Among the most elusive challenges we see when it comes to foundational skills is the difficulty of teaching and assessing them consistently across disciplines. Our recent white paper found that institutions universally value skills like critical thinking and communication, however instruction and learning outcomes vary widely depending on the department, course, or faculty member. But this is a challenge worth pursuing, as research shows strong foundational skills can impact everything from retention to graduation rates and employability.
We were fortunate to be joined by Dr.’s Stephanie Dance-Barnes and Eli Collins-Brown of Winston Salem State University, who discussed revamping their Gen Ed program with a greater emphasis on foundational skills instruction. As you’ll see in the full recording below, WSSU identified 7 central Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) they wanted to see all students master: critical thinking and reading, quantitative and scientific literacy, oral and written communication, and information literacy.
They understood that without the ability to accurately assess student performance, they would never see the desired level of student performance. Everyone was frustrated with their old system. Data had to be entered manually, and use of rubrics by faculty was inconsistent at best; they reported low response rates and a lack of ownership. All of this contributed to a general lack of confidence in the results (which then triggered the cycle to repeat itself).
Luckily, there was a better way. WSSU partnered with NimblyWise to:
- Embed instructional materials and assessment instruments in their LMS
- Collect data automatically
- Make it easier for faculty to be more consistent
- Measure foundational skills across disciplines
- Provide actionable data at all levels
Dr. Dance-Barnes also shared the example of introducing NimblyWise as part of her efforts to build information literacy skills among her students. As one of the 7 SLO’s, information literacy was a natural fit for biology students learning to conduct research. The customizable platform allowed her to design the course with little friction as she embedded videos, tutorials, and quizzes into Blackboard. Most importantly, the assessments provided feedback in real time so she could adjust her instruction to the needs of each group of students.
View the full webinar recording above, and to learn more about NimblyWise’s groundbreaking research into challenges like those faced by WSSU, download our white paper, Campus Response to the Foundational Skills Crisis.