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Energizing your Case: QEP on Critical Thinking through Writing

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How can smaller liberal arts colleges develop a relevant, culture-changing QEP while maintaining long-term viability? The College at Southeastern developed a method of assessing student writing for critical thinking that collaborates across several departments using writing-intensive courses and a writing center. This faculty-driven assessment model scores student writing according to institutionally designed rubrics. By requiring writing center feedback, the engaged academic programs created an institution-wide culture of continuous improvement to reinforce student learning across the campus. Southeastern presents its preliminary findings, the CASE rubric, and a data-driven improvement model used on its campus that will energize your school’s assessment processes.

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Energizing your Case: QEP on Critical Thinking through Writing

  1. 1. Energizing Your CASE A Small Liberal Arts College’s QEP on Critical Thinking through Writing SACSCOC Annual Meeting December 5-8, 2015 Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Dr. Keith Whitfield, Associate VP for IE and Faculty Communication Dr. John Burkett, Director of the Writing Center College of Biblical Studies-Houston Dr. Bryce Hantla, Director of IE and Accreditation
  2. 2. Mission (“...accomplishing the mission of the institution,” CR 2.12) SEBTS seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission. Core Competencies (1) Spiritual Formation (2) Biblical Exposition (3) Theological Integration (4) Ministry Preparation (5) Critical Thinking and Communication Demonstrate the ability to think critically, argue persuasively, and communicate clearly. The Local Situation: SEBTS
  3. 3. Discovering the Need Evidence of a local problem (“broad-based involvement of institutional constituencies in development,” Principles, CR 2.12; CS 3.3.2) • Mounting concerns that “my students cannot think or write well.” • Voiced concerns from college and graduate faculty Evidence of a national problem • The AAC&U (2007 reports that only 11% of college seniors are proficient in writing and merely 6% are proficient in critical thinking (p. 8). • Similar reports: Arum and Roksa (2011), Bok (2006), USDE (2006)
  4. 4. Narrowing the Focus Where we started (Original QEP Submission): • Assess Undergraduate and Graduate students through a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program (~2,800 students) • Use rubric that adapts previously established SLOs from program objectives How we focused (Post-Review QEP sequence and rubric): • Focus on Undergraduate students (~309 students) (“institutional capability,” CS 3.3.2) • Establish requirements for Writing Intensive (WI) courses to utilize the Writing Center • Create simplified SLOs specifically for the CASE Rubric that WI classes used while teaching (“focuses on SLOs,” CR 2.12)
  5. 5. Which Writing-Intensives to Select? ● How many WI courses would you designate? ● Which courses would you nominate for WI courses? General Education ● Composition I (ENG1110) ● Composition II (ENG1120) ● Hermeneutics (BTI1100) ● Faith, Reason, & Mind (PHI1100) ● World Cultures & Religions (PHI2100) ● Survey of Brit. Lit. (ENG2110) ● Survey of Am. Lit. (ENG2120) ● History of Ideas IV (HOI2120) Academic Disciplines ● Theology I (THE3110) ● Christian Ethics (ETH3600) ● Old Testament Theology (BTI4600) ● New Testament Theology (BTI4700) ● American Religious History (HIS3532) ● Christian Philosophy (PHI4100) ● Christian Apologetics (PHI4600) ● Christian Counseling (MIN4620)
  6. 6. TheProgramSequenceWeChose
  7. 7. Three Designated WI Courses 1. Hermeneutics Biblical Studies • Critical analysis and exposition • Exegesis research essay 2. Theology I Theological Studies • Deductive synthesis and application • Application research essay 3. History of Ideas IV Philosophy and Literature • Worldview analysis and Western thought • Academic research essay
  8. 8. Developing the Instrument Clarifies issue & thesis Identify the debated question at issue Assert a claim, interpretation, or position responding to the issue Argues with reasons & evidence Organize reasons supporting the argument Develop evidence supporting reasons and claims Situates perspectives Summarize differing viewpoints on the issue Situate personal perspective among or against other viewpoints Explains implications & applications Draw valid implications or Draw realistic applications “Identifies ... a plan to assess their achievement” (CS 3.3.2)
  9. 9. “...Demonstrates institutional capability for the initiation, implementation, and completion of the QEP; (2) includes broad-based involvement of the institutional constituencies in the [...] proposed implementation of the QEP; and (3) identifies goals and a plan to assess their achievement.” (CS 3.3.2)
  10. 10. Predicting the results: ● What would you say was the strongest criterion? ● What would you say was the weakest criterion?
