EWP, athletic progress discussed

Faculty Senate discussed the progress of the Electronic Writing Portfolio for Eastern students as well as academic performance for student athletes at the meeting Tuesday.

Karla Sanders, director of the Center for Academic Support and Assessment, and Mike Cornebise, chair of the Committee on the Assessment of Student Learning, discussed the EWP.

“When we made the changes to writing portfolio, we knew students would start submitting papers that were not writing intensive,” Sanders said. “Although that has shown to be the case, we’re still receiving the majority from writing-intensive courses.”

The EWP is assessed in several different ways. The committee has a rubric which rates the students’ writing from one, which is “unsatisfactory,” to four, which is “superior.”

While students may submit writing from any course, Sanders said 71 percent of EWP submissions came from writing-intensive courses.

“We have trained readers that are also faculty members that read the entire portfolio,” Sanders said. “Instead of a paper written just for their course, they’re reading three submissions the student has turned in over their time at Eastern.”

During the discussion, Sanders and Cornebise asked for suggestions from faculty on how they may assist students in mastering their EWP.

Sanders and the CASL, through volunteers and focus grounds, found most students write for their faculty member.

“Things we might do naturally as professional writers, like define our terms, the students don’t always do because they think ‘well he taught me what that means,'” Sanders said.

The other focus of the CASL is to assess the student’s ability to think critically and argue well. One way they have done this is through the Collegiate Learning Assessment, in which the committee selected 100 seniors and 100 freshmen to participate.

“There’s been a slight downward trend in critical thinking, which proves we have work to do,” Sanders said.

Cornebise said speakers are starting to become more confident in their speaking.

“What we’ve done is tried to pull out what are the best responses of seniors and freshmen,” Cornebise said.

He added that 38 of seniors consider themselves to be a “leader,” and there is a 12 percent shift between freshmen and seniors.

Barbara Burke, director of athletics, also discussed with the senate the athlete department’s progress towards grade point average improvement.

Burke said one of the goals the athletic department is to have a 3.0 GPA every semester. This past semester, the department reported a 3.2 GPA, she said.

Each sport has a different amount of players, so the average for each sport is going to be different, Burke said.

Of the averaged 450 athletes, some sports have grade point averages reaching almost 4.0, while others are much lower due to the size of the team.

Compared to other Ohio Valley Conference schools, Burke said Eastern is lacking in the facilities needed to attract other athletes to the school. Burke and the athletic staff encourage students to do well academically.

“There’s a clear correlation between our student athletes and recruitment,” Burke said. “We’re competing against five other schools to get students to come to school here.”

Burke said students come here with out-of-pocket funding because of not having a full-ride scholarship.

The university spends, on average, $3.2 million per year to award scholarships to Eastern students total.

Andrew Methven, a biological sciences professor, reflected on the student athlete’s attitude in his classroom.

“I’ve always been impressed when I have athletes in my class (because) they really are student athletes,” Methven said. “If I find they are skipping class and I send something to Cindy (Tozer), I find they are in my office the next day. I appreciate that.”

Jennifer Brown can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].