Appendix A


Assessment Summary of the General Education Initiative



Acknowledging the need for formative and summative assessment throughout the three-year pilot program, Undergraduate Studies officials have created a conceptual model and assessment plan for General Education Initiatives. The Conceptual Model of UD General Education Assessment illustrates the relationship between the ten general education goals and the academic programs created that accomplish these goals. Our assessment plan, further detailed to include other facets in the future, includes both direct and indirect measures of student outcomes.


The information below summarizes what we have learned through the pilot period assessment. A full list of assessment reports is located on the Gen Ed website.


The three-year pilot period has enabled us to gain some insights, but since assessment is seen as an ongoing cycle, several components identified as important that should be included in recommendations for next year and beyond.


Between 2000 and 2003, the impact of General Education was assessed by asking a variety of questions, mostly through survey instruments.



  • What do students think about LIFE?
  • What do faculty contact think about LIFE?
  • What do peer mentors think about LIFE?
  • What direct evidence do we have about the effects of LIFE on students?
    • GPA analyses
    • UNIV101 final projects
    • Other evidence from UNIV101 student work


  • What do students think about Pathways courses?
  • What do faculty members think about Pathways courses?
  • What direct evidence do we have about the effects of Pathways on students?
    • Course evaluations related to Gen Ed goals
    • Writing prompts
    • Grade distributions

Capstone and other Discovery-Based Learning

  • How many capstone experiences are currently available for undergrad students?
  • How many discovery-based learning experiences are currently available?





Since the inception of the LIFE program in the Fall 2000, 655 first year students have participated in the Learning: Integrated Freshman Experience Program (LIFE). The program has grown each year. In Fall 2000 there were 123 students in 11 clusters; in Fall 2001 there were 178 students in 17 clusters; and in Fall 2002 there were 207 students in 22 clusters. LIFE also included Spring 2001 with 10 clusters and 49 students; Spring 2002 with 7 clusters and 49 students; a Winter 2002 with 1 cluster and 11 students; Winter 2003 with 1 cluster and 17 students; and Spring 2003 with 3 clusters and 21 students. There are 36 clusters planned for Fall 2003 and 2 clusters for Winter 2004. Table 1 below shows demographic data for all three cohorts combined.



Table 1. Demographic and Academic Characteristics of 2000, 2001, and 2002 LIFE and Non-LIFE Students


          LIFE Students

           (N = 526)

Non-LIFE Students*

( N = 8143)


329 (63%)

4881 (60%)


197 (37%)

3262 (40%)

Black or African American

46 (8%)

409 (5%)

Other Ethnic Minority

51 (11%)

643 (8%)


429 (81%)

7091 (87%)

Mean SAT Total



Mean PGI




* excludes Honors students

I. What do students think about LIFE?


A.     LIFE Student Evaluations


Near the end of each fall term, LIFE students were asked to complete a 70-item questionnaire to evaluate their satisfaction and perceived gains from the program.  The alpha reliability coefficient for the total set of 73 items was .98, indicating that 98% of the variants in the scores was due to true, accurate measurement.


Across all three years, student responses have been overwhelmingly positive. For example, when asked if the program enhanced their academic and social abilities, LIFE students said yes. In fall 2002, 85% of those responding to the survey said they enhanced their ability to collaborate with others, 75% said the program helped them make connections between their courses and the world, and 71% said they took initiative to get answers to questions.


As a program that seeks to provide academic and psychosocial transitions into the college environment, students perceived it to be a success. The majority of students said that the LIFE program helped them acquire skills that will prepare them for future courses, clarified the major they had or hoped to have, and helped them feel like they belonged in classes as well as the UD community. The vast majority of LIFE students were also very strong in their support of their living-learning community in the residence halls. They reported that living in close proximity to other students in their cluster helped them form study groups, feel connected to peers, and feel like they belong at UD.


Although students have reported their experiences in the LIFE program to be positive, their responses highlight some areas that could be improved. The majority of LIFE respondents did not indicate that the program had enhanced their abilities in writing or using the computer, and only about half said that the UNIV101 seminar helped them learn how to approach and solve problems. Perhaps students believe their skills are not in need of improvement, or perhaps the program did not meet these needs.


