General Education Program

Frequently Asked Questions about GE Assessment

The below FAQ is intended to answer faculty questions about their participation in the GE assessment process.

Q. I am not teaching a GE course in Spring 2021. Is this a mistake?

A. No, this is not a mistake. Our new GE assessment model gathers information from students later in their studies. Our goal is to collect data about students’ entire education, rather than getting a snapshot from one class. Students tend to take GE courses during their first two years, so we now select students in capstone seminars because these courses happen near the end of a student’s education.   

Q. What are my responsibilities as a capstone instructor particpating in assessment?
A. As a capstone instructor, you are only responsible for encouraging students to complete GE assessment. Classroom instruction is a student’s primary point of interaction with the university. This means you can shape student understanding about the importance of assessment more than anyone else. Your encouragement of student participation ensures that our assessment process will be successful.

Q. Do I have to assess these essays?
A. You do not have to assess the essays. A committee of faculty who teach in the GE category being assessed will evaluate the essays and share the assessment results with the campus. Your role is to encourage students to complete the assessment.   

Q. Will student assessment responses count toward their grade?

A. No, assessment responses will not count toward students’ grades. Assessment is entirely separate from grades assigned by you, the instructor.

Q. How do my students complete GE capstone assessment?

A. Due to the pandemic and campus-wide shift to remote learning, assessment is being conducted entirely on Blackboard. A unique Blackboard webpage has been created for each of the three assessed GE categories (US Studies, World Civilizations, and Basic Communication-Oral). Students taking a capstone course selected for assessment of a specific GE category can access that respective page. The direct link to the directions for each Blackboard page is as follows:

World Civilizations:

US Studies:

Basic Communication-Oral:

Q. How can I link to the assessment Blackboard page using my class Blackboard page.

A. Using the above relevant link, follow the instructions provided in this short video (48 seconds) produced by Kate Bohan of the Office of Instructional Technology (a special thank you to Kate for helping the GE Board move our assessment process online). 

Q. Will the assessment be accessible for students with disabilities and impairments?

A. Yes. One reason we have moved the assessment online is to make it more accessible. We are working with the Disability Resource Center to make sure everyone can participate without obstacles.

Q. Do I have to use my class time for assessment?

A. No. Since assessment is online, students can complete it at their own convenience outside of class. In addition, it would be impossible to conduct assessment in-class since many classes are currently asynchronous. 

Q. How long will it take students to complete the assessment?

A. The assessment prompt for each of the three assessed GE categories should take no longer than 30-45 minutes to complete. 

Q. What’s the deadline for students to complete?

A. The GE Board wants students to complete assessment by mid-semester. 

Q. Is assessment similar across all GE categories?

A. No. Only assessment prompts for both US Studies and World Civilizations are similar. Those prompts ask students to answer a series of short questions that address each SUNY-designated Student Learning Outcome for the relevant GE category. Assessment for Basic Communication-Oral is different. Due to the unique nature of that GE category and its Student Learning Outcomes, that assessment requires that students listen to or read a speech and then record their own oral response.

Q. Where can students learn more about assessment?

A. The GE Board has compiled a Frequently Asked Questions for students here. 

Q. Who can I contact for more information?

A. Please contact the following for questions relevant to the GE category being assessed in your capstone class:

World Civilizations: Rebecca Longtin (  
US Studies: Stephen Pampinella (
Basic Communication-Oral: Nicola Wilson Clasby (

Q. Why did the assessment model change?

A. We have switched to a new assessment model that has students in capstone courses write short essays so that we can get information directly from students and so that we can see how their entire education, rather than just one course, has contributed to the GE student learning outcomes. General education is meant to support all disciplines at New Paltz by grounding students’ intellectual development in the essential skills and subject matters that are shared between all the liberal arts and sciences and encouraging them to make connections between the different classes they take throughout their education. We hope that our revisions to the assessment process will improve our ability to evaluate how well our university serves these goals and encourage innovations in teaching.   
The new procedure is more interdisciplinary and collaborative because it requires groups of faculty who teach GE in different disciplines to discuss the development and evaluation of assessing SLOs. Moreover, we have shifted the labor of assessment to paid volunteers instead of adjuncts, lecturers, and junior faculty, who teach the majority of GE classes. Additionally, students participate directly in assessment now, which means it can also serve as an occasion for them to reflect on their education.

Q. When did the assessment model change?

A. The GE Assessment Plan was approved by the faculty senate at the 4/19/2019 meeting and implemented for the first time last year.

Q. Will there be opportunities for faculty to give feedback on the new assessment process?

A. Yes. We will send you a survey when assessment is complete so that you can share your observations, concerns, and suggestions. If you teach in one the GE categories being assessed this year, we will also send you a survey asking you about your class. Associate Provost Laurel Garrick Duhaney will gather all of this information into a report that will be distributed in the Fall. Additionally, the GE Board holds a forum every semester to encourage feedback and conversation.