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Marshall University’s Degree Qualifications Profile Project

Stephen Kopp, President

Every degree program at Marshall University conducts assessment of student learning annually.  When the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) asked us to join a cohort of institutions charged with testing the Lumina Foundation’s Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP), we felt it to be a serendipitous moment because, one year prior to the invitation, we had launched a new core curriculum centered on seven domains of critical thinking.  However, what a Marshall degree means for every graduate (at each degree level), regardless of the student’s major field of study, had not been completely articulated through the core curriculum implementation.  The DQP provided a framework that allowed us (a) to test the DQP and (b) to examine closely our instructional and assessment practices with the goal of defining Marshall’s own degree profile.

Marshall launched three interrelated projects to support the DQP testing:

First, a Syllabus Task Force was charged with examining Marshall’s current master syllabus policy. Updates to the Marshall University Syllabus Policy, passed by Faculty Senate in April 2012 and by the Board of Governors in August 2012, require syllabi to include student learning outcomes and a grid showing relationships among course outcomes, learning activities, and assessments. As can be seen in the suggested template, faculty explicitly link course outcomes, pedagogy (i.e., opportunities students will have to practice the outcomes during the course), and assessment (i.e., how each outcomes will be assessed in the course).
Second, a Core Domains Workgroup was formed: (i) to study Marshall’s current domains of critical thinking; (ii) to recommend needed revisions; (iii) to articulate outcomes; and (iv) to develop assessment rubrics for each outcome.  In completing this work, the group examined the university’s seven domains of critical thinking, the areas of learning and outcomes of the DQP, and feedback received from Marshall’s degree programs following their testing of the DQP. This analysis resulted in a proposed revision to Marshall’s Core Domains of Critical Thinking and a recommended Marshall University Degree Profile at the Baccalaureate Level.  This  proposal was passed by the University’s faculty Senate in January 2013.
Third, all degree programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s levels have been asked to examine the alignments between course and program outcomes and to map outcomes to the applicable DQP areas of learning and degree specific outcomes.  Each program has been asked to:

  • specify a minimum of two assessment points (one early and one that occurs during the student’s capstone/culminating experience),
  • develop assessment rubrics for each outcome,
  • collect and analyze assessment data with the goal of identifying areas in need of improvement,
  • identify any DQP areas of learning to which its outcomes do not align, and report reasons for lack of alignment, and
  • identify any areas of learning not included in the DQP that may be included with future revisions.

During the summer of 2012, a faculty workgroup examined all degree program submissions and reported findings to the university and to the Higher Learning Commission. Marshall’s final report to the HLC was submitted June 2013.

Please see www.marshall.edu/hlcopenpathways for additional information regarding Marshall’s project.