreme, the faculty who teach General Education courses could develop a pre-test to be administered to all incoming first-year students and then administer a second test to seniors to determine whether they learned what we claimed they would learn (e.g. faculty develop a variation on the concept of a knowledge survey).  At the other extreme, the college could choose not to develop over-arching measures, but ask individual faculty to create their own direct measures, find someone to review the student learning, and send a report to COI.  In the end, the Committee decided to work with faculty to develop college-wide outcomes and rubrics, and ask faculty teaching General Education courses to designate an aspect of their current courses for evaluation and to pair with other faculty to discuss how well the students meet the goals.

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3) Implementation Plan

COI considered several proposals from faculty concerning the best way to carry out the assessment of General Education Critical Perspectives courses.  Some faculty suggested a plan comparable to the Writing Program in which a group of faculty volunteers would be asked to rate all the various pieces of work collected for assessment during the week or so after graduation.  Others suggested that faculty could seek student volunteers to read the work in areas of their expertise.  From these suggestions, the committee selected the following as the best approach. 

COI will assign faculty “partners” each year to exchange and discuss students’ work.  These partners will meet in a collegial environment to discuss what they learned about how well each other’s class is meeting General Education goals.  Finally, they will send a brief report to COI. COI will compile these responses and prepare a report to the faculty each year on how well the courses as a whole are meeting the General Education requirement and make recommendations for areas of improvement as necessary. 

Rather than having all critical perspective faculty involved in the assessment process in any given year and rather than reviewing every critical perspectives course for every learning outcome each year, COI will select approximately one-third of the faculty teaching courses in each of the three critical perspectives in any one year.  COI might be guided in this choice by reviewing one particular learning outcome in each year.  For instance, if COI wished to determine how well our courses in international topics for Global Cultures are meeting goals, then the subset would come from among the international courses that are approved for Global Cultures (G) credit.  Or if COI wished to know more about how well Scientific Investigations of the Natural world (I or Lab) courses are meeting the particular bullet on “the use of quantitative reasoning” (note that SI courses need only meet two of the above five bullets so not all courses address all bullets), COI would select from faculty teaching the subset of I/Lab courses with the quantitative reasoning component. 

Faculty from classes that are being assessed select an appropriate project for that assessment.  As noted above, faculty teaching West-in-Time (W) have suggested to COI that they prefer asking students to write a one or two page essay late in the block (but during the block) intended as a response to a particular learning outcome.  Faculty teaching Global Cultures have indicated they may wish to use such an essay question or may feel that a particular class assignment, unrelated to assessment per se, may equally serve as a valuable assessment tool and may substitute for the one or two page assigned for assessment purposes. I/Lab faculty also wish to select a class project that best responds to the outcome and illustrates how well their students are meeting that particular outcome.  The person reviewing the material is not grading the project, but looking for information on how well the student has met the learning outcome (see rubrics).  We anticipate that this review might take several hours but would not be comparable to grading these essays as part of the class. 

COI proposes to assign courses in such a way that on average, a faculty member would be asked to participate in this assessment every three years (obviously some flexibility is needed, particularly if someone teaches more than one type of critical perspective).  GEOC would not ask a faculty member for an assessment of all sections of a course they teach.  COI will attempt to assign partners from different departments to provide added perspective on our curriculum.

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Calculation of Assessment Schedules:

Note: this plan was developed when it still required Diverse Cultures and Critiques, and will be modified slightly to accommodate the new requirements for Global Cultures and Social Inequality.

Overarching Principles: COI will try not to involve one faculty member in the assessment process more than every three years.  In seven years, COI will write a report on what we have learned from the assessment process for our next re-accreditation.  We generally will not assess courses taught by visitors.

Scientific Investigation: There are about 45-50 faculty teaching I/Lab courses each year, most teach more than one such course each year.  We also agreed to select about two of the five science bullets each year to review, so the actual review may be smaller than the number derived here, depending on how many courses incorporate each bullet.  The Registrar will reconstruct that information from the faculty meeting minutes.  So, COI will assess courses taught by no more than 15 (-17) science faculty next year, the next 15 (-17) after that, and the last 15 (-17) in year three.  We almost certainly will assess two sections of one course this way (e.g. Chemistry 107, Math 126,..), but will avoid calling on individual faculty more than every three years.

West in Time: We offer about 30-35 sections each year, many in FYE (which is also being assessed, so some care is needed in selecting those courses).  There are about thirty regular faculty teaching west-in-time courses over all.  So we would assess courses taught by ten of the faculty in year one, a second group of ten in year 2 and the third group of ten in year 3.

Global Cultures and Social Equality: COI will assess one of the two annually.  The college generally offers about 110 of these courses per year; about 45 are related to global cultures; and about 65 are related to social inequality.   In years 1, 3, and 5 we will assess one of these two outcomes; in years 2, 4, 6 we will assess the other.  Of the first set of courses (outcome 2), a number are taught by the same people, and about 30 faculty teach regularly.  So we would plan to assess 10 courses taught by one faculty in year 1, 10 more in year 3, and the last 10 in year 5.  We also have more than one course fulfilling outcome 1taught annually by some faculty, and there are about 30-35 faculty teaching these courses each year, so we would assess courses taught by 10-12 of these faculty in year 2, 10-12 more in year 4, and 10-12 more in year 6.  The result of this is that faculty will likely be involved in assessment once every six years, while those in other areas may be once every three years.

Summary:

  I or Lab fac W fac G/S fac #students [20/class] #reports to COI
Year 1 15 10 10 (m) 700 35
Year 2 15 10 12 (i) 740 37
Year 3 15 10 10 (m) 700 35
Year 4 15 10 12 (i) 740 37
Year 5 15 10 10 (m) 700 35
Year 6 15 10 12 (i) 740 37
Year 7 compile summary report for next reaccreditation while continuing to tweak and run the program

We should be able to assess the work of more than one-third of our student body each year, though students who take more than one of these courses may find themselves assessed several times during their college years, while asking faculty to participate in this work once every three years.

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4) General Guidelines for Critical Perspectives Designation

  1. Courses may meet more than one designation (for example, a course may be designated both “West in Time” and “Global Cultures”) but students must choose one designation or the other. We found that some courses (not many) met the criteria for multiple Critical Perspectives and we would like to honor the scope and depth of these courses. Again, students may not count one course as fulfilling multiple Critical Perspectives requirements. 
     
  2. Topics courses do not receive blanket designations; we will determine the Critical Perspective designation at the ‘section’ level on a case-by-case basis annually.
     
  3. Courses of less than one-unit credit do not count toward Critical Perspectives requirements. The rationale is that a 0.5 unit course does not achieve sufficient depth or breadth to fulfill the objectives of the CP requirement. We should note that in the case of a half-block course intrinsically linked to an extended format course (such that students must take both to receive one full unit of credit), the whole course, half-block and extended format combined, may receive a Critical Perspectives designation.
     
  4. Independent study and reading courses do not count toward Critical Perspectives requirements. Our reasoning is that this sort of course, commonly arranged for one or only a few students, may not devote sufficient attention to the Critical Perspectives objectives for one of the 3 rubrics. Also the more open form of the courses, potentially without regular class meetings, and the small number of participants, may mean that the advantages of undertaking Critical Perspectives investigations with and among a diverse group of students would not be realized.
     
  5. College-credit courses earned before matriculation at Colorado College (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, etc.) should not be allowed to fulfill Critical Perspectives requirements, except for the case of transfer students. The rationale is that only courses at Colorado College will have been designed and carried out with the Critical Perspectives objectives in mind. The Registrar will examine transcripts from which questions emerge (for example, transfer transcripts) and, in consultation with the COI, will identify courses that may be eligible.
     
  6. Two-block FYE courses should be eligible for just one Scientific Inquiry credit, due to the obligation of the FYE courses to help students develop diverse college skills. Linked one-block FYE courses, each of which already has Scientific Inquiry designation, will carry two credits of Scientific Inquiry. Students fulfilling two units of Scientific Inquiry in their FYE linked courses must still also meet the requirement that one unit of Scientific Inquiry must be Lab/Field, which means that if neither of their FYE courses are Lab/Field, they will still need to take a subsequent Scientific Inquiry: Lab/Field course.
     
  7. (This applies primarily to courses in the Natural Sciences.) Courses with three or more pre-requisites need not be eligible for Critical Perspectives designation, since in most cases the pre-requisites will have satisfied the Critical Perspectives requirement.
     
  8. (This applies primarily to courses in the Natural Sciences.) Scientific Inquiry courses that already have Lab/Field designation will continue to do so. The COI will not attribute Lab/Field designation to new courses: the department, taking the new course to the divisional executive committee and the Committee on Instruction and the Faculty Agenda, will continue to name new Scientific Inquiry courses as meeting the Lab/Field designation. The NSEC will have the responsibility of reviewing whether a course meets the Lab/Field designation.