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Why Assess the General Studies Program?

Just like any academic or co-curricular program on campus, the institution regularly assesses achievement of the learning outcomes that it claims in the General Studies Program.  The General Studies program, including the faculty who teach within it, use the information gained from assessment to improve student learning at MSU Denver.  

The ultimate goal is to make the General Studies Program assessment easy, yet meaningful for faculty, and to enhance student learning in all General Studies courses across campus.  Some of our new student learning outcomes are aspirational and are going to take some brainstorming and effort to achieve.  We look forward to working together as a community to take our courses to the next level. 

The purpose is to learn about student learning in the General Studies program, not to focus on individual faculty, students, or even individual sections of courses.  Data analysis and the conclusions drawn from the data will inform discussions around the areas where the program shines, and areas that could use some reflection, discussion, or improvement. 

For example, one of the new Natural and Physical Science student learning outcomes is, "Evaluate the credibility of scientific information and interpret the impact of its use or misuse in society."  This outcome is so important, but it's also brand new and challenging.  Hypothesis:  students will rate low on this SLO.  Data collection and analysis may conclude that this hypothesis is true.  If it is, think of the neat discussions we could have across the Natural and Physical Science faculty about how we might address this better in our wide variety of courses!

The General Studies Advisory Board has created a new approach to General Studies assessment. 

Group A:  Fall 2019 Training, Spring 2020 Data Collection

Group A Assessment Timeline

Arts and Humanities

  • MUS 1000 Introduction to Music 
  • PHI 1030 Intro to Ethics 
  • PHI 1010 Intro to Philosophy 

Natural and Physical Sciences

  • MTR 1600 Global Climate Change (+Global Diversity)
  • CHE 1100 Principles of Chem 
  • ENV 1200 Intro to Environmental Science 
  • PHY 2311 General Physics I
  • GEL 1150 Physical Oceanography

Social and Behavioral Sciences 

  • GEG 1000 World Regional Geography (+Global Diversity)
  • CHS 1000 Intro to Chicana/o Studies 
  • PSC 1010 American National Government 
  • CJC 1010 Intro to the Criminal Justice System

Written Communication—ENG 3525, ENG 1009/1010, ENG 1020/1021

Oral Communication– A sampling of CAS 1010

Global Diversity-- History courses that are also Global Diversity

Group A part 2:  Fall 2020 Data Collection

Historical-- A sampling of all Historical courses

Quantitative Literacy– MTH 1109/1110/1111, MTH 1112, MTH 1210 (Delayed due to COVID-19)

Natural and Physical Science-- BIO 1080 General Bio I/BIO 1090 Gen Bio Lab I

Group B:  Training begins late Fall 2020, Data Collection Spring 2021

These lists are tentative.

Group B Assessment Timeline

Arts and Humanities Group B

ARTH/HON 1500 Art and Visual Literacy AHUM  
ARTH/HON 1600 World Art I: Art Prior to 1400 AHUM Global
ARTH/HON 1700 World Art II: Art 1400-1900 AHUM Global
CHI 1020 Elementary Chinese II AHUM Global
CHS/ENG 2010 & 2410 Survey of Chicana/o Literature AHUM Multicultural
COMM 2400 Introduction to Rhetoric and Popular Culture AHUM  
COMM/GWS 2010 & 2770 Gender and Communication AHUM  
ENG 1100 Introduction to Literature AHUM  
ENG 2170 Medieval Mythologies AHUM Global
ENG 2460 Introduction to Children's Literature for Non-English Majors AHUM  
ENG 2810 Vampire Films AHUM Global
ENG 2850 International Film AHUM Global
FRE 1020 Elementary French II AHUM Global
GER 1020 Elementary German II AHUM Global
ITA 1020 Elementary Italian II AHUM Global
JPS 1020 Elementary Japanese II AHUM Global
MUS 3000 Musics of America AHUM  
MUS 3020 History of Jazz AHUM Multicultural
MUS 3050 Musics of the World AHUM Global
MUS 3099 The Beatles:  Music and Culture AHUM  
SLHS 3000 Foundations of Disability Studies through Media AHUM  
SPA 1020 Elementary Spanish II AHUM Global
THE 2210 Introduction to Theatre AHUM  
THE 3213 Staging Cultures: Theatre, Drama, and Multiculturalism AHUM