For additional information, please see:

LIFE Student Evaluation Summary – Fall 2002


LIFE Student Evaluation Summary – Fall 2001 2001_LIFE.doc


LIFE Evaluation Survey Item Comparison-Fall 2000 and 2001


LIFE Needs Assessment Survey Summary-Fall 2002


LIFE Needs Assessment Survey Summary-Fall 2001


LIFE student representative comments selected from a full set of comments to try to represent a diversity of views.


  • The LIFE Program gave me an immediate support system and set of friends.
  • LIFE made me more familiar with my major.
  • LIFE is a great way to make the UD campus seem smaller and friendlier.
  • LIFE made for an easier transition from high school to college.
  • LIFE helped me to better study for exams and quizzes.
  • Enrolling in LIFE was the best decision I could have made. It really made me feel at home at UD and I formed friendships. It also allowed me to participate in study groups.
  • The study groups prepared me for Economics and I never would have felt confident going into the exam without them.
  • LIFE gives you a unique opportunity to spend your first semester in classes with people you live with and become a small community. It also gives you the chance to get to know your professors on a different level.
  • I felt like I connected with my faculty contact on a personal level. She was a very good person to talk to when I needed help.
  • I was able to get to know the professors outside of the classroom through the field trips and their participation in our cluster. They also got to know us better. I felt more comfortable approaching the professors and asking for their help. It creates a more open relationship.
  • My professors and TAs know me by name and they are always happy to help me out. Some even thank me for coming to office hours. I feel that I am unique from other students because I go the extra step.
  • Our field trip opened up my eyes to different ways of living.
  • LIFE helped me adjust to college and meet people.
  • LIFE helped me develop a closer relationship with students in my field of interest.
  • It really helped to live with students that I had class with. I learned how to study by working with my floor mates.
  • Living with other people in my classes helped me to attend class and study for tests.
  • My peer mentor was like having an older sibling who knew all the steps because they had already been through it.
  • My peer mentor was someone I could turn to with questions about art or the university in general. She helped me feel less lost in such a large school. I knew that if I needed her help, she would be there.
  • I felt that I had a companion in my peer mentor and someone to talk with if I needed it. I felt free to talk to her and that helped the transition a lot.


  1. Continuing LIFE in the Spring Semester


One unexpected outcome of the LIFE program was the interest by a subset of students to continue their participation with LIFE in the spring. In the spring 2002, 49 students continued and in spring 2003, 21 continued their LIFE activities. Program coordinators thought it would be helpful to examine why some students chose to continue in the spring while others did not, and so a short web-based survey was sent in spring 2003 to all Fall 2001 and Fall 2002 LIFE students.


From the 79 respondents, we learned that the main reasons why students wanted to continue for another semester was due to the fun and friendly atmosphere as well as the opportunity to work further on their final group project. Some of these students who remained in LIFE in the spring believed that they continued to build strong friendships and the additional semester gave them the opportunity to learn more about UD and the campus community. Of those respondents who chose to not continue in the spring, some believed they had not received high value in the fall, and some others said they could not fit the UNIV102 or extra courses into their spring schedule. In addition, some others said that they believed they had adequately developed friendships and gained understanding of the campus in the fall, and thus did not see the need for their involvement beyond one semester.


For additional information, please see:

LIFE Web Survey to Fall 2001 and 2002 LIFE Students 2001-02_LIFE_Students.doc


C.     Comparison of Needs and Skills Received


Program coordinators also thought it would be valuable to examine the comparison between what students perceived as their academic needs prior to matriculation and those skills they believed they received during their first semester. To that end, a comparison was made between responses to the UD Student Needs Assessment Survey and responses to the end of semester LIFE Evaluation. In most cases, the questions were not worded exactly the same, thus the comparisons made are done with great caution and some subjective decisions about the similarity between questions. These comparisons, however, can provide some insight into students’ perceived gains during their first fall semester and thus an indicator of the value of the LIFE program.


