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This paper describes an assessment of community college student knowledge in the liberal arts at two-year colleges in Southern California. A survey instrument with multiple choice questions covering five liberal arts subject areas was distributed to 4,200 students in randomly selected classes at ten colleges. More than 2,500 questionnaires were returned, for a 60% response rate. Key findings include: (1) an association between age and performance in the content areas was observed--older students tended to score higher in English and lower on the mathematics section, which may indicate that living longer and having more exposure to cultural and written materials enhances scores in English; (2) there was a positive relationship between the number of units students had completed in a subject area and the scores obtained on the corresponding section of the test, a relationship that was especially strong in science classes but less significant for humanities classes; (3) students' self-assessments of their abilities in liberal arts subjects were remarkably accurate, showing that community college students are realistic about their academic skills. Appended are: student demographics survey items; a list of sub disciplines and sample questions; and a table illustrating discriminating power of subject area test sections. (Contains 10 references, 9 tables, and 2 figures.) (CB)

Descriptors: Community Colleges, Educational Assessment, Individual Testing, Knowledge Level, Liberal Arts, Outcomes of Education, Student Evaluation, Two Year College Students, Two Year Colleges

Autor: Cohen, Arthur M.; Schuetz, Pam; Chang, June C.; Plecha, Michelle D.


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