As we work with our Educational Partners on implementing their outcome assessment plan, from the macro to the micro level in distinctive academic cultures, a common theme emerged. The focus was on organizing and collecting evidence but there was no formal plan for action steps.
Our Assessment & Analytics team worked closely with several of our Educational Partners to customize templates, devise online faculty discussion forums and offer other technology enhanced solutions to be a catalyst for improving curriculum and instruction. As discussion pursued it became evident that there was no “one way” to accommodate the unique requirements of all colleges and universities but we were providing methods that could be used and customized for most.
The next step for us grew into Assessment Consulting Modules that could be designed around the needs of our Educational Partners. This included a “backwards” planning method to help ensure the multitude of assessment data the academies collect would actually help answer their ultimate questions and lead to evidence driven action plans.
From beginning to end the Assessment Consulting Modules are designed to lead participants through best practices of student learning outcome (SLO) assessment. The series begins by exploring why we engage in assessment and by defining a roadmap to creating a culture of evidence on campuses. Participants will then have opportunities to develop and connect SLOs and rubrics that apply directly to their unique curriculum. Our end goal is to provide specific strategy and design suggestions that translate into meaningful and sustainable assessment plans.
Following is a brief description of a few of the modules:
This module looks at the relational aspect of student learning outcomes within an academic institution. Intentional and explicit alignment of each outcome from the discrete course level to the increasingly broader, program, department, campus or institutional level is examined. The mapping concept is designed to provide opportunities and evidence of student learning at various stages of the curriculum.
Measuring and assessing students’ demonstration of learning through the use of rubrics is the focus of this module. Designing an assessment rubric using explicit criteria statements and identification of examples of student performance at varying mastery levels of each outcome is presented. Included are comprehensive and clear rubric exemplars.
SLOs and Impact on Course Design
Quality course SLOs are the foundation for assessing student learning. Quality assessment of student performance requires those SLOs to be purposefully aligned to the learning activities, assessment activities and schedule of the course. In this module participants use a modified card-sort method to analyze the relationship of the course’s design to the SLOs and inform design changes to optimize student learning.
Fostering Faculty Ownership of Campus Assessment Culture
Assessing students’ mastery of learning outcomes falls primarily within the scope of faculty responsibility so it is critical they be an integral stakeholder in the development of campus assessment plans. Faculty engagement is further fostered by focusing on improving the student learning experience. This module provides tangible actions for academic leaders working to integrate faculty into the development of campus assessment culture.
We are no longer living in academic silos and must use web services and other technology enhanced services (along with colleagues) to link information similar to using Lego blocks. The design can be simple or very complex. The creativity is unlimited if we begin by understanding the combination of links within assessment and then proceed connecting until we have designed an application that fits real-time teaching and learning. Collaborate and customize!
Karen R. Owens, Ph.D.
Higher Education Assessment Consultant
Assessment & Analytics Group