For both the Fall 2001 and Fall 2002 cohorts, students’ reported gain in academic and psychosocial skills exceeded their reported need. For example, the F02 mean score for perceived need to ‘budget time more efficiently was 2.32 (1=no need; 4=high need), while the mean score for skills enhanced during the fall semester to ‘budget my time more efficiently’ was 2.81. The higher mean score indicates that, as a group, respondents received slightly more enhancement in time management skills than what they thought they needed prior to beginning the fall semester.  A series of comparison charts with greater detail are shown in both reports at the Gen Ed evaluation report website.


For additional information, please see:

LIFE Comparison of Perceived Needs with Skills Enhanced-Fall 2002


LIFE Comparison of Perceived Needs with Skills Enhanced-Fall 2001


II. What do Faculty Contacts think about LIFE?


Based on responses from LIFE Faculty Contact survey completed in December 2002 as well as several breakfast and luncheon meetings over the past two years, faculty members who become involved with the LIFE program do so because they are rewarded by their interactions with students. The greatest challenge for their involvement is time. When asked to describe how the LIFE program affected students, many faculty perceived students to be gaining important interdisciplinary skills through hands-on assignments, demonstrating leadership skills, and having the opportunity to build trust and teamwork among peers.


LIFE faculty contacts believed strongly that peer mentors were an important asset, but some believed that a closer match between the peer mentor’s discipline and the cluster were important. When asked what resources would make LIFE smoother, three faculty respondents said that no additional resources were needed, but several others commented on the need for additional funds that could be used for field trips and guest speakers.


For additional information, please see:

LIFE Faculty Contact Survey Summary-January 2003


Faculty Contacts representative comments selected from a full set of comments to try to represent a diversity of views.


  • It was very rewarding to motivate, inspire, and organize the freshmen.
  • I enjoyed interacting closely with a wide variety of new students and the interdisciplinary nature of the work.
  • Of my class of mostly juniors and seniors, one of the LIFE students was recognized for having the best leadership portfolio and another LIFE student was one of three students in the class to give the final project presentation to outside guests.
  • My peer mentor was incredible. She continually worked to motivate the kids and present good classes.


III. What do Peer Mentors think about LIFE?


Based on responses from the Fall 2001 and Fall 2002 Peer Mentor Surveys, overall, peer mentors reported high satisfaction with their participation in and perceived value of LIFE to undergraduate students. Based on the Fall 2001 and Fall 2002 Peer Mentor Surveys, the overwhelming majority of respondents said they felt prepared and received adequate resources to teach the UNIV101 course. Peer mentors believed that freshmen gained important knowledge about the campus and an opportunity to develop peer friendships. In addition, peer mentors reported that they too gained important skills in becoming an effective leader and communicator.


Although their overall comments were more positive than negative, the two areas that appear to merit attention are the peer mentors’ relationship with the cluster faculty contact and residence hall assistant (RA). Some peer mentors recommended that faculty mentors be more actively involved in the cluster, complementing the role of the peer mentor in the UNIV101 course. The majority of peer mentor respondents also commented on their interactions (or lack thereof) with residence hall assistants. Respondents to both surveys commented on the sometimes duplication of tasks between the PM and RA or simply confusion about the role of PM versus RA. Based on these comments, discussions of the role of the peer mentor and the resident assistant may improve the quality of the LIFE program for students and peer mentors.


For additional information, please see:

LIFE Peer Mentor Survey-Fall 2002


LIFE Peer Mentor Survey-Fall 2001 2001_Peer_Mentor_Survey.doc


Peer Mentor representative comments selected from a full set of comments to try to represent a diversity of views.


  • I have gained a sense of leadership from being a peer mentor. I have also learned how to be more organized and well prepared.
  • The students’ enthusiasm and cooperation organizing the final project was really rewarding. They were really interested in what we were doing and it showed.
  • LIFE allowed me to help the students and teach them new things about UD that they probably would not have learned as a freshman without the LIFE Program. I really liked answering their questions and solving their problems.
  • As a peer mentor, I gained confidence in my leadership abilities (motivational skills, social skills, responsibility/commitment) and the enjoyment of developing and helping to develop skills in others that will make them more successful in whatever they do.
  • It was rewarding to see a student get really excited about our subject matter.
  • I felt like I was actually able to make a difference in one student’s life in that I helped her feel more comfortable with her major.
  • Being a peer mentor helped me to learn to be more of a leader and how to deal with conflict and how to promote a positive classroom setting.
  • I learned about teaching and leadership and developed better interpersonal skills.
  • The most rewarding experience was having my students look up to me for advice and being able to guide them.
  • Our field trip was very rewarding – it was a great success and I felt like our cluster bonded over the day and really enjoyed being with the faculty contact.
  • I enjoyed seeing the students gain confidence and produce a final project with a real dedication to our theme.
  • I liked having a forum to challenge students in their thinking and pass on some University information.


