The Council for Aid to Education's Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) 2009-2013 Phase 3 Longitudinal Report on Nyack College revealed tremendous results. Nyack's Assistant Provost Dr. Bennett Schepens (pictured above) shared the following observations on critical thinking and written communication of Nyack College students.
A liberal arts education is valuable for more than the major a student chooses. The student also experiences a wide variety of courses that are intended to give a broad range of knowledge.
One of the goals of a Nyack College education is to provide students with multiple opportunities to develop writing skills and critical thinking. This involves writing evidence based essays, presenting a point of view and critically evaluating the point of view of others.
Nyack College has tracked the writing skills and critical thinking of students over the last four years. Students were given an assessment of the skills as entering freshmen, second semester sophomores and second semester seniors. The assessment, called the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), “is designed to measure an institution’s contribution, or value added, to the development of higher order skills.”* The CLA also allows comparison to other institutions of higher education.
The results for Nyack College students were reported in three phases. Gains from testing in phase one to two were reported as Above Expected, phase two to three as Near Expected and overall gains from phase one to three as Well Above Expected. In simple terms Nyack College students value added scores were higher than 95% of other institution’s students from the first year to the last.
The response to these results is not one of self-satisfaction on the part of the faculty. New writing intensive courses are being designed in each major. Critical thinking is being encouraged in all courses with college wide faculty training last year. A new focus on critical thinking in each major is taking place over the next several years. Many of the courses have already been taught with a new focus on these skills and many others in the effort to provide a broad based education for all students.
* CLA 2009-2013 Phase 3 Longitudinal Report for Nyack College.
Bennett Schepens, Ph.D.