The ETS Proficiency Profile (ETS-PP) tests tests college level general education skills in reading, critical thinking, writing, and mathematics. When administered to incoming first year students and graduating seniors, it provides a measure of students’ learning in college. Thus the results inform improvement in curriculum and instruction that go beyond learning in individual majors to encompass the entire undergraduate experience.
One use of the EPP is to measure learning in college, compared across institutions. “Learning Gains” are a relative measure of improvement in critical thinking and writing skills during college. These are computed by regressing test takers’ EPP scores on their ACT or SAT scores to compute an expected mean score – i.e., the level of performance we would expect on the EPP, given students’ performance on the ACT or SAT exam. Following this, the difference between the expected mean score and actual EPP score for both the freshman and senior cohorts at UNF is calculated (these differences are used to classify test taking cohorts into five categories: “well below expected,” “below expected,” “expected,” “above expected” or “well above expected”). Then, the difference of the differences between freshman and senior students at UNF is compared to the same differences across institutions in the analysis. UNF’s score gain, in comparison to other institutions is reflected by its decile ranking, which is the “value added” gain in reference to other colleges. In 2015-2016, UNF’s decile ranking was a “10,” which is the highest possible value. (Please note: This does not mean seniors did not perform better than freshman at other institutions, rather the score gain between freshman and seniors at UNF was larger than gains between cohort groups among other institutions in the analysis.) Learning Gains in the areas of critical thinking and writing are reported on our College Portrait.
What We Did
In Fall 2015 and again in Spring 2016, we offered the online unproctored version of the EPP to students enrolled in courses that are typically taken by first year students. In Spring 2016, we offered the same test to students enrolled in senior capstone courses. In almost all cases, instructors of those courses offered grade incentives to students to complete the test, as required or bonus points. We provided instructors with sample syllabus language (approved by UNF’s IRB), and we offered instructors a class presentation to explain the test to their students. We emailed the students directly about how to access the test itself, providing them with a web link and instructions. Students had a two week window for test completion, during which they received multiple reminders.
The key results are as follows:
Things to Know in Interpreting the Results
Where We Go From Here
The Writing Program and Center offer writing courses, workshops, embedded assessment, and targeted tutoring for UNF students regardless of level and/or discipline. The UNF General Education program is the only Florida public higher education institution that requires nine (9) credit hours in writing, with six (6) hours dedicated to first-year writing based on a metacognitive approach and grounded in trait-specific rubric assessment and three (3) hours dedicated to writing courses designed for students to study and practice types of writing from a wide range of disciplines. The Writing Program and Center will continue outreach with departments and programs, as well as continue its initial conversations with interested stakeholders from outside the university, such as regional organizations and corporations. In the next phase of its strategic plan, the Writing Program and Center will continue to support first-year orientation and experiences as well as continue to design and revise its placement of first-year incoming students into appropriate writing coursework as to encourage and facilitate retention and reasonable graduation speed. Additionally, the WPC will design curriculum and supplemental support to international and non-native English writers.
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