arts colleges really foster creativity and critical thinking?
Foundation grant will support three-year effort to measure results
WOOSTER, Ohio, June 19, 2006 The Teagle Foundation has awarded a group of five Ohio colleges a three-year, $297,353 grant to develop new ways to assess two core outcomes of a liberal arts education: creativity and critical thinking. The five schools are The College of Wooster, Denison University, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, and Ohio Wesleyan University. The project will be directed by Lori Bettison-Varga, associate dean for research and grants and associate professor of geology at The College of Wooster.
The goal is to develop tools that can be used across the disciplines, in introductory level courses to assess students entering skills, as well as in advanced and capstone courses to assess the outcomes of four years of college, said Iain Crawford, Woosters vice president for academic affairs.
The project will begin during the 2006-07 academic year with the development of two preliminary sets of assessment measures one for creativity, one for critical thinking by faculty work groups from the participating colleges. These assessment measures, or rubrics, will be designed using a methodology called Primary Trait Analysis, which identifies specific behaviors or attributes associated with a particular learning outcome. For example, one trait in the critical thinking rubric might be alternative opinions considered, with points awarded on a five-point scale based upon the number of opposing opinions a student considered in completing an assignment.
In year two, the assessment measures will be used in selected courses on each of the five campuses, and further refined based on that experience. In year three, a larger number of faculty as many as 15 on each campus will employ the rubrics in their classes.
The project will continue as a longitudinal study of the classes with which the rubrics were piloted following the conclusion of the third year of Teagle Foundation funding. This longitudinal study will be particularly important in determining the overall effect of liberal arts education, as practiced at these five institutions, on developing creative and critical thinkers.
The College of Wooster is an independent liberal arts college, nationally recognized for an innovative curriculum that emphasizes independent learning. Each Wooster senior works one-on-one with a faculty mentor to create an original research project, written work, performance or art exhibit. Founded in 1866, the college enrolls approximately 1,800 students.
John L. Hopkins
Assoc. V. P. for College Relations
The College of Wooster
Wooster, Ohio 44691