**UNO offers Mills, Pottawattamie and Harrison county residents the same in-state tuition breaks as the counties on the Nebraska side of the river, so this does pertain to CB rather importantly***http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=2 ... d=10407867
Published Saturday August 16, 2008
Report says UNO students learn more than peers
BY KHRISTOPHER J. BROOKS
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
Students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha gain more knowledge in their collegiate years than students at several other universities, a report from a New York group says.
The Council for Aid to Education recently released results from its Collegiate Learning Assessment, an exam administered to students at 176 colleges across the country, including UNO.
The assessment aims to measure how much a college student has learned from freshman year to senior year, a term commonly referred to in education as a student's "value-added learning."
UNO and other schools say the results give them a better understanding of how effectively professors are teaching.
A group of UNO freshmen scored fairly low on the test, but a group of seniors scored well, which suggests that seniors performed better because of their knowledge gained at UNO. The score changes from freshmen to seniors outranked every other college tested, the report says.
"The . . . results reflect our long-time strategic goal to make UNO a learner-centered university," Chancellor John Christensen said. "These results show that a UNO education is an investment that pays a significant return to students."
The 90-minute test was given to 225 randomly selected freshmen during fall 2007, and to 98 seniors this past spring.
The UNO freshmen ranked in the 9th percentile among all the students from all the universities tested, while UNO seniors ranked in the 86th percentile.
Elizabeth Lebedz was one of the seniors who took the test. She described it as "pretty harmless, but it was challenging in parts because it was a different sort of assessment than I'm used to."
"It had a part where we had to decide which community project a city should fund," said Lebedz, 24, who majored in psychology. "It broke down some numbers and gave us some charts and some letters from the mayor and town people. You had to decide, based on these letters and charts, how much money they should spend or use or need."
In the council's test, students are required to use high-level critical thinking, analytical skills and writing, said Terry Hynes, UNO senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. The essay test asks students to develop an argument ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â for or against something ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â and evaluate pieces of information and evidence that could help develop their position.
"They have to make judgments, dissect arguments, determine fact from opinion and rational or emotional arguments," Hynes said. "It has them apply things they have learned. It's not just a yes-or-no, multiple choice test."
The council's test is one of many value-added programs sprouting up across the country.
Leaders at UNO and other colleges said they think some form of measuring academic progress is necessary to show a school's quality of education.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln administered the test to its students three years ago and scored at a moderate level, said Rita Kean, UNL's dean of undergraduate studies.
Using results from value-added learning, college officials say they can see what areas students excel in ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â or don't ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â and tweak curriculum and courses.
Steve Bullock, UNO's assistant vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, said university officials plan to further review their results to see where students did the worst, "seeing if we need to add a class or change the number of courses in that area being offered."