Cindy Peterson, dean of the college of liberal arts and sciences, said an alternative evaluation will likely be in place next year.
“We are suspending that particular assessment for this year and we hope to have something back in place next year,” Peterson said. “The gen ed committee decided to discontinue it and look for a better alternative that would more accurately reflect what we hope our gen ed is actually doing for students.”
Pat Walsh, director of institutional effectiveness, said reevaluating the junior comps began by identifying the original purpose of the exam.
“The purpose of the junior comp is to help the university understand if what we said – that these are our goals of our general education program – are we accomplishing those goals?” Walsh said.
Walsh said the board asked questions like, ‘are these tests doing what we need them to do,’ ‘are they telling us what we need to know about our general education program,’ and ‘not just is this the right test to give, but are there other ways of assessing/evaluating general education?’
After the evaluation, the board decided that they were not getting an accurate representation of their general core. Because the exam has been suspended, some students will not be required to take it before graduating.
“Anybody that is a junior this fall or in the spring that would have had to take the test, that graduation requirement will be waived,” Walsh said. “Anybody that would have had to take it this year, the requirement will be waived.” This includes seniors that have not yet taken the junior exam.
Walsh said the rest of the student body will still need to take the junior comps, but the general education committee is working to amend the exam. Peterson said the test needs to do a better job of benefitting MNU’s general education programs.
Peterson also said that the board is not completely sure what the new junior comps will look like, but they have a few ideas.
“We replaced the Biblical Literacy,” Peterson said. “We’re looking at more of a holistic approach, so more about spiritual formation overall, and less ‘do you know the books of the Bible?’”
Walsh said she hopes students will watch the changes the school is making in this process and understand that the tests are not just a piece of busywork.
“There is a reason for doing this,” Walsh said. “One is accountability with our accreditation and the other is to improve what we are doing. Making sure that we are doing the best that we can for students and that they are learning what we expect them to learn.”