Natural and Physical Science Group B

BIO 1000 Human Biology for Non-Majors NPS
BIO 1030 General Biology for Non-Majors NPS
BIO 1081 General Biology II NPS
BIO 1091 General Biology Laboratory II NPS
CHE 1800 General Chemistry I NPS
CHE 1810 General Chemistry II NPS
GEG 1100 Introduction to Physical Geography NPS
MTR 1400 Weather and Climate NPS
PHY 1000 Introduction to Physics NPS
PHY 2010 College Physics I NPS
PHY 2020 College Physics II NPS
PHY 2030 College Physics I Laboratory NPS
PHY 2040 College Physics II Laboratory NPS
PHY 2308 Stretch General Physics I A NPS
PHY 2309 Stretch General Physics I B NPS
PHY 2321 General Physics I Laboratory NPS
PHY 2331 General Physics II NPS
PHY 2341 General Physics II Laboratory NPS

Oral Communication Group B

ASL/SLHS 1020 & 1620 American Sign Language II Oral Comm
CHI 1010 Elementary Chinese I Oral Comm
COMM/HON 1100 & 1710 Fundamentals of Oral Communication Oral Comm
FRE 1010 Elementary French I Oral Comm
GER 1010 Elementary German I Oral Comm
ITA 1010 Elementary Italian I Oral Comm
JPS 1010 Elementary Japanese I Oral Comm
PHI 1110 Language, Logic & Persuasion Oral Comm
SPA 1010 Elementary Spanish I Oral Comm

Quantitative Literacy Group B

MTH 1080 Mathematics for Liberal Arts Quant Lit
MTH 1081 Mathematics for Liberal Arts with Lab Quant Lit
MTH 1310 Finite Mathematics for the Management and Social Sciences Quant Lit
MTH 1311 Finite Mathematics for the Management and Social Sciences with Lab Quant Lit
MTH 1610 Integrated Mathematics I Quant Lit

Social and Behavioral Science Group B

AAS 1010 Introduction to Africana Studies SBS Multicultural
ANT 2330 Cross-Cultural Communication SBS Multicultural
ANT 3386 Religious Narratives and Culture SBS  
CHS/HON/SWK 3100 Social Justice and Activism in the Chicana/o Community SBS Multicultural
COMM 2200 Introduction to Interpersonal Communication SBS  
COMM 2300 Introduction to Organized Communication SBS  
COMM 3060 Speech and Thought in a Digital Age SBS  
COMM/HON 3000 & 3760 Diversity and Communication in the U.S. SBS Multicultural
ECO 3800 Development Economics SBS Global
ECO/HON 2010 Principles of Macroeconomics SBS  
ECO/HON 2020 Principles of Microeconomics SBS  
EDS 3130 Foundations of Educational Psychology and Philosophy SBS  
GEG 2700 Geographies of Environmental Justice SBS Multicultural
GWS 3930 Theories of Love and Sex SBS Global
GWS/AAS/CHS, GWS owns 2100 Women of Color SBS Multicultural
GWS/ANT 3395 Transnational Genders and Sexualities SBS Global
IND 2810 Technology and Design: Global Perspectives SBS Global
JMP 1000 Introduction to Journalism and Mass Media SBS  
NUT 3100 Body Image:  Concepts & Approaches SBS  
PSC/HON 2230 Introduction to International Relations SBS Global
PSC/HON 1020 & 1023 Comparative Politics SBS  
SLHS 1500 Introduction to Communication Sciences SBS  
SWK 1050 How to Change the World SBS  

Group C:  Training begins late Fall 2021, Data Collection Spring 2022

These lists are tentative.

