Critical Thinking & Written Communication Capabilities of ...

Critical Thinking & Written Communication Capabilities of ...

Written Communication & Critical Thinking Capabilities of College of Business Undergraduates Introduction Are undergraduates in the Belk College of Business developing the written communication skills & critical thinking skills we want to see students graduate UNCC with? Evidence-based evaluation using multiple data sources: Direct sources: Embedded assessments in various core courses ETS Heighten exams Indirect sources: Senior Survey NSSE

ETS HEIghten Written Communication Exam HEIghten Written communication exam is 2 parts: Part 1: Construct a persuasive response adopting a stance on a particular claim Part 2: Two passages presented, multiple choice questions on each - scored via proprietary algorithm Scores presented a 150 - 180 point scale. Participants Undergrads from COB courses sat for HEIghten WC exam in Spring 2016. Excluded participants >30 yrs, GPA < 1.0, Current Hrs = 0 Freshmen (n = 115) 69 male 18 transfer students GPA: M: 3.02 SD: 0.60 43 Deans or Chancellors List Age: M: 19.4 SD: 0.81

Majors: Pre-Business Admin (89), Pre-Account (18), Pre-Econ (7) Seniors (n = 98) 52 male 0 transfer students GPA: M: 3.09 SD: 0.36 27 Deans or Chancellors List Age: M: 22.6 SD: 1.4 Majors: Marketing (51), Management (43), other COB (4) Sample Institutional Score Report from ETS UNCC COB Seniors

2,162 students who have taken exam at 27 institutions The histograms show the distribution of individual students scaled scores within the Reporting Group (UNCC) and the Comparison Group (All students, all institutions). No info is provided about which institutions are in the Comparison group, and there is no ability yet to self-select a peer comparison group. Evidence from HEIghten Written Comm. Exam

Seniors score significantly higher than freshmen. * * p < 0.05 ETS HEIghten Critical Thinking Exam Critical thinking exam is a test of logical & deductive reasoning Provides students with lists of evidence and arguments Asks questions about whether pieces of evidence support a conclusion or not, and how strongly Asks students to identify underlying assumptions in an argument Logic word problems Test scope: addresses evaluation, interpretation, & inference skills Multiple choice, scored via an algorithm Scale is 150 to 180.

Participants Undergrads from COB courses sat for HEIghten CT exam in Spring 2016. Excluded participants >30 yrs, GPA < 1.0, Current Hrs = 0 Freshmen (n = 103) 65 male 26 transfer students GPA: M: 3.03 SD: 0.57 36 Deans or Chancellors List Age: M: 19.8 SD: 1.4 Majors: Pre-Business Admin (81), Pre-Account (15), Pre-Econ (5) Seniors (n = 104) 51 male 1 transfer student

GPA: M: 3.2 SD: 0.37 37 Deans or Chancellors List Age: M: 22.9 SD: 1.5 Majors: Marketing (59), Management (26), other COB (20) Evidence from HEIghten Critical Thinking Exam Seniors score numerically, but not significantly, higher than freshmen. ETS HEIghten Exams Limitations: Small sample sizes for both UNCC and the national data limit the strength of conclusions about this exam. Exams are narrow in types of abilities tested, and may not reflect what skills/abilities are emphasized in particular disciplines.

Evidence from NSSE Triangulating students abilities: examining multiple measures mean rating Many COB programs emphasize analytical skills, including quantitative reasoning, mathematical, and statistical skills. 4 3 *

* 2 Evidence for strengths in these area. NSSE likert scale: 4 = very much 3 = quite a bit 2 = some 1 = very little 1 forming new ideas COB

n=169 QR conclude non-COB n=1138 * p < 0.05 Conclusions Drawing conclusions on the basis of multiple measures can mitigate limitations inherent in one measure or methodology. Importance of intentional design when using standardized exams. Considering discipline-specific contexts. Defining Effective Written Communication

Strong, effective writing may demonstrate many of these skills: Knowledge of rhetorical conventions in different contexts Awareness of audience & purpose of writing Content development & organization Correct/appropriate spelling, grammar, tone, style Knowledge of the writing process (drafting, revising) Evidence from Embedded Assessments Core Curriculum Learning Goal 2: Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively. - Subgoal on written communication Students have excelled at previous assessments of writing: COMM 3160 cover letter assignment, 91% of students (n=318) at target. Assessment plan now updated to Persuasive Analytical Report writing assignment - this is also an EXCELLENT critical thinking assignment

Evidence from Senior Survey & NSSE Pages of writting assigned 4.0 UNCC contribution to writing effectively ** 3.5 3.0 * 80

70 60 50 N=488 ** p < 0.0001 90 number of pages mean rating (how much) Senior Survey COB

N=2051 non-COB Senior survey likert scale: 4 = very much, 3 = somewhat, 2 = very little, 1 = not at all N=73 * p < 0.05 COB N=471 non-COB Data are from Seniors only. non-COB: UNCC students from colleges other than COB

Written Communication in Belk College of Business Students writing meets current targets (embedded assessments) Evidence students are gaining in their writing abilities & knowledge of writing process (ETS HEIghten exam) COB seniors self-perceive less gains in writing (Senior Survey) and are writing fewer pages in undergrad (NSSE) than other UNCC seniors However, business communications may be shorter in length by design compared to papers in other disciplines. Faculty are best judge of whether or not there are sufficient writing opportunities throughout the curriculum. Defining Critical Thinking Critical thinking may encompass some or all of the following steps: A process of inquiry and hypothesis-generation

Gathering information & data of good quality Evaluation of informations credibility, validity, logical strength (etc.) Analysis of quantitative and qualitative information & data Interpretation of informations significance & meaning Drawing inferences from evidence, assessing alternatives, determining sufficiency of evidence, decision-making Communication of thought-process and conclusions to others Evidence from Embedded Assessments Core Curriculum Learning Goal 4: Students will demonstrate the ability to use analytical skills in decision making. - 6 subgoals Assessed via problem sets & multiple choice questions in ACCT 2121, ACCT 2122, FIN 3120, OPER 3100 2012-2013: 5 out of 6 subgoals at or above target 2014-2015: 4 out of 6 subgoals at or above target

HEIghten Critical Thinking Scores and GPA Critical Thinking Heighten Score Evidence from HEIghten Critical Thinking Exam 170 Freshmen Seniors N = 903 165 N = 360 160 155

National data provided via personal communication. UNCC National Evidence from Senior Survey Senior Survey likert scale: 4 = very much 3 = somewhat 2 = very little 1 = not at all

mean rating (how much) UNCC contribution to using critical thinking skills 4.0 ** All students give fairly high ratings to item, To what extent do you think your college education contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in using critical thinking skills? 3.5

3.0 N=485 N=2048 COB non-COB ** p < 0.0001 COB seniors (green bar) rate this item lower than seniors in the other colleges (non-COB, gray bar). Senior Survey & HEIghten data

Satisfaction with Instructors Quickness in Providing Feedback Instructors quickness to provide feedback & CT Heighten scores 5 4 3 2 1 n= 78, r = 0.29, p < 0.01 150 160 170

180 Critical Thinking Heighten Score Senior Survey likert satisfaction scale: 5 = very satisfied, 4 = satisfied, 3 = neither, 2 = dissatisfied, 1 = very dissatisfied Evidence from NSSE 4 * mean rating Compared to other UNCC students not in COB (n=1138, gray bars), COB students (n=169, green bars) self-report their courses place

more emphasis on memorization and less emphasis on analyzing and forming new ideas. How much coursework emphasized * * 3 2 NSSE likert scale: 1 memorization 4 = very much

3 = quite a bit 2 = some 1 = very little analyzing ideas forming new ideas COB non-COB * p < 0.05 Critical Thinking in Belk College of Business Seniors show numerically, but not statistically, higher scores than freshmen on test of evaluation, interpretation, & inference skills (ETS Heighten). Evidence students are gaining in ability & confidence with quantitative reasoning and quantitative analysis skills (NSSE, embedded

assessments) Good instructional practices may benefit students development of critical thinking skills (ETS & Senior Survey)

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