The overall goal of the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), entitled “Enhancing Performance in Critical Thinking,” is to improve freshman level student learning in the area of critical thinking. Within the context of the FAMU QEP, enhancing student performance in critical thinking is synonymous with improving student learning. As part of the FAMU QEP, course curricula will be redesigned to include explicit critical thinking instructional and learning objectives with corresponding assessment instruments. Consistent with the FAMU Mission Statement, developing students’ critical thinking skills in and out of the classroom will improve student learning, and produce graduates who are more prepared for the challenges of college, career and society. The FAMU QEP has a specific focus on select courses in the University’s general education core that most FAMU students typically take during their freshman year. With a focus on the target courses, and by using the FAMU Critical Thinking Definition (the ability to understand, to apply knowledge, to analyze and solve problems, to develop new knowledge, and to think creatively), and the concepts of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Revised), the FAMU QEP will introduce changes in curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment methods in order to increase the likelihood that freshman students who complete the target general education courses will show measurable improvements in their critical thinking skills, which include the ability to:
- Effectively identify, gather, and process relevant information or evidence;
- Effectively analyze and evaluate information or evidence;
- Make informed judgments about the validity of information and the arguments of others; and
- Use relevant information to solve problems.
Specific activities in and relating to these courses include:
- Writing critical essays; (assessed using newly developed University uniform critical thinking rubrics);
- Preparation and defense of case study analyses (assessed using newly developed University uniform critical thinking rubrics);
- Mathematical problem solving and data analysis;
- Creation of a Freshman Critical Thinking Seminar Series; and
- Creation of a Freshman Summer Reading Program.
Improvements in student learning that result from implementation of the FAMU QEP will be measured by the anticipated positive and incremental changes in students’:
- Critical thinking skills (as measured by direct assessment instruments, such as critical thinking rubrics, the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress (MAPP) test, and the Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT);
- Knowledge of concepts covered in the targeted general education courses;
- Work products, as demonstrated by the improvements in their course assignments.
Faculty development will be an important part of the implementation of the FAMU QEP. All University faculty will have the opportunity to participate in a series of faculty development activities designed to improve pedagogy and assessment of critical thinking skills. Accordingly, uniform and effective critical thinking pedagogy and assessment will be embedded into course curricula, which will accomplish the overall goal of enhancing students’ critical thinking skills, with an ultimate improvement in student learning. An annual assessment plan will be implemented to evaluate improvements in student learning that result from the QEP initiatives as well as to evaluate the overall effectiveness of institutional implementation of the QEP.
Quality Enhancement Plan:
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