TEAGLE FOUNDATION: ASSESSING CLASSICS
& POLITICAL SCIENCE
A Longitudinal Study of Critical
Thinking and Postformal Reasoning:
Assessing Undergraduate Outcomes
Within Disciplinary Contexts
Objective: To examine the development of undergraduate student
outcomes, specifically critical thinking and postformal reasoning, using
a 3-year longitudinal research design and instrumentation developed within
two disciplinary frameworks: classics and political science.
questions to measure critical thinking are under development by a team of
faculty members from each discipline. They will be administered at two points
in time to the same students in order to observe changes in their critical
thinking. Together with the principal investigator faculty will also devise
a grading schema or scoring rubric for the essays. An instrument to measure
postformal reasoning (the ability to reason through problems without verifiably
correct answers) will also be administered at both times.
Students in introductory level classics and political science classes will
be asked to complete the assessment electronically, on their own time. Faculty
in these classes will be fully briefed on the assessment and provided with
an administration protocol. Students will receive a monetary incentive of
$25 for their complete, engaged participation.
participation: Over a dozen colleges and universities have agreed to participate,
with each being asked to encourage participation from both their classics
and political science departments. Recruitment of classics departments is
currently capped, but is ongoing at selected institutions for political
The project is directed by Dr. Rachelle
L. Brooks, Northwestern University, and funded by the Teagle Foundation. Two
advisory boards of faculty, one for each discipline, have been tasked with
collaborating to develop the critical thinking essay prompts and to assist
with and advise the work of the project for its duration.
Classics: Michael Arnush
(Skidmore), Barbara Gold (Hamilton), Kenny Morrell (Rhodes), David Porter
(Indiana and Skidmore), Peter Struck (University of Pennsylvania)
Political Science: Stephen
Ceccoli (Rhodes), Jane Junn (Rutgers), Sara Monoson (Northwestern), David
Participating Institutions (contacts in parentheses)
Classics: Bowdoin (Jennifer
Clarke Kosak), Davidson (Jeanne Neumann), Grand Valley State (Chuck Pazdernik),
Hamilton (James Wells), Haverford (Bret Mulligan), Holy Cross (Ellen Perry),
Monmouth (Tom Sienkewicz), Northwestern (Sara Monoson), Oberlin (Kirk Ormand),
Rhodes (Kenny Morrell), Skidmore (Leslie Mechem), Swarthmore (Rosaria Munson),
Trinity (Martha Risser), Univ. of Pennsylvania (Peter Struck), Wesleyan
Political Science: Grand
Valley State (Mark Richards), Hamilton (David Paris), Monmouth (Tom Sienkewicz),
Northwestern (Sara Monoson), Rhodes (Stephen Ceccoli), Skidmore (Kate Graney),
Swarthmore (Cindy Halpern).
Protocol for participating faculty
Faculty at participating institutions
will select one or more courses that have a majority of first- and second-year
students enrolled and that are likely to produce some number of majors in classics,
or political science, in two years. All of the students in a selected course
will be asked to participate, rather than selected volunteers, and the total
number of student participants should be approximately 40-50 per institution.
Students will receive $25 for their participation.
They will be asked to respond to the questions on-line and outside of class
time. Faculty are asked not to share the questions in advance nor "teach
to the test" to avoid skewing the results.
In two years the same students
will be asked to complete another assessment. All of the students will be informed
in year 1 that they are committing to participating two years hence but we will
not reveal the contents of the second assessment at this time (it might include
one or both of the essay questions used in the first year). The students will
receive appropriate compensation during the second assessment for their participation
(amount TBD). Those students who will have graduated will not be solicited;
all who are still enrolled, regardless of the major(s) they have selected, will
be asked to participate again.
Students will be asked to indicate their major
(with "undeclared" an option), the name(s) of their high school, demographic
questions and a separate set of brief analytical questions.