General Education Course Assessment

As a department, we strive to provide an excellent learning experience for our students.  In order to continue to improve our instruction, curriculum, and services, we regularly assess both our general studies students and all psychology majors.  Assessment data – in contrast to course grades – are not used to assess students, but the quality of our program.  The data allow us to note our strengths and improve upon our weaknesses so that our students are afforded a high quality psychology education.  In addition, we make our assessment data available so that prospective and current students, parents, and community members can see how we are performing.  For all of our assessments, our goal is to have 70% of our students receive a passing grade of 70% or better.

How are our students performing in general studies (Introductory Psychology and Lifespan) courses?

The university has developed a general education curriculum to ensure that students graduate with the skills they need to succeed in their chosen careers.  As they take their general education courses, students learn to think critically and read and write analytically about a broad range of topics.  The Psychology Department offers two general education courses – Introductory Psychology (PSY 1100), Lifespan Psychology (2000), and Child and Adolescent Psychology (2040). These courses are taken by Psychology majors as well as students from other departments.  Student performance in these courses is assessed by an examination given at the end of each semester that measures how well students are doing. Our assessment goal is for 70% of the students to correctly answer at least 70% of the test items.

In both courses, the outcomes were assessed using a multiple-choice exam, developed by faculty in the department. The current instrument was revised in Fall 2005. A 20-item exam was used to assess outcomes in Psychology 1100, Introductory Psychology.  A 15-item exam was used to assess outcomes in Lifespan and Development, Psychology 2000 and Psychology of Child and Adolescence, Psychology 2040.  The exams were administered during the last week of the semester.


The primary criterion for success is a student correctly answering 70% of the items on the exam. For PSY 1100 70% success is met with 14 items.  For PSY 2100, 70% success is met when a student successfully answers 10 items. In addition, 70% of each class should correctly answer 70% of the questions on the exam.   This latter statistic is included because: 1) it is not skewed by extreme individual scores, as is the case with group means and 2) arguably, the goal of the assessment is to improve the performance of the greatest number of students rather than produce extremely high  scores in a few.