Every academic leader needs to know how the institution can use their impending regional accreditation to accomplish something meaningful.
If we have to engage lots of people and sink hours and hours of work into the project, what can we get out of all that time and effort that will actually benefit our students and our institution?
To create a win-win-win opportunity, many institutions are linking institutional accreditation with learning outcomes assessment and admissions.
Collect and Use Learning Outcomes Assessment Data:
- Even before the self-study year is upon them, institutions begin by gathering objective baseline data on entering students’ critical thinking.
- The most popular instruments for this are the California Critical Thinking Skills Test and the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI).
- Graduate professional schools elect their profession-specific versions of the skills test, specifically the Business Critical Thinking Skills Test (BCTST), the Health Sciences Reasoning Test – (HSRT), or the Legal Studies Reasoning Profile (LSRP).
- Two-year institutions prefer the Test of Everyday Reasoning – (TER) for the same purpose.
- The College Student Success assessment measures thinking skills and mindset of first year undergraduate, college level transfers and adult re-entry students.
- Whichever instrument is selected, that same tool is then used to gather exiting data, ideally longitudinally, on those same students. But if matching pre-test with post-test is not possible, the next option is using cross-sectional data on the graduating students. An optimal plan, if the timing permits, is to gather the post-test data in the year before the accreditation self-study will be started.
- Comparing entry pretest data with exit post-test data enables the institution to address the student outcomes assessment question in a meaningful way. The reports generated by the Insight Assessment testing system enable faculty to readily identify which critical thinking skills and habits of mind are most in need of attention through curricular enhancement or stronger academic advising and retention related programming.
Link Pre-Test and Student Success Data to Admissions:
- Retention and graduation rates soar when the students entering a program have the critical thinking skills to learn the material and, if necessary, to pass licensure exams.
- Every academic Insight Assessment test instrument enables academic leaders in the Provost’s Office, Admissions Department, and Deans’ Offices to identify a relevant target overall critical thinking skills score or a set of critical thinking mindset scores against which to evaluate program applicants.
- The scores on these instruments are provided as numerical / quantitative and as categorical / qualitative. Along with other relevant considerations, selective admissions decisions can be better informed and an entry class or cohort can be constructed that has the optimal potential for program success.
Link Institutional Accreditation to Student Success:
- These learning outcomes assessment findings, their interpretation and application then become a major substantive element in the institution’s accreditation self-study document. That document shows how the institution identified critical thinking, a core learning outcome, measured it objectively with nationally benchmarked instruments, analyzed the results and used those findings to address any areas of curricular concern that may have emerged.
- The research on student success is unambiguous when it comes to the link between critical thinking and learning.
Summing up – to get the most out of the time, money, and effort that is going to be spent on these essential institutional activities, link assessment, accreditation and selective admissions.
And, of course, do so focusing on an essential learning outcome, namely critical thinking, and by using Insight Assessment’s premier academic testing instruments.
Follow our blog, Thinking INSIGHT, for resources and further discussion of the measurement of thinking skills and mindset.