Group C Assessment Timeline

Arts and Humanities Group C

AAS 3930 African Authors AHUM  
ARTE 2060 The Arts and Creative Thinking AHUM  
ARTH/GWS 2380 Women, Art and Gender Politics AHUM  
ENG 2150 Legends of Troy AHUM  
ENG 2270 Monsters and Monstrosity AHUM  
ENG 2340 Shakespeare and Popular Culture AHUM  
ENG 2505 Rhetoric of War AHUM  
ENG 2512 The Rhetoric of Social Media AHUM  
GWS 3260 Gender, Social Justice and the Personal Narrative AHUM  
GWS 3270 Beauty Cultures AHUM Global
GWS/ANT 2400 Women's Folklore AHUM  
HON 2750 History of the Self AHUM  
JMP 1010 Critical Thinking through 21st Century Media AHUM  
LING 2011 Origins of English Words AHUM  
MUS 1050 History of Rock and Roll AHUM  
MUS 3010 History of Western Classical Music AHUM  
MUS 3015 Global Pop AHUM Global
MUS 4000 Musics of Latin America AHUM Global
MUS 4010 From Blues to Hip Hop: African American Musical Heritage AHUM Multicultural
PHI 1040 Introduction to Eastern Religions AHUM Global
PHI 1050 Introduction to Western Religions AHUM  
PHI 2040 Philosophy of Religion AHUM  
PHI 3000 History of Ancient Philosophy AHUM  
PHI 3020 History of Modern Philosophy AHUM  
PHI 3360 Business Ethics AHUM  
PHI 3370 Computers, Ethics, and Society AHUM  

Natural and Physical Science Group C

ANT 1010 Introduction to Biological Anthropology NPS Global
AST 3040 Modern Cosmology NPS  
CET/MET/EET 1040 Introduction to Engineering NPS  
CHE 1010 Chemistry and Society NPS  
GEG 1910 Global Water Concerns NPS Global
GEL 1010 Physical Geology NPS  
GEL  1020 Geology of Colorado NPS  
HON 2800 Scientific Revolutions NPS  
MTR 3500 Hazardous Weather NPS  
NUT/HON 2040 Introduction to Nutrition NPS  
SCI 2600 Integrated Biology and Earth Science NPS  
SCI 2610 Integrated Physical and Chemical Sciences NPS  

Social and Behavioral Science Group C

ANT/HIS 3650 100,000 Years of War SBS Global
ANT/HON 1310 & 1311 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology SBS Global
ANT/NUT 3375 Food Cultures SBS Global
ANT/PSC 3379 Middle Eastern Cultures SBS Global
BUS 3010 Global Business Experience SBS Global
CET/HON 3120 Engineering Economy SBS  
EDS 1001 Educational (In)Equality in the 21st Century SBS Multicultural
EDS 3150 Issues in Multicultural Education in Urban Secondary Schools SBS Multicultural
GEG 1700 Principles of Sustainability SBS  
GEG 2020 Geography of Colorado SBS  
GEG  1300 Introduction to Human Geography SBS Global
GWS 1001 Introduction to Gender, Women, and Sexualities Studies SBS  
GWS 1200 Multicultural Study of Sexualities and Genders SBS Multicultural
GWS 1550 Introduction to Transgender Studies SBS  
HCM 2010 Global Health Systems SBS Global
HON 2770 Dynamics of Change SBS  
HON 2850 Technology and Society SBS  
HSP 1010 Introduction to Human Services SBS  
ITP 2500 Complementary and Alternative Medical Therapies SBS  
ITP 3000 Men's Health SBS  
ITP/HON 1500 Dynamics of Health SBS  
MKT 2010 Marketing Around the Globe SBS Global
NUT 3350 Global Nutrition and Health SBS Global
PSC 2240 Global Challenges in the Twenty-First Century SBS Global
PSY 1001 Introductory Psychology SBS  
PSY 1800 Developmental Educational Psychology SBS  
RECR 2010 Play Across Cultures SBS Global
RECR/SM 2730 Sport in Society SBS  
SOC 1010 Introduction to Sociology SBS  
SOC 1020 Globalization - The Transformation of Social Worlds SBS Global
SOC 1080 Love and Family in East Asia SBS Global
SWK 1010 Introduction to Social Work SBS  
SWK 1600 Community Engagement and Civic Responsibility SBS  
TTM 3700 Global Tourism SBS Global

Updated May 6, 2020

Assessment Process

Assessment Process Flow chart

Please note, the following steps are for Arts and Humanities, Social and Behavioral Science, and Natural and Physical Science categories.  The remaining categories may use a different method due to the volume of students in those categories.  Rubrics for all categories can be found below. 

Step 1:  Identify Key Assignment(s) that align with student learning outcomes in the General Studies category

  • All courses undergoing re-designation addressed this in their course proposal in Curriculog under #4 and attached an example in the files.
  • Training workshops will be available to help with this.

