Going Beyond the Outcome Assessment Minimum: Toward a Framework to Assess Students' Integrative Learning in a University General Education Program
Prior research has demonstrated the efficacy of general education coursework among American college students (Ball, 2012; Rosenzweig, 2009). Traditional models of general education programs are predicated on the understanding that exposure to a broad set of educational experiences creates well-rounded graduates (Roche, 2010). However, emerging research shows the importance of integrative learning experiences including general education programs (Lowenstein, 2015). These programs are just now at the initial stages of development and implementation at colleges and universities making it possible to study direct effects on student learning. What remains, however, is limited ways to measure such learning in emerging programs. One large, research university in a mid-Atlantic state provides opportunity to construct a measure of integrated learning. This study addressed the salient literature on general education in higher education today and then used quantitative methods and qualitative methods to investigate an empirically based measure of integrative learning. Findings revealed the continuous process of integrative learning from disciplinary knowledge to application to real world and established an initial framework for assessing students learning outcomes of integration. Finally, the research provided implications for researchers and practitioners to utilize the instrument and extend it to a wider range of students and academic programs.