  11. 11. Data-Driven Pivots From enhancement to benchmark model • Initial goal (2012): “All college students will demonstrate the ability to think critically through written argumentation as measured by the learning outcomes composing the CASE Rubric.” • SMART goal (2013): “College students will score an average (mean) of 3.0 or better in all criteria of the CASE Rubric in the capstone writing-intensive course.” From CASE to CASÆ Rubric • The update separates out the elements of issue and thesis. • It also arranges the criteria in the order in which writers typically organize research essays.
  12. 12. Strengths & Opportunities Clarifies issue & thesis Most students can assert a quality thesis Need to separate out the question at issue Argues with reasons & evidence Most can argue with deductive reasons and some evidence Need to consider audience when developing reasons and evidence Situates perspectives Need to show relation between diversity and issues Need to show how to write a literature review Explains implications & applications Correlation exists between applications and overall score Need to emphasize multiple applications
  13. 13. Your Turn--Q&A
  14. 14. Bibliography Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2007). College Learning for the New Global Century. Washington D.C.: AAC&U. Akin, D., Keathley, K., Travers, M., Burkett, J., & Hantla, B. (2012). Arguing the CASE: Critical Thinking through Writing, a Quality Enhancement Plan, 2011- 2015. http://www.sacscoc.org/pdf/2012trackbqeps/SoutheasternBaptistTheologicalSeminaryQEPExecutiveSummary.pdf Arum, R., & Roksa, J. (2011). Academically adrift: Limited learning on college campuses. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Bean, J. C. (2011). Engaging ideas: The professor's guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning in the classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Bok, D. (2009). Our underachieving colleges: A candid look at how much students learn and why they should be learning more. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Elder, L., & Paul, R. (2012). Critical thinking: Tools for taking charge of your learning and your life (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Pearson. Facione, P. A. (1990). Critical Thinking: A Statement of Expert Consensus for Purposes of Educational Assessment and Instruction. Research Findings and Recommendations. Hantla, Bryce F. (2014). Noetic Sanctification: Using Critical Thinking to Facilitate Sanctification of the Mind. Christian Perspectives in Education 7 (1). 3-30. http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1115&context=cpe.
  15. 15. Bibliography (Cont’d) Hantla, Bryce F (2012). “Cooks in the Kitchen: Promoting Writing Center Research through Collaboration.” Conference Presentation at the NC Writing Center Network Annual Conference. http://www.uncg.edu/eng/writingcenter/conference/program.php. Hewitt, G. (1995). A Portfolio Primer: Teaching, Collecting, and Assessing Student Writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Nosich, G. M. (2012). Learning to think things through: a guide to critical thinking across the curriculum (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson. Quay, S. E. (2007). Our underachieving colleges: A candid look at how much students learn and why they should be learning more. The Journal of Popular Culture, 40(5), 900-902. Rhodes, T. L. (2008). VALUE: Valid assessment of learning in undergraduate education. New Directions for Institutional Research, 2008(S1), 59-70. Spellings, M. (2006). A test of leadership: Charting the future of US higher education. Washington, D.C.: US Department of Education. Stein, B., Haynes, A., & Redding, M. (2007). Project CAT: Assessing Critical Thinking Skills. Paper presented at the STEM Assessment Conference, Washington, D. C. Suskie, L. (2009). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. White, E. M. (1994). Teaching and Assessing Writing: Recent Advances in Understanding, Evaluating, and Improving Student Performance. Revised and Expanded. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  16. 16. Appendices Original CASE Rubric (2013) . . . . . . A Exposition of CASE Rubric (2014, . . . . . B per request of Faculty and WI Professors) CASÆ Rubric (2015) . . . . . . . C
