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Action Report 1

Action Project


Highland Community College




Jeff Davidson






  • Planned project kickoff date: 01-01-2005
  • Target completion date: 01-01-2005
  • Actual completion date: —

A. Give this Action Project a short title in 10 words or fewer:

Assessment of Student Learning

B. Describe this Action Project’s goal in 100 words or fewer:

The primary goal of this project is to make significant improvements in the college’s efforts in the area of assessment of student learning. We have had some success and progress but need to establish new quantitative assessments and begin to impact classroom teaching and learning. We wish to “close the loop” and be satisfied we do indeed have an ongoing cyclic process of data collection, analysis, instructional improvement, and enhanced student learning. Currently our efforts are primarily in the assessment of general education. With this project we will also define program outcomes and develop a corresponding cyclic program assessment process.

C. Identify the single AQIP Category which the Action Project will most affect or impact:

Primary Category: Helping Students Learn

D. Describe briefly your institution’s reasons for taking on this Action Project now — why the project and its goals are high among your current priorities:

Student learning and achievement is the primary goal of Highland Community College. For the college to know that it is meeting this goal and for it to become increasingly effective in attaining this goal at a high benchmark level, it must have a superior process to assess student learning. The college has worked on assessing general education outcomes for many years with some degree of success. However, we have never had consensus on the adequacy of our quantitative data acquisition or analysis. Nor have we systematically altