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Inside the Undergraduate Experience: The University of Washington's Study of Undergraduate Learning

ISBN: 978-1-933371-26-9
432 pages
March 2007, Jossey-Bass
Inside the Undergraduate Experience: The University of Washington


The University of Washington’s Study of Undergraduate Learning (UW SOUL) tracked 304 entering freshmen and transfer students as they moved through their college experience from fall 1999 to spring 2003. Unparalleled in its scope, this longitudinal study focused on six areas of learning: writing, critical thinking/problem solving, quantitative reasoning, information literacy, understanding and appreciating diversity, and personal growth. This book provides faculty, staff, and administrators at two- and four-year institutions with a model of assessment that both captures the complexity of the undergraduate experience and offers practical information about how to improve teaching and learning. Data from surveys, open-ended email questions, interviews, focus groups, and portfolios make it possible for the authors to create case studies of individual learning paths over time, as well as to report the group’s aggregate experience. Honoring the authenticity of student voices, this book illuminates the central roles played by the academic disciplines and by faculty in undergraduate learning, offering powerful evidence for the argument that assessment of student learning is most complete and most useful when conducted at the department level.
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Table of Contents



1. Introduction.

2. Reserach Process.

3. Personal Growth.

4. Understanding and Appreciating Diversity.

5. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving.

6. Writing.

7. Quantitative Reasoning.

8. Information Technology and Literacy.

9. General Learning.

10. Summary and Last Words.



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Author Information

Catherine Hoffman Beyer is a research scientist in the University of Washington's Office of Educational Assessment, where she directs the University of Washington Study of Undergraduate Learning (UW SOUL) and assists faculty and departments as they develop learning goals and the methods to assess them. For the last 20 years, she has taught writing courses linked with courses across the curriculum in the university's Interdisciplinary Writing Program, receiving the English department’s distinguished teaching ward for that work in 1997. She codirected a series of three writing assessment studies for the UW and later served as dean for assessment and institutional effectiveness at a local community college. She received her M.A. in English from the University of Michigan in 1970 and has taught English and writing at the high school, community college, university, and graduate-school levels in Michigan, Oregon and Washington. Her poetry has appeared in a number of literary magazine as well as on Seattle city buses.

Gerald Gillmore is director emeritus of the University of Washington's Office of Educational Assessment. He served as the UW's coordinator of assessment from 1988 until 2001. In this capacity, he worked with departments across the university on assessing their curricula, developed a system of student and alumni surveys, led statewide assessment efforts in writing and quantitative reasoning, and represented the university at the state level. Dr. Gillmore developed the UW's Instructional Assessment System for collecting students' course evaluations, a system that is currently used at more than 60 colleges across the nation, as well as at the UW. He also developed and directed the State of Washington academic placement testing program. Dr. Gillmore received his Ph.D. in psychology in 1970 from Michigan State University. His research nterests and areas in which he has published include measurement theory, faculty evaluation, and assessment of student learning.

Andrew T. Fisher began his work on the UW SOUL in fall quarter 2000 as an undergraduate researcher, and he was hired to continue working with the study as a research assistant. He earned his B.A. in the comparative history of ideas in 2001 with a thesis on critical thinking. While an undergraduate, he began a group called Agora to serve as a meeting place for comparative history of ideas majors to discuss issues associated with their program and earned a Mary Gates Leadership Grant for this work. After traveling to Brazil and China he left the UW in 2004 to build a house with his father, and he is currently working in San Francisco. His many Interests include how and why people change their minds, the role of the personal in academic learning, and conflict resolution.

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There are several other findings that are equally worth noting, but would need more space than a book review to fully appreciate. Suffice it to say that if you are involved in higher education, whether you work with faculty or students, as an administrator or a teacher, this book will provide you with a window on learning that has no equal. (International Journal for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 07/08)
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Inside the Undergraduate Experience: The University of Washington's Study of Undergraduate Learning (US $44.00)

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