Featured Assignments

Featured Assignment One:

Liberal Arts in Action

Nina Namaste, Elon University, shared her assignment “Liberal Arts Skills in Action” which aligns to the DQP’s civic and global learning proficiency. Namaste teaches Spanish, women and gender studies, and general education courses.

Like many faculty, Namaste is committed to the tradition of the liberal arts as a foundation for an engaged and meaningful life. The capstone assignment featured here “Liberal Arts Skills in Action” is one that she has adapted for use in all of her courses. It asks students to become global citizens and to bring their knowledge and abilities to bear on a pressing social issue.

You can see Namaste’s original full entry in the NILOA assignment library here. Or click to go directly to the assignment as given to students and the rubric used to evaluate it.

In what follows here you will find a brief statement of context in which Nina describes the assignment’s purpose and setting; an excerpt from a NILOA/AAC&U webinar in which Nina shows and describes several student projects done in response to the assignment; and commentary from peers who offer their perspective on the assignment.

This YouTube video is excerpted from “Assignments and Signature Work.” A Zoom event, with Susan Albertine, Pat Hutchings, and Nina Namaste, co-sponsored by NILOA and the Association of American Colleges & University. June 13, 2016.

Featured Assignment Two:

Assessing Integrative Learning in the Senior Capstone

Many campuses today are developing capstone courses where students can pull together the diverse strands of their undergraduate experience. This example, from Mary Kay Jordan-Fleming, Mount St. Joseph University, is a case in point, with a focus on social justice and an explicit emphasis on reflection as a key to integration.

The initial version of this Capstone course assignment appeared in the NILOA Assignment Library two years ago. As described in the Background and Context section there, the assignment involved a scholarly paper exposing and confronting a specific form of social injustice. It was intended to address a number of DQP proficiencies corresponding to our institution’s baccalaureate learning outcomes in communication, critical thinking, cultural competence, and integrative learning. In the intervening years, the assignment was revised in response to feedback and assessment data showing that students struggle to address a large number of learning competencies in a single assignment. A more focused assignment was created to address cultural competence, and this longer paper was modified to maintain its emphasis on communication, critical thinking, and integrative learning. Gateway criteria, or “minimum requirements for even the submission of the assignment” were also added to ensure that students had secured topic approval and had carefully proofread their papers. The identification of these two requirements as separate Gateway Criteria reinforce the understanding that they are necessary but not sufficient for the fulfillment of the assignment. (Adherence to the institution’s academic honesty policy is also a minimum requirement for passing, but because it often requires closer reading to assess, and may involve more far-reaching penalties, it is not included with Gateway Criteria here.)

NILOA requested that this Featured Assignment focus on Integrative Learning. Therefore, the submission has been expanded to include not only the Social Justice Paper in which students integrate knowledge from various academic disciplines to approach a significant problem, but also a separate Reflective Paper in which students step back and perform the more metacognitive task of considering the role of their liberal arts education for broadening and deepening their approach to significant world issues. The Reflective Paper was new in 2016; thus, the two examples of student work below are a first attempt on their part and mine. No doubt, there will be modifications and improvements as more assessment data are gathered.

Assignment I: Social Justice Essay

Assignment II: Reflective Essay

Commentary from peers:

Part 1: Context

Part 2: Examples

Videos Filmed and Produced by: Chris Boland, Mount St. Joseph University.

Featured Assignment Three:

Assessment of Essential Studies Quantitative Reasoning Skills

Jeff Carmichael, Anne Kelsch, Alena Kubatova, Kathy Smart, and Ryan Zerr from the University of North Dakota aligns with the DQP’s Intellectual Skills proficiency. The assignment has been used to assess quantitative reasoning skills of students in our campus-wide general education Essential Studies (ES) program. This assignment is not specific to any course. Rather, it can be used broadly for undergraduate students at all levels of study. The original Assignment Library submission can be found here.

Examples of student work:

Peer commentary: