Learning Assessment Committee
Learning Assessment Committee
|Mission: to stimulate a culture of ongoing instructional improvement using assessment to facilitate student success.
What should your department be working on? The accreditation standards require us to define student learning outcomes (SLOs) for each course, program, certificate, and degree. In addition, we need to continually assess student achievement of the SLOs. Here are the things your department should be working on:
For more information, please read the SLO and Assessment Manual. It can be found in the “Documents” section of this site.
New – SLO and Assessment Manual
Check the “Documents” section for a downloadable “how-to” instruction manual on writing SLOs and Assessing the SLOs.
General Education Outcomes
On April 26 2007, there was a college-wide retreat with the goal of deciding on a set of General Education outcomes for Laney College. The handouts and notes from the meeting can be found in the “Documents” section.
How to Write Student Learning Outcomes
Click on the link on the upper left corner of this page (it says “How to Write Student Learning Outcomes” in blue) to access instructions and tips on writing SLOs. You can access handouts from the SLO workshops from this subcommunity.
Questions or Feedback?
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “feedback” button to send us an e-mail.
What Is Assessment?
Assessment is the process of collecting evidence to see if students are actually learning what we抮e teaching. The focus is on seeing what the student is able to do or demonstrate, rather than just listing an inventory of what was covered in a particular class. Here is a useful definition from Linda Suskie in her book Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide (p. 3).
揂ssessment is the ongoing process of:
As you may know, the accrediting commission (ACCJC) has changed its standards, and colleges will need to meet a new set of criteria to keep their accreditation. The new standards heavily emphasize outcomes and assessment at the course level, program level, and institution level. This represents a dramatic shift in focus, and it means that if we as a college can抰 demonstrate that we抮e practicing assessment, we could lose our accreditation.
On the next accreditation self-study report and visit, we will need to show what assessment we have been doing. If we haven抰 done anything, we will be in trouble! Assessment is supposed to be faculty-driven. So if we as faculty are supposed to decide how to do it, it would be a good idea for us to figure out what it is and the many things that can be done to assess student learning. The good news is that there are lots of possibilities, and nobody HAS to do it in any particular way. You can choose assessment methods that will work for you and that will give you information you can really use to improve student learning.
Assessment isn抰 the same as assigning grades. Grades alone do not give enough information on specific strengths and weaknesses of students. In addition, grading standards might be vague, while assessment information is very specific.
Benefits of Assessment:
The instructor is more proactive in helping students learn. Expectations are made very clear, so that students know what to expect and know where to focus their energies. There should be frequent prompt feedback that gives enough detail so that students understand their strengths and weaknesses.
揊aculty should be curious to learn how their teaching impacts student learning and, as rational decision-makers, they should want to reflect on evidence, rather than rely on conjecture, to guide decision-making.?(Mary Allen, Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education, p. 13.)
Advice on starting assessment:
Steps of Assessment: (Mary Allen, Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education, p. 10.)
1. Develop learning outcomes.
2. Check for alignment between the curriculum and the outcomes.
3. Develop an assessment plan.
4. Collect assessment data.
5. Use results to improve the program.
6. Routinely examine the assessment process and correct, as needed.
Assessments should be useful, accurate, truthful, fair, ethical, systematized, and cost effective.
Direct Methods of Assessment:
Indirect Methods of Assessment:
What are Student Learning Outcomes?
Student learning outcomes are statements of what students will be able to do after taking a particular class or completing a particular program. Student learning outcomes can be written for individual classes, entire programs, or for the institution as a whole. Student learning outcomes should be general in scope. They should be written using active verbs that describe what the student will be able to DO and they should also indicate how the outcome will be measured or assessed.
How Do Outcomes Differ From Objectives?
An outcome (student learning outcome) indicates general overarching concepts in a course or program. Typically, there will be between three and eight outcomes for any particular course or program. Objectives address the details in a course and are related to the specific course content. There will be many individual objectives for any class.
Here is an example taken from a handbook from a workshop given at Laney College in August 2004 (by Janet Fulks and Kate Pluta of Bakersfield College):
Discuss differences in nutritional requirements associated with sex, age, and activity.
Describe causes and consequences of nutritional problems.
Identify key factors involved in correcting nutritional behaviors.
Course Student Learning Outcome:
At the end of this nutrition course, a student will be able to analyze a documented nutritional problem, determine a strategy to correct the problem, and write a draft nutritional policy addressing the broader scope of the problem.
What is a rubric?
A rubric lists the specific parts of the assignment ?the types of things the instructor is looking for and evaluating to determine the overall grade. The rubric specifically lists acceptable and unacceptable qualities in the assignment. Rubrics can have many levels (exemplary, good, competent, below standards, unacceptable, etc.) and can be written to accommodate any assignment and any qualities you are looking for.
To make things perfectly clear to your students, rubrics should be handed out to your students when you explain the assignment, so that they can focus their energies on things that you have decided are most important for this assignment.
Advantages of using rubrics:
Assessing Student Learning in Community Colleges, Janet Fulks (an online workbook -click the link at the left to access it). The direct URL is:
Assessment Clear and Simple: A Practical Guide for Institutions, Departments, and General Education, Barbara E. Walvoord, Jossey-Bass, 2004.
Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide, Linda Suskie, Anker, 2004.
Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education, Mary J. Allen, Anker, 2004.
Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback, and Promote Student Learning, Danelle D. Stevens, Stylus, 2005.
Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment, Barbara E. Walvoord and Virginia Johnson Anderson, Jossey-Bass, 1998.