  17. 17. CASE Rubric for Critical Thinking Developed by the QEP Committee for SEBTS’s QEP: Arguing the CASE: Critical Thinking through Writing Critical Thinking is a general term referring to a wide range of cognitive skills and affective dispositions needed to fulfill the following:  Writing effectively: create, organize, and communicate logically and creatively sufficient evidence in support of conclusions and in light of audience;  Decision making: make reasonable, intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to practice in light of scriptural principles. The student… (4) Exemplary (3) Proficient (2) Sufficient (1) Insufficient Clarifies issue and thesis  Articulates accurately the question at issue.  Asserts a clear, relevant, and significant thesis.  Expresses well the question at issue.  Asserts a clear and relevant thesis.  Identifies the question at issue.  Writes a thesis.  Writes unclearly or incorrectly the question at issue.  Writes an insufficient or unclear thesis. Argues with reasons and evidence  Organizes excellent reasons for argument.  Details precise evidence for argument.  Organizes clear reasons for argument.  Organizes ample evidence for argument.  Supplies reasons in support of argument.  Provides some evidence for argument.  Identifies insufficient reasons for argument.  Provides insufficient evidence for argument. Situates perspectives  Contextualizes significant perspectives accurately.  Creates personal perspective in light of others.  Explains other perspectives sufficiently.  Creates a fair personal perspective.  Acknowledges other perspectives.  Identifies personal perspective with unacknowledged bias.  Presents other perspectives but minimally or unfairly.  Identifies personal perspective but unfairly or with bias. Explains implications and applications  Creates valid and significant implications or applications explicitly drawn from thesis and evidence.  Creates valid and realistic implications or applications from thesis and evidence.  Identifies implications or applications but not explicitly related to thesis and evidence.  Identifies insufficient implications or applications that are unrealistic, illogical, or not related well to thesis and evidence.
  18. 18. Exposition of CASE Rubric for Critical Thinking Critical Thinking is a general term referring to a wide range of cognitive skills and affective dispositions needed to fulfill the following:  Writing effectively: create, organize, and communicate logically and creatively sufficient evidence in support of conclusions and in light of audience;  Decision making: make reasonable, intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to practice in light of scriptural principles. The student… Exemplary Proficient Sufficient Insufficient Clarifies issue and thesis  Articulates a provocative and significant issue or question.  States a thesis that is clear, accurate, narrow in scope, and significant in purpose.  Articulates an issue and generic terms and fails to communicate the significance of the issue.  States a clear, relevant and general in scope thesis.  Identifies an issue.  States a thesis that is plainly stated and general in scope.  Identifies an issue unclearly or incorrectly.  States a minimally acceptable thesis for assignment. Argues with reasons and evidence  Organizes persuasive reasons for supporting the thesis.  Clearly demonstrates the logical movement from evidence to conclusion.  Evidence is clear, objective, and well researched for every aspect of the argument.  Organizes solid reasons for supporting the thesis.  Logical connections between evidence and conclusions are apparent.  Provides evidence that is clear, objective, and well- researched, but tend toward a general overview.  Provides suitable reasons and evidence for the argument that supports the thesis.  Displays a logical trajectory in the argumentation.  Assembles unclear or irrelevant reasons for position taken with little organization.  Presents biased evidence and/or undocumented positions in the place of evidence. Situates perspectives  Synthesizes and proposes a multifaceted perspective with accurate representations of opposing viewpoints from both primary and secondary sources.  Contextualizes personal perspective among or against key opposing viewpoints.  Presents research of important positions that seriously considers some opposing viewpoints.  Proposes personal perspective against opposing viewpoints, but less as a referee and more as an advocate.  Presents other perspectives.  Identifies personal perspective with unacknowledged bias.  Unfair treatment at times of other perspectives but or presented at a minimally acceptable level or shows.  Identifies personal perspective but may present unrecognized unfairness or bias at points. Explains implications and applications  Expresses reasonable conclusion with valid and significant implications or applications drawn from the thesis and supporting evidence.  Integrates and connects conclusion with thesis clearly and distinctly.  Expresses conclusion with valid but weak implications or applications from evidence.  Draws conclusions from evidence accurately with vague connection to the thesis.  Expresses conclusion, implications or applications, but merely echoes thesis.  Implications are vaguely related to the argument and/or evidence presented in the paper.  Expresses general conclusion without reference to the thesis or argument supported points made in the paper. Implications are unrealistic, illogical, or not related to the thesis and/or evidence.
