WTC 3.5.1 Narrative
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Section 3:  Programs


The institution identifies college-level general education competencies and uses best practices in assessment to provide evidence that graduates have attained them .

Partial Compliance


As is discussed in the review of Core Requirement 2.7.3, the Western Texas College mission statement indicates that the College  “ . . . is committed to educational excellence as it challenges students to reach their full potential in developing critical thinking skills, communication proficiency, appreciation of arts and culture, and an understanding of their roles and responsibilities in a democratic society.”  In keeping with its mission and the parallel requirements of the Texas Education Code and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), the College requires a general education core for all of its degree programs, and it provides for measurement of college-level competencies within that core.

In January 1997, the Texas Legislature stipulated that each public post-secondary institution in the state must adopt standards as described in the THECB Core Curriculum (1) to equal no less than 42 semester credit hours, (2) to be consistent with the Texas Common Course Numbering System, and (3) to comply with the recommendations and rules issued by The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Western Texas College established a 46-hour core curriculum and adopted the six basic intellectual competencies of reading, writing, speaking, listening, critical thinking, and computer literacy for each Western Texas College course taught as part of the Core. Course portfolios and/or syllabi contain a set of basic intellectual competencies and exemplary educational outcomes, all of which are defined in Appendix E of the THECB Lower-Division Academic Course Guide Manual. Each competency and objective has defined methods of measurement, and faculty members assess students’ mastery of that competency through various types of tests, writing assignments, oral presentations, and individual and group projects.

The Associate of Arts degree as well as the Associate of Arts in Teaching degree includes the Core Curriculum Requirement of 46 hours. This core consists of 6 hours of communication (English composition), 3 hours of mathematics, 8 hours of natural sciences, 3 hours of visual or performing arts, 3 hours of humanities, 15 hours of social/behavioral sciences, 3 hours of communications (speech, modern language/communication skills), 3 hours of computer science, and 2 hours of health/physical education. 

All Associate of Applied Science degrees at Western Texas College require a minimum of 15 semester hours of general education courses including at least one course in the humanities/fine arts, one course in social/behavioral sciences and one course in natural sciences/mathematics.

Course syllabi include student learning outcomes at the course level.  The measurement of these outcomes, as well as traditional course assessments (tests, writing assignments, oral presentations, and group and individual projects) determine whether or not students have attained competency in the course.

Various departments give departmental assessments to measure competencies identified to be important to that area. For example, the Vocational Nursing department uses ATI (Assessment Technologies Institute) testing and a PN CAT (Educational Resources) to help determine how the students may do on the board examination. These tests provide valuable feedback to the students, and instructors and identify weaknesses from analysis of the results of this simulation of the licensure exam.  In addition, the math department uses standardized tests and finals in all classes.  All DMT 033 students take the same tests and final.  Similarly, all DMT 032 and DMT 031 students take the same tests and final.  Finally, the English Department administers exit tests in DEN 032, 033, and ENGL 1301. The DEN 032 and 033 tests determine if the student moves upward and ultimately into college level work with ENGL 1301. The ENGL 1301 exit test is perhaps the most important since without passing it, a student cannot advance to ENGL 1302, which is a prerequisite for all second-year English courses. All of the exit tests--and there are different versions for each skill level--are a 50-question grammar and punctuation exam which must be passed at the 70 percent level for advancement. Students’ skills are assessed at the start of the term and midway through the term. Lab assignments, which are semester-long, are based on the pre-tests given at the start of the term.

Western Texas College also relies on formal surveys such as the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) to measure general education competencies for its students.  Results of the CCSSE surveys (LINK) are reported to the college and, as shown in the review of Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1, are used as measures of institutional effectiveness.  Some of the results from the CCSSE Educational Growth feedback are given in Table 3.5.1.A

Table 3.5.1.A
CCSSE Educational Growth Indicators

How much has your experience at this college contributed to your knowledge, skills and personal development in the following areas?



Acquiring a general education



Writing clearly and effectively



Speaking clearly and effectively



Thinking critically and analytically



Solving numerical problems



Using computer and information technology



WTC students responded to these statements with lower rankings than the cohort in all of these areas.

The College also requires that instructors use the Individual Development and Educational Assessment (IDEA) course and instructor evaluation instrument to assess achievement of intellectual competencies. Table 3.5.1.B, which is taken from the IDEA Group Report (LINK) for WTC, indicates that a majority of the students responded either “Quite a Bit” or “Very Much” to the survey and feel that the essential competencies emphasized by the college are being met.

Table 3.5.1.B
IDEA Group Responses










Writing clearly and effectively

14.1 %

24 %

37.9 %

20.8 % = 58

Speaking clearly and effectively

6.7 %

31.5 %

35.5 %

18.9 % = 54

Thinking critically and analytically

6.7 %

26.4 %

41.8 %

25.1 % = 66

Solving numerical problems

15.9 %

29.9 %

34.3 %

20. % = 54

Using computing and information technology

13.1 %


33.1 %

26.8 % = 60





22.3 = 58.8

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) collects statewide information concerning graduation rates. These rates are calculated as the percentage of first-time, full-time entering, credential-seeking undergraduates who have graduated from a Texas public and private higher education. The percentages for those students who have attended WTC and the state-selected cohort of small colleges are given in Table 3.5.1.C.

Table 3.5.1.C
THECB Small College Cohort Graduation Rates

Student group that graduated by Fall 2005


Small College Cohort

3-year graduation rate (entered Fall 2002)



4-year graduation rate (entered Fall 2001)



6-year graduation rate (entered Fall 1999)



These statewide results indicate that those students who came to WTC have higher graduation rates than students who attended other colleges in the cohort. Indirectly, this shows that WTC students acquired necessary educational competencies and/or skills that allowed them to graduate successfully.

While the college identifies college-level general education competencies and uses best practices to provide evidence that graduates have attained them, there is room for improvement. WTC has recently identified critical thinking as an essential area for improvement. The College’s Quality Enhancement Plan will concentrate on developing and improving critical thinking skills of the students.

Evidence of Support:

Community College Survey of Student Engagement
IDEA (Kansas State University)
IDEA Group Report for 2004-2006:  “Structuring Classroom Experiences,” item # 12

Lower-Division Academic Course Guide Manual, Appendix E
Texas Common Course Numbering System
THECB Rules, §4
Western Texas College Catalog

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