The purpose of this Handbook is to provide in a readily accessible format the resources to continue our progress not only in documenting efforts and results of our assessment program, but also to provide a format for the use of assessment results to improve student learning and to inform curricular change.
Levels of Assessment of Student Learning
Ideally, assessment of student learning should occur at all three levels of the curriculum: at the Course level, at the General Education level, and at the Program level. These three levels of assessment are ongoing processes that have been designed to provide information about student learning and to direct curricular improvement. To learn more, select from the menu at the right.
The Assessment "Plan" versus The Assessment "Process"
One of the challenges of early assessment initiatives was the drafting of an exhaustive assessment plan. The quest for the perfect plan may have been one of the greater barriers to actually "doing assessment." Like the old strategic plans that were written only to sit on the shelf until the next planning cycle (usually several years out), assessment plans often remained just that--plans. Often unwieldy and impractical, assessment plans designed for accreditation compliance failed to demonstrate the actual purposes for which they were written: to document student learning in a dynamic way as to provide information for the improvement of student learning as well as to provide information to internal and external stakeholders about students' knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
Another barrier was the design of the assessment process itself. Many institutions designed a course-embedded model of assessment. By course-embedded, it is meant that all three levels of assessment of student learning originate within the confines of the course itself. Curriculum maps, while useful to display scope and sequence of instructional intent, reinforced the idea that the primary means of conducting assessment focused on individual courses instead of the curriculum as a whole. With General Education distribution course requirements encompassing a wide variety of options, assessment of General Education proved difficult to design and implement a common instrument that would work in all departments and courses, and yet produce comparable data. The other challenge involved faculty loads and time constraints to score/grade key assignments or student products twice, once for the course grade and once for the assessment process.
Not surprisingly, like many other colleges, LCOOCC was required by HLC to submit a Monitoring Report on Assessment by November 2009.
In 2007, with the help of Dr. Eliot Elfner of St Norbert College and a consultant with Institutional Effectiveness Associates, our faculty stepped back from looking at big plans for assessment and began the productive work of writing three to five student learning outcomes that could be assessed near the end of the students' associate degree career. The General Education Sub-Committee of the Committee of Curriculum and Assessment trimmed a list of 18 individual general education objectives to five general education learning outcomes. Each associate degree program was charged to write a few good outcomes that would be assessed for the first time after the end of the 2008 spring semester. For each outcome, two "Means of Assessment" (MOAs) were designed and the Criterion for Success were specified.
Not a lot of planning. But a lot of doing!
The First Annual Assessment Day, held in May 2008, produced the first cycle of student learning outcome data. Faculty returned for two days after Graduation and were assigned to teams to apply and score student products collected from selected courses. By the time they returned for the fall semester, the first cycle of data and the lessons learned using the rubrics became the starting point of preparing for the Second Annual Assessment Day in May 2009. It is almost as if the Report generated from the data was secondary to the discovery that our students do well in many areas, but we need to take a look at areas that need improvement. With each cycle of assessment, the emphasis is on learning on the part of all, not just planning for something that is required to be done.
Below are the Assessment Forms that are used at LCOOCC for our Assessment of Student Learning process. On the right banner are areas that contain our assessment processes and results, as well as the rubrics utilized in our process.
Assessment Forms Used at LCOOCC
Forms adapted from Institutional Effectiveness Associates. Permission Granted, ©2000