$300,000 over 36 months. The collaborative will develop and implement a three-year project designed to measure student learning outcomes—critical thinking and writing skills, creativity, collaborative abilities, and ethical judgment—as they emerge through integrative learning experiences in the first year. Evidence from within and beyond the collaborative supports the premise that integrative experiences—those experiences that help students integrate discrete parts of their education—provide an important component of the "value added" of a liberal arts education. Building on this research, these four schools will evaluate the degree to which integrative experience programs produce gains in student learning outcomes.
The collaborative will assess student learning outcomes through both quantitative and qualitative means. In addition to using national assessment instruments—the Cooperative Institutional Research Project (CIRP), Your First College Year (YFCY), and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)—each institution will develop a targeted assessment of its integrative experience programs. Agnes Scott will evaluate the benefits of linking first-year seminars to living and learning communities; Converse College will analyze the impact of its new leadership and learning initiative (a partnership between academic and student affairs); University of North Carolina - Asheville will assess the impact of integrative academic experiences on student learning in its Liberal Students Introductory Colloquium; and Wofford College will focus on the impact of its Learning Communities that link laboratory science courses for non-science majors and freshman humanities seminars.