At GW, assessment has become an essential tool for advancing the University’s commitment to academic excellence in teaching and learning. The teaching mission is a central element of the Strategic Plan for Academic Excellence and is honored in various college mission statements and assessment reports, such as the CCAS Assessment Task Force Report presented to the faculty of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in August 2009. The Strategic Plan for Academic Excellence articulates as a goal for undergraduate education that GW baccalaureate graduates will be prepared for entry into the 21st century global society through an education that has its foundations in substantial writing linked to development of oral communication and advocacy, critical thinking, analytical problem solving, computational literacy, and depth of study in their chosen academic major.
GW schools offering undergraduate degrees have likewise specified learning goals for general education that align with the overall university teaching mission. The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences adopted new G-PAC requirements in April 2010 organized around stated learning outcomes in four analytic modes, two perspectives, and competence in written and oral communication. The Elliott School of International Affairs revised its core curriculum and general education requirements in 2008. The schools of business and engineering have recently met the learning requirements for accreditation by their professional bodies.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the regional accrediting body, has clearly-stated expectations for student learning, laid out in Standard 11, Standard 12, and Standard 14. GW’s 2008 accreditation review required a progress report in April 2010 about program assessment efforts in three schools: Arts and Sciences, International Affairs, and the College for Professional Studies. The University was able to report 100 per cent success in adopting programmatic learning outcomes and plans for assessment for every degree program in these schools.
The academic program reviews (APR), which the University uses to evaluate the teaching, research, and community contributions of each department, offer guidelines for the teaching mission. The APR encourages departments to conduct annual assessments as essential preparation for the five-year program reviews. The Master Program Data Form and the Master Course Data Form used by the Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies and Academic Affairs to review new program and new course submissions now regularly require programmatic and course learning outcomes as part of the approval process.