The Wabash Study 2010
Twenty-nine colleges and universities joined the new version of the Wabash Study in fall 2010:
|Beloit College||Oxford College of Emory University|
|Cabrini College||Providence College|
|Carleton College||Regis University|
|College of Charleston||Rhode Island College|
|College of Saint Benedict & Saint John's University||St. Lawrence University|
|Community College of Rhode Island||St. Olaf College|
|Connecticut College||SUNY Oneonta|
|Gallaudet University||Truman State University|
|Hope College||University of Mary|
|Kalamazoo College||University of Rhode Island|
|Lasell College||Wartburg College|
|Luther College||Washington and Lee University|
|Middlebury College||Westminster College|
|Millersville University||Whittier College|
|North Carolina A&T State University|
The study will last three years, ending in the fall of 2013 (see timeline). The goal is for institutions to use evidence to identify an area of student learning or experience that they wish to improve, and then to create, implement, and assess changes designed to improve those areas. The study is designed to create a deliberative process for using evidence that an institution can build on for improvements in student learning. This includes building institutional capacity and infrastructure that can support successful assessment efforts after the study is completed. While each institution will focus on improving areas that are relevant to that institution, faculty, staff, and administrators from these institutions will collaborate during the course of the study as a community of practice, sharing information, approaches, problem-solving strategies, and lessons learned.
Since 2005, the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education (WNSLAE) has been the primary mechanism by which the Center of Inquiry has implemented its mission to collaborate with institutions to gather and use evidence to strengthen liberal arts education. After working with staff, faculty, administrators, and students from 49 institutions, we have learned two important lessons about the Wabash National Study. First, the study would have had greater institutional benefit if, in addition to surveys and standardized tests, it had included student work. Second, more than the assessment measures, the most effective component of the Wabash National Study was the ongoing collaboration between Center of Inquiry staff, Teagle Assessment Scholars, and campus representatives during visits, meetings, conference calls, and other interactions that were designed to help institutions make good use of their assessment data. In response, we developed the new version of the study that would incorporate both of these lessons.
Structure of the Wabash Study
The Wabash Study is a three-year project designed to assess the following:
- Inputs – the attitudes and values that students bring into college
- Experiences – the experiences that impact students once they are in college
- Outcomes – the impact that college has on student ability and knowledge
Each Wabash Study institution will build an Assessment Portfolio that consolidates an institution's evidence about inputs, experiences, and outcomes. This portfolio will form a "knowledge base" from which institutions will work during the course of the study. Although the specific forms of evidence in each institution's portfolio will vary, institutions are required to include evidence on the qualities, values, and skills that students bring to colleges, measures of what they experience in and out of the classroom during college, and measures of student learning. In addition, can include any other program, department, or institutional assessment evidence they deem important in their Wabash Study Assessment Portfolios.
Having good assessment evidence is only a first step toward making sense of and using that evidence to inform changes that improve student learning. The new version of the Wabash Study is designed to shift the emphasis from gathering evidence to working through a structured "change curriculum" that is designed to help campus constituencies:
- evaluate the results of quantitative and qualitative assessment evidence;
- use that evidence to identify specific institutional, course, and program elements they would like to strengthen;
- develop, implement, and assess responses that are designed to strengthen these institutional elements.
Although the Wabash Study includes tests and surveys that will help an institution meet accountability standards, the study focuses on the formative use of evidence to promote institutional changes. We will accomplish this through a series of structured site visits, meetings, and workshops that we developed in the first iteration of the Wabash Study. These activities are staffed by the Director and Associate Director of the Center of Inquiry and Teagle Assessment Scholars. Teagle Scholars include faculty and administrators from institutions across the country with expertise in assessment and institutional improvement.