The team who attended the Institute for General Education in Salt Lake City in June were particularly intrigued by the use of signature assignments and eportfolios. We learned that these practices can make students more aware of the knowledge and skills they are gathering in their general education courses, help them see the connections among their courses as part of an integrated general education program, give them an opportunity to showcase their work, and allow for meaningful assessments of the program. This week we are focusing on signature assignments and next week we will give you information about eportfolios.
A signature assignment is real-world application of knowledge that typically addresses two or more of the General Education learning outcomes and is accompanied by some reflective writing. It is not an additional assignment, but one that faculty already incorporate into courses.
For example if two GE learning outcomes are critical thinking and cultural competence, assignments could be centered on essays, reflective writing, or collaborative projects to measure the quality of student learning on these important elements.
Think of a signature assignment as a milestone in the student’s progress toward fulfilling the program objectives. Ideally, signature assignments are the types of works that students and professors would most like to present to others as evidence of accomplishment.
At some institutions, signature assignments must include specific components, such as a “real-world” application, reflective writing, or collaborative work. The most distinctive feature of signature assignments is the way programs integrate them across the educational pathway to help students demonstrate their growth, make connections across the curriculum and co-curriculum, and apply their knowledge to real world problems.
Signature Assignments ask students to:
• Demonstrate mastery
• Integrate knowledge
• Apply knowledge
Additional Resources and Information on Signature Assignments:
Salt Lake Community College (SLCC)
Association of American Colleges and Universities