IV. What evidence do we have about the effects of LIFE on students?


  1. Based on comparisons of SAT and grade point averages (GPA)


Students who choose to participate in the LIFE program are not significantly different from other non-LIFE, non-Honors freshmen. In the fall 2000 and fall 2001 groups, GPAs did not differ significantly, although LIFE students earned a slightly higher GPA. End of first and second term GPAs for the  cohort, however were significantly higher for those students who participated in LIFE. This increase may indicate that as the LIFE program has become more solidified, students are netting measurable gains in academic success that may be due in part to the LIFE program.



Fall 2000 cohort


Fall 2001 cohort


Fall 2002 cohort



LIFE (n=119)

Non-LIFE (n=2583)

LIFE (n=200)

Non-LIFE (n=2712)

LIFE (n=207)

Non-LIFE (n=2848)

Mean SAT














Fall 00 gpa (eot)







Spring 2001gpa (eot)







Fall 2001 gpa (eot)







Spring 2002 gpa (eot)







 gpa (eot)







Spring 2003 gpa (eot,cum)








* Significant difference between LIFE and non-LIFE students. Analyses above omit students with gpa=0.0.


For additional information, please see:

Demographic and Academic Characteristics of Fall 2000, 2001, and 2002 First Year Students


LIFE Comparison of GPA for LIFE vs. Non-LIFE Students- Spring 2002



B.     UNIV101 final projects


LIFE students displayed their final projects at the Fall 2001 and Fall 2002 LIFE Fest events. The final project is a culminating group project that enables students to synthesize work they have been addressing in the UNIV101 course as well as its connections to the other cluster courses. In Fall 2002, a group of UD faculty and staff served as judges to evaluate the final projects.


C.     Open-ended comments from student evaluations


The vast majority of LIFE students who included open comments on their end of Fall 2002 semester evaluation said they would recommend the LIFE program to other students. Although a few (approximately 6-8 each year) students said they did not like nor benefit from living in the same room with another LIFE student, the majority of respondents noted the immediate value of building relationships with other students and having the opportunity to study and attend class with the same group of students in their cluster. When asked what UNIV101 activities built upon their learning, many respondents mentioned the final cluster project, guest speakers, and field trips. LIFE students also said they valued and perceived benefit from the living-learning environment in which they studied and socialized with a group of peers. The tight knit living-learning communities allowed students a level of comfort in which they could meet professors, ask each other questions, and in general, raise their level of academic self-concept that helped guide them in their first year success.


For additional information, please see:

LIFE Student Evaluation Summary-Fall 2002


LIFE Student Evaluation Summary-Fall 2001 2001_LIFE.doc





A total of 22 pathways courses have been offered during the past three years with a number being offered more than once for a total of 39 Pathway course offerings. The total enrollment of these 39 courses has been 2200 students (1032 freshmen and 1168 non-freshmen). Pathways courses are high quality and satisfy Goals 1, 2, 3, and 6 of General Education. The biggest difficulty with the growth of Pathways courses has been developing enough capacity within department resources so that these courses can be a numerically significant component of the GEI. Many Pathways courses, developed with a significant investment of faculty time, have only been offered for one semester.


I. What do students think about Pathways courses?


To examine student perceptions of their Pathways course, a 13-item course evaluation was developed in Fall 2001 that specifically addressed four of the General Education goals. Alpha coefficient for internal reliability of the instrument was .931, indicating that 93% of the variants in the scores was due to true, accurate measurement.


Overall, students have reported positive marks for the Pathways courses. Student scores have not varied widely in the four semesters that Pathways evaluations have been used, thus the table below provides an example of student responses.


