The ETS Proficiency Profile (ETS-PP) 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 ETS-PP 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, computed by comparing scores of first year and senior students, normalized to their SAT scores, across institutions. Learning Gains in the areas of critical thinking and writing are reported on our College Portrait. Reporting Learning Gains from a test like the ETS-PP is a requirement of participation in the Voluntary System of Accountability.
What We Did
In fall 2010, we offered the online unproctored version of the ETS-PP to about 800 students enrolled in courses that are typically taken by first year students. In spring 2011, we offered the same test to over 900 students enrolled in senior capstone courses. In almost all cases, instructors of those courses offered grade incentives to students to complete the test, either in the form required or bonus points. We provided instructors with sample syllabus language (approved by UNF’s IRB), and we repeatedly 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
As a first point for attention, we aspire to have a majority of our graduating seniors be proficient in writing and critical thinking. Conversations are currently underway to determine how UNF can improve its scores. Specifically, we are discussing how the definitions of writing and critical thinking in the Academic Learning Compacts compare to the ETS definitions, and whether it would be appropriate to bring more consistency to definitions of writing and critical thinking competencies across units.
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