Step 2:  Assign and Collect Student Work

  • Faculty teach their course and scaffold the key assignment as they normally would, assign their key assignment to their students and wait for submissions to come in.
  • Both digital or hard copies will work.
  • Last time we collected key assignments/artifacts so that external assessors could rate the student work.  For this round, it’s okay for the professor teaching the course to rate the work.  This means artifacts do not need to be formally collected and given to anyone.  The faculty member just needs to have it long enough to apply the assessment rubric.  Remember, this process is for Arts and Humanities, Social and Behavioral Science, and Natural and Physical Science categories only.  

Step 3:  Assess Key Assignments by applying the category rubric

  • Faculty will be asked to apply General Studies category rubrics to all students’ key assignment(s) in their course.
  • Rubrics were built for growth throughout the undergraduate experience, so we are expecting General Studies students will mostly get 1’s and 2’s (introductory and developing).  0's are assigned in cases where no evidence is provided in the artifact by the student.
  • Training workshops will be available to help with this and to develop inter-rater reliability.  

Step 4:  Report Findings to General Studies Program by handing in an Excel file or Word document

  • Add up how many students achieved a 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 on the rubric and report these totals in the spreadsheet or document.
  • Add any comments you have.  You might reflect on anything related to the data collection.  Perhaps you have a comment about patterns you found with the students, reasons why students landed where they did, the ability of the assignment to be used against this rubric, or comments on the rubric are welcome.
  • Email this document to the Academic Effectiveness Data Manager, Bev Andes: . 

Step 5:  Data Analysis and Sharing of Findings

  • The General Studies Program leads will aggregate and analyze the data.
  • Conclusions will be shared with faculty teaching in General Studies and reports will also be shared with leadership and accrediting bodies.


A proposed policy helps faculty understand how their data will be used.  This policy should be in place by spring 2020, but the General Studies program will follow the following draft policy regardless of approval status.  

Policy Draft

Purpose:  The goal is to collect authentic data that leads to the enhancement of student learning in General Studies courses. This policy will ensure the privacy and ethical use of General Studies assessment data to encourage widespread participation and accurate reporting.

Policy Statement:  Faculty who teach General Studies designated courses may be asked to rate artifacts of their own students in a General Studies course to measure student learning as part of the assessment process.  Once individual course data is reported by General Studies instructors to the Office of Academic Effectiveness, the only people with access to individual course section data will be the Academic Effectiveness Data Manager, the AVP of Academic Effectiveness, the Director of General Studies, and the AVP of Curriculum and Policy. The following people will not have access to individual course section data:  faculty not teaching the course section, chairs, other directors, associate deans, deans, the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, the Provost, the President, the Board of Trustees, or anyone involved in performance evaluation and retention, tenure, and promotion decisions.

General Studies assessment data may be used to improve student learning in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Aggregated data will be used to reflect on how the General Studies program as a whole is serving students. This type of data will be reported to accrediting bodies. 
  • Conclusions drawn from aggregated data will be used to prompt faculty reflections on student learning and discussions within the General Studies Categories. This type of data by General Studies category will also be reported to accrediting bodies. 
  • Academic programs or departments may use data to show growth from General Studies through the major. They may use this data in their program assessment, review, and accreditation.  If the sample size is large enough to not enable identifying individuals, reports can be used to focus on learning in individual courses.  These reports will be run by the Office of Academic Effectiveness when asked, but only reports that maintain faculty and student anonymity will be shared with programs.
  • If data is collected in a way that identifies the students, data may be disaggregated by student demographic or subgroup, depending on population size, with the intention of informing student learning.

General Studies assessment data may not be used in any way that is either punitive or rewarding for individual faculty. In contrast to Student Rating of Instruction (SRI) scores, General Studies assessment data shall not be directly used in tenure/promotion materials.  Although Faculty will know how their students performed as well as what the aggregated data looks like, they shall not discuss ratings of their sections in any tenure/promotion materials.  In these materials, faculty are encouraged to reflect on how they implemented teaching strategies in their courses to improve student learning, but they shall not compare their numbers to any aggregate numbers made available. If such information is included, it shall be ignored at every level of review. If the Director of General Studies is also faculty, they shall recuse themselves from any Retention, Tenure, Promotion (RTP) or post-tenure review (PTR) committees. 


  1. Faculty assess student learning in their own courses by applying a rubric to key assignment(s) submitted by their students.
  2. The data is reported to the Data Manager in the Office of Academic Effectiveness.
  3. The Data Manager, AVP of Academic Effectiveness, or the Director of General Studies run reports to aggregate the data and analyze the data.
  4. Faculty are invited to reflect on the aggregated data by category and implement any pedagogical changes they’d like before collecting more data.
  5. When appropriate, aggregated data is reported to accrediting bodies. If asked, the Data Manager, with the help of others in the Office of Academic Effectiveness, may create reports for individual programs or courses, as long as they can maintain faculty and student anonymity.

Updated 10/29/19


Step 6:  Discussion and Reflection on findings to enhance student learning in the General Studies Program

  • General Studies program leads will reach out to faculty teaching in the program to discuss findings and reflect on things that went well and areas that need more attention.

Faculty teaching the courses selected for General Studies data collection will be invited to training workshops to help them choose their key assignment(s), develop inter-rater reliability by practicing with the rubric, and familiarize faculty with how to collect and report data.  Faculty will be paid for workshops and assessment.  Please email Keah to RSVP or with any questions.  

Past Workshops

Arts and Humanities Workshop #2, Choose one:

Workshop AHUM 2A:  Monday, March 2, 3:30-4:45 (Central Classroom 303A, Philosophy Conference Room)

Workshop AHUM 2B:  Thursday, March 5, 11:00-12:15 (Central Classroom 210, History Conference Room)

Workshop AHUM 2C:  Friday, March 6th, 12:30-1:45 (Central Classroom 303A, Philosophy Conference Room)

Workshop AHUM 2D:  Thursday, April 30th, 9:30-10:45 (Microsoft Teams)

Workshop AHUM 2E:  Friday, May 1st, 11:00-12:15 (Microsoft Teams)

Social and Behavioral Science Workshop #2, Choose one:

Workshop SBS 2A:  Tuesday, March 10th at 12:30-1:45 (Science 2049)

Workshop SBS 2B:  Wednesday, March 11th at 2:00-3:15 (Science 2049)

Workshop SBS 2C:  Friday, March 13 at 11:00-12:15 (Central 210 History Conference Room)

Workshop SBS 2D:  Tuesday, April 28th at 2:00-3:15 (Microsoft Teams)

Workshop SBS 2E:  Wednesday, April 30th at 11:00-12:15 (Microsoft Teams)

Workshop SBS 2F:  Friday, May 1, at 12:30-1:45 (Microsoft Teams)

Natural and Physical Science Workshop #2, Choose one:

Workshop NPS 2B:  Wednesday, March 11, 10:00-11:15 in Science 2049 (EAS Conference room)

Arts and Humanities Workshop #1, Choose one:
Workshop AHUM 1A: Friday, December 6, 10:00-12:00 (West Classroom 133, the CPS conference room)
Workshop AHUM 1B: Monday, December 9th, 2:00-4:00 (Central 103)
Workshop AHUM 1C: Tuesday, December 10th, 11:00-1:00 (Central 303A, Philosophy conference room)
Workshop AHUM 1D: Wednesday, January 15th 1:00-3:00 (Science 2005)

Natural and Physical Science Workshop #1, Choose one:
Workshop NPS 1A: Monday, December 9th, 2:00-4:00 (Central 312, the CLAS conference room)
Workshop NPS 1B: Tuesday, December 10th, 11:00-1:00 (West Classroom 266, Theatre conference room)
Workshop NPS 1C: Wednesday, December 11th, 9:30-11:30 (Central 312, the CLAS conference room)
Workshop NPS 1D: Wednesday, January 15th 10:00-12:00 (Science 2005)

Social and Behavioral Science Workshop #1, Choose one:
Workshop SBS 1A: Monday, December 9th, 11:00-1:00 (Central 210)
Workshop SBS 1B: Tuesday, December 10th, 2:00-4:00 (Central 210)
Workshop SBS 1C: Wednesday, December 11th, 9:00-11:00 (Boulder Creek building, room 132R, the GITA conference room)
Workshop SBS 1D: Thursday, January 16th, 1:00-3:00 (Science 2005)

Global Diversity Workshop #1, Choose one:

Workshop GD 1A: Tuesday, December 10th, 11:00-1:00 in Science 2049 (EAS conference room)

Workshop GD 1B: Wednesday, December 11th, 12:30-2:30 in Science 2049 (EAS conference room)

Updated 5/6/20

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