While the majority of students in Fall 2002 Pathways courses agree that the course has helped them strengthen skills, there were approximately 1/3 of the students who do not agree. For example, 43% of the f02 students did not believe that the course strengthened their written communication skills, and 48% did not believe that the Pathways course helped them determine future courses to take, an important goal of the Pathways program.


In both the multiple choice and open-ended responses, the vast majority of students said that their Pathways course enabled them to work with others in small groups. The majority of students benefited from small group work and discussion, saying that it helped them think about ideas from a different perspective, become more skilled in problem solving, express ideas, and reinforced time management skills.

Although the majority of students expressed positive remarks about their Pathways course, there were a small number of students who expressed dissatisfaction with the course. While there were comments in direct contradiction, a few students did not find the course to be intellectually interesting, too easy, or requiring too much writing. One question asked students, ‘This course is designated as a Pathways course. For you, what does this course lead to, or what is it a pathway to?’ 


Responses to this question revealed that some students received great value for the course—gaining more interest in the subject, a better understanding of the world, how material in this course relates to other information being learned. However, based on comments from other students, it appears that some students did not understand the intention of the Pathways course. One comment included by about 29 students was ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t know what Pathways means.’  


Table 1

Responses to Fall 2002 Pathways Evaluation

                                                                                                                Percent Agree/   Percent Disagree/

                                                                                                                Strongly Agree  Strongly Disagree

Gen Ed Goal #1

The course strengthened my oral communication                                         56.8                         33.5

The course strengthened my written communication                                    56.8                         43.2

Strengthened my information technology                                                       64.0                         36.0

Gen Ed Goal #2

Helped me think about issues & problems                                                      80.1                         19.9

Helped me integrate ideas                                                                                  77.8                         22.2

Helped me see connections across disciplines                                               63.7                         36.3

Gen Ed Goal #3

Enabled work with students in groups                                                             89.3                         10.7

Format encouraged participation                                                                      61.1                         38.9

Gen Ed Goal #6

I now have better idea of future courses                                                         52.1                         47.9

Made me aware of acad. opportunities outside class                                    42.7                         57.3

Out-of-class activities enhanced learning                                                       70.8                         29.2

I used class info in other conversations                                                          57.1                         42.9

I’m now interested in taking related courses                                                   59.0                         41.0


For additional information, please see:

Pathways Course Evaluation Summary-Fall 2002


Pathways Course Evaluation Summary-Fall 2001


Pathways Report on Writing Assessment-Spring 2003


Pathway student representative comments selected from a full set of comments to try to represent a diversity of views.


·        The course was a lot more interactive and interesting with more work given and more material covered.

·        A different learning style and not just a straight boring lecture. More personal.

·        The workload made the class less interesting.

·        This class was more writing intensive and more detailed. My professor was helpful since it was more work.

·        Lot of group work instead of books and tests. More interaction between my peers.

·        This course helped more with presentations instead of just learning. I found the class to be more interesting and enjoyable. More active.

·        You have to do something with the info in this class. A lot more busy work but more interaction. It was not as in depth as other classes.

·        This class focused on what I did outside of class.

·        It gives a different viewpoint for the same subject. It was better to get more than one perspective. It incorporates many areas into one.

·        The class helped me get a better understanding of what I want to do. It provided a sense of the world around me.

·        It helped me to connect subjects to one another.

·        I’ve become more comfortable in front of students. Also a better understanding of how to work with others.


II. What do faculty think about Pathways courses?


In Fall 2002, all UD faculty who had taught a Pathways course since 2000 were sent a short eight-item questionnaire to examine their perceptions of the Pathways program. Ten out thirty eight faculty members responded and were, overall, enthusiastic about their involvement. Many said that they themselves as well as the students received benefit from the program. Respondents said they were rewarded by working with faculty peers and having the opportunity to teach interdisciplinary courses.


Respondents believed that students benefited from learning to work with others, receiving a variety of learning experiences, and seeing connections between subject material and how it relates to other topics in the real world. Two major barriers related to faculty members’ time and the need to balance commitments to other courses in their department. Several respondents suggested that department chairs (and perhaps deans) be included in upcoming discussions to discern how Pathways courses can be offered in conjunction with other department requirements.


For additional information, please see:

Pathways Course Faculty Survey-Fall 2002


Pathways faculty representative comments selected from a full set of comments to try to represent a diversity of views.


  • Teaching a Pathways course allows for an innovative and unorthodox style, trying new ideas, especially in-class writing assignments.
  • I enjoyed the team approach to teaching, working with peers, many of whom share common instructional goals.
  • Students seemed to benefit from small group interactions, different learning beyond lectures and note taking. The topics stretched their minds with enthusiasm to apply the course material to other topics.
  • Pathways courses are very different from regular courses; take much more time and energy, require more active thinking for students and require a higher level of commitment.
  • First semester freshman students may not cognitively or psychosocially be ready to handle group dynamics and internal examination of their personal ideologies. There were more upper level students enrolled than freshmen, about 1/3 freshmen.
  • Students in a Pathways course gained communication skills since group work required them to orally present information and ideas. Their ability to communication in various ways was strikingly different.
  • Group work meant the student had to grapple with definitions in group settings and learned how to distribute the workload among group members.
  • Learning about topics outside my expertise was very time consuming along with the challenge of integrating the textbook with class discussion. The writing component added to making time outside of class instruction. Drop the course portfolio requirement.
  • Question of the workload varies among departments. Department needs have to be addressed. If I’m not getting full credit why teach it? I was unsuccessful at finding another co-instructor to assist.
  • Students were more likely to seek out additional reference materials on their own. It was a challenge to get students to accept work in class as more than busy work.



Capstone Courses


In February 2003 an electronic survey was sent to all department chairs and program directors to query the department/program’s current use of capstone courses. Officials from 35 departments responded to the survey, seven of which have more than one program within that department. The table below shows that, of the departments that responded to the survey, which offer capstone courses and the percentage of majors that are required to enroll in a capstone experience.


There are a variety of activities included in the capstone courses. The three most frequent activities included in capstone courses were seminar format, thesis or other substantial writing assignment, and information on career preparation (all at 44%). Thirty-seven percent of the respondents said that an individual or team oral presentation was also part of this experience. Twenty-seven percent said that field experience was a component while 10 percent said some of their students participated in educational travel as part of their capstone experience. Respondents to this survey were also asked to rank a series of educational goals that were included in their capstone course. The rankings were somewhat distributed across many goals, but the most goal ranked highest was ‘fostering integration and synthesis within the major.”  A more detailed summary of the capstone survey can be reviewed: Capstone Course Survey-Spring 2003.


This table represents the 34 departments and programs which responded to the survey and does not include all the departments and programs of the University.

Departments that offer one
                Percent majors           Departments that

or more capstone courses:                 who enroll:                  do not offer capstone:

Anthropology                                                     100                  Art History

Art Conservation                                                100                  Biology

Business Administration                                      100                  Economics

Chemistry                                                         75*                  Food & Res Economics

Civil Engineering                                                100                  Museum Studies

Computer Info Sci                                              100                  Psychology

Curatorial Apprentice              program w/out majors                 

Disability Studies (HEPP)                                   100

Education                                                          100

Engineering Technology                                      100

English                                                              100

Entomology                                                        0**

Geography                                                          75

Geology                                                              80

Health, Exercise Science                                     90

History                                                              100

Honors                                                              100

Hotel, Rest, Instit. Mgmt                                     100

Legal Studies                                                     100

Mechanical Engineering                                      100

Medical Technology                                           100

Music                                                                100

Philosophy                                                         100

Plant & Soil Sciences                                          50

Political Science                                                 100

Sociology                                                           100

Theatre                                                             100

Women’s Studies                                               100


* some percentages are an average based on differential percentages for two or more programs in one department

** course offered but only 2 students signed up.


For additional information, please see:





Based on the student, faculty, and support staff comments as well as some limited direct measures of student outcomes, data shared above (additional detailed information online indicates overall support and success of the UD General Education pilot program from 2000-2003. Information gathered over the past three years will be incorporated in recommendations currently being drafted that will be included in the full report on the pilot program submitted to the Faculty Senate in September 2003.