  19. 19. CASE Rubric, 2015 Edition CASÆ Rubric for Critical Thinking Critical Thinking refers to a range of cognitive skills, critical criteria, and affective dispositions needed to do the following: Write effectively: Create and communicate logically and stylishly sufficient evidence to support conclusions in view of audience; Make wise decisions: Make intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to practice in light of biblical principles. Does the student… (4) Exemplary (3) Proficient (2) Sufficient (1) Insufficient Clarify the issue?  Articulates clearly and accurately the debated question at issue as the research problem.  Expresses well the debated question at issue as the research problem.  Identifies the debated issue.  Indicates vaguely or incorrectly the debated issue. Assert a thesis?  Asserts a clear, concrete, and significant thesis addressing the issue.  Writes a clear, concrete, relevant thesis addressing the issue.  Writes a clear thesis touching the issue.  Writes an unclear or insufficient thesis. Situate perspectives?  Explains accurately all major viewpoints in the scholarly conversation.  Replies insightfully to major viewpoints.  Summarizes fairly major viewpoints in the scholarly conversation.  Responds amply to major viewpoints.  Summarizes slightly major perspectives in the conversation.  Responds to major viewpoints with unacknowledged bias.  Presents other perspectives but partly or unfairly.  Responds trivially or shows reactionary bias or dismisses diversity of opinion. Argue with reasons and evidence?  Organizes significant valid reasons for the argument.  Details precise evidence for the argument.  Organizes valid reasons for the argument.  Organizes ample evidence for argument.  Supplies clear reasons for the argument.  Provides some evidence for argument.  Offers insufficient reasons.  Provides insufficient evidence. Explain applications or implications?  Creates several significant applications or implications drawn explicitly from the thesis and argument.  Creates several realistic applications or implications drawn from the thesis and argument.  Identifies realistic applications or implications but not explicitly drawn from the thesis or argument.  Identifies meagre applications or implications that are unrealistic, invalid, or irrelevant. o This updated general CASE Rubric incorporates two changes recommended by faculty: it separates out the elements of issue and thesis, and it arranges the criteria in the order in which writers typically develop and organize research essays: Introduction with criteria C, A, and S; Counterarguments with criterion S; Core Argument with criterion A (argue), and Conclusion with criterion E. o The QEP Committee recommends this updated general CASE Rubric to the academic areas so that they can update their specific CASE rubrics for the three writing-intensive courses (BTI 1100, THE 3110, and HOI 2120). Faculty of WI courses should use the respective specific CASE rubric to enhance critical thinking through research writing, using the rubric to teach critical criteria, offer feedback, grade essays, and score performance of critical thinking in research-writing projects. o Writing Center consultants will use the CASE Rubric to help students locate current performance and chart a plan to improve.
  20. 20. CASE Rubric, 2015 Edition Defining Critical Thinking Critical Thinking and Communication: Demonstrate the ability to think critically, argue persuasively, and communicate clearly. —Fifth core competency, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Since critical thinking is a key term in Southeastern’s fifth core competency and directly addressed by Southeastern’s QEP, it was necessary for the QEP Committee to define critical thinking in a way that could be shared by the different academic areas, to inform both their instruction and assessment of critical thinking. The definition below is adapted from a well-known source on critical thinking (quoted in the QEP report, p. 20), but here revised and with subheadings for clarity. Critical thinking is a general term referring to a wide range of cognitive skills, critical criteria, and affective dispositions needed to accomplish effectively the following essential abilities: a) Reading critically: analyze and evaluate arguments and truth claims for soundness (rhetorical analysis); also, analyze and evaluate features of language and literature for meaning and significance (literary analysis); b) Self-awareness: discover and revise personal and cultural presuppositions and prejudices; c) Writing effectively: create, organize, and communicate logically and creatively adequate reasons and evidence in support of conclusions and in light of audience; d) Decision making: make reasonable, intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to practice in light of biblical principles. The QEP evaluates only the two demonstrable “outside” skills: writing effectively and decision making through the assessment of critical- thinking through research-writing projects. Critical derives from Greek kritikos referring to the ability to discern and judge well (LSJ 997). Aristotle notices that audiences take one of two roles: “either a spectator [theoros] or a judge [kritês]” (Rhetoric 1.3.2). The role of judge is an insightful metaphor emphasizing the abilities to analyze, evaluate, and reply to ideas and arguments as cases according to learned criteria and processes of evaluation. Critical often translates in education to the distinction between passive and active learning—learning more and more to engage ideas, texts, and arguments with principled discernment.

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