Our new core curriculum will require the assessment of personal responsibility, civic responsibility, and teamwork–among other skills, such as critical and creative thinking. While I am wary of the assessment load this will add to an already assessment-heavy writing course, I think such assessment is useful because so many students fail to connect the expectations of their core courses to their professional readiness/development.
Core courses are primarily populated by freshmen, so these students have some time to mature academically, personally, and professionally before they reach their upper-level major courses, in which such “soft” skills are taken more seriously because of the professional relevance of these courses. However, I see the benefit in assessing such skills early on in students’ college careers. Indeed, since students typically question the usefulness of many core courses to their majors, assessing skills that are professionally relevant in these courses may encourage students to take their core education more seriously. If we must continually justify the relevance of our courses to our students’ majors (oh, that dreaded question/attitude!), then we should have some assessment “ammunition” that is unquestionably perceived as being professionally relevant.
Such assessment, while unfortunately adding to the heavy assessment load that some core courses bear, might be the key to encouraging students to take their core courses more seriously–if not the content, then at least the behavioral and ethical expectations of them.