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K-State Today

June 12, 2017

Letter from the vice provost for undergraduate studies

By Steven Dandaneau

Dear colleagues,

For my quarterly update, I share a recently composed statement from Dr. Fred Burrack, director of the Office the Assessment, which briefly explains how we at K-State regularly assess learning in the area of diversity and cultural competency. While the K-State 8 Council, in collaboration with the Office of Assessment, is working to extend this research, we benefit greatly from its availability and rigor. Addressing such critical issues successfully requires resolute commitment and rigorous self-appraisal. I invite you to consider Dr. Burrack's summary of some of the work underway in this area:

"Kansas State University has a continued interest and dedication to learning in the area of diversity and the cultural competency of its students. The universitywide outcome for learning in the area of diversity is: "Students will demonstrate awareness and understanding of the skills necessary to live and work in a diverse world." In terms a bit more specific, the Association for American College and Universities, or AAC&U, define cultural competency as "a set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills and characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts."

A continued focus on student learning in the area of diversity has resulted in many data points exemplifying the quality of diversity learning on our campus. The Office of Assessment collects both direct and indirect documentation on the quality of learning in all undergraduate outcome categories, including diversity. Direct evidence of student learning is collected from programs through the Assessment of Student Learning reports. In this process, each program identifies how issues of diversity are essential to students' educational development in their program and assesses student achievement on appropriate program-selected assessments. In the 2015-16 AY, programs reported that 88 percent of students reached acceptable levels with 60 percent reaching or exceeding programs' targeted level of learning.

The Office of Assessment also collects student self-report data on many topics/issues associated with the area of diversity. The annual Senior Survey, Alumni Survey and the National Survey of Student Engagement provide insight into a variety of diversity issues related to student learning and the environment in which they experience learning across campus.

Selected highlights include:

National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE 2016)

• 58 percent of seniors recognized their experience at K-State contributed quite a bit or very much to knowledge, skills and personal development in understanding people of other backgrounds.

• 66 percent reported that they tried to better understand someone else's views by imagining how an issue looks from another perspective.

Senior Survey (AY2015-2016)

• 94 percent recognized some or a lot of progress in the ability to interact positively with people who are different than them.

• 85 percent identified that they developed awareness of self and multiple perspectives about U.S. society and how group affiliation affects people's perspective and experience.

• 81 percent recognized some or a lot of progress in awareness of values, perspectives, beliefs, policies, and customs from around the world.

Alumni Survey (graduates from AY2014-2015)

• 80 percent revealed that their current jobs required working with a diverse group of people.

• 56 percent feel K-State should place the same and 41 percent should place more emphasis on interacting positively with people who are different than themselves.

Complete reports can be found on the "annual summary report" and "detailed reports."

The K-State 8 general education program is intended to help students widen their perspectives, and expose students to a broad range of knowledge in different academic areas. Although not intended to be the singular place in the curriculum to address broad learning outcomes, the courses do introduce the eight areas which the faculty regard as essential for a well-rounded university education and which are available for further exploration throughout students' educational development. Two K-State 8 areas, "Human Diversity within the U.S." and "Global Issues and Perspectives," introduce important topics and issues related to cultural competence. Student perceptions of learning are identified every two years.

The Office of Assessment has collaborated with the Office of Diversity to assist faculty and programs in reviewing their current student learning outcomes and assessment measures through focused workshops and two years offering annual Institute for Student Learning Assessment/Diversity Summit. Annual communication with programs continue to encourage intentional consideration of student learning in the area of diversity."

Many thanks to Dr. Burrack for sharing the above statement. All of us, including certainly the many who are particularly invested in nurturing the highest quality undergraduate education, are committed to further assessment in this area and to pursuit of a diverse and inclusive university.


Steven Dandaneau,

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies