First Year Experience "Big History" began as an ambitious undertaking, an extraordinary curricular innovation by Dominican faculty who came together in an ever-growing learning community to build the program. The same faculty believes that a program with such lofty goals must be evaluated thoroughly to ensure effectiveness and continuous quality improvement.
First Year Experience "Big History" is evaluated in a number of ways: assessment of student learning outcomes through analysis of various course assignments, student Big History surveys, faculty surveys and qualitative assessment, and national surveys measuring student engagement, BCSSE and NSSE. In Fall 2012, the program added a new assessment measure to include more student voices: The Dominican Big History Scholar program.
The Dominican Big History Scholar program invites Dominican Big History students to assume a leadership role in evaluating and improving the First Year Experience program. Outstanding students are trained in the facilitation of student focus groups, data collection and analysis. In October 2012, former Big History students Devan Klein and Yema Manyanki attended a workshop at the Wabash College's Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium in Indiana with Professors Behmand and Lucko. Each semester, Big History Scholars conduct a number of focus groups, asking current Big History students to reflect on their Big History experience, share thoughts and insights, and articulate how they would like to see Big History at Dominican grow. Further, as a self-sustaining practice, Big History Scholars train future sophomores for the same task as they graduate from Big History.
Focus groups of students, led by students, and recorded by students aid the First Year Experience "Big History" program in its realization of consistent quality improvement. The collective results of these conversations –participants are guaranteed individual anonymity–are presented to the university leadership and shared with our campus community.
Submissions from 2014
Dominican Big History Scholars Student-Led Focus Groups, Lizette Cabrera, Cassandra Cannon, Talia Gonzalez, Carly Holboke, Kylie Walsh, Tegist Worku, Emily Beach, Mackenzie Hagstrom, Jennifer Lucko, J. Dan May, and Mojgan Behmand