Executive Summary: This study was undertaken to establish a technique for quantifying nontraditional assessment outcomes data, to ascertain the effectiveness of the Fairhaven methodology of education, and to provide feedback about that methodology to Fairhaven instructors and administrators. Two assessment tools were utilized: the Perry scheme and the Measure of Intellectual Development (MID). The Perry scheme is a stratified model of cognitive development; the MID is a rating system that allows researchers to assign scores to Perry scheme positions. For both, student writing samples are the most commonly used form of input data. In lieu of letter grades, Fairhaven students submit written evaluations. (See Appendix C for a discussion of student self-assessments.) These evaluations are collected in portfolios. For this study, writing samples were taken from 126 student portfolios. All were Fairhaven graduates, randomly selected for the study. From student numbers, they were identified as having entered Western/Fairhaven between the years of 1969 to 1988, and having graduated from Fairhaven between 1980 and 1990. Participants were about equally divided by gender (48.4% male versus 51.6% females) and admit status (53.3% native versus 46.8% transfer). Participants were overwhelmingly white, non-Hispanics (89.7% of those indicating ethnicity). Four samples were utilized: one set each of Student Self-Evaluations taken from courses early, middle, and late in a students' academic career, and the senior year Summary and Evaluation paper, a more extensive piece that calls for students to summarize and reflect upon the total of their educational experience. The Center for the Study of Intellectual Development (CSID), an independent organization located in Olympia, served as raters for the Fairhaven samples. Their results were sent back in the winter of 1992. Along with the Fairhaven sample, results from writing samples taken from "traditional" college students were available, as well as results from a study similar to Fairhaven's done at The Evergreen State College. All were rated by CSID raters and allowed for some small degree of comparison. From MID ratings, scores were grouped into Perry scheme categories. Writing samples taken early in Fairhaven students' academic career had an average Perry position of 3.37. The average position for samples taken at the mid-point was 3.45, and the average position in the senior year (the late sample) was 3.68. Statistical tests indicate that this change was statistically significant (F = 14014.74, df= 115, p = .001). In other words, the cognitive abilities of Fairhaven students show improvement from early in their academic careers to late. Moreover, the score for the senior-year reflective piece averaged 4.20, a good indicator of the improvement in cognitive abilities of Fairhaven students in this sample. Furthermore, a considerable number of the cohort ranked at Position 5 of the Perry scheme (nearly 20%). According to some researchers, writing at this level nears a professional level; it is balanced, informed, and reasoned. Comparative results indicated that the Fairhaven cohort outperformed the cohort of "traditional" school students, and faired about equal to the cohort of Evergreen State College students.
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Subjects - Topical (LCSH)
Education, Higher--Washington (State)--Evaluation
Subjects - Names (LCNAF)
Fairhaven College--Students--Statistics; Western Washington University--Students--Statistics
Title of Series
Technical and research reports (Western Washington University. Office of Institutional Assessment and Testing) ; 1995-01
Eaton, Marie; McKinney, Gary (Gary Russell); Trimble, Joseph E.; and Andrieu-Parker, Jacqueline M., "Portfolio Analysis and Cognitive Development at Fairhaven College" (1995). Office of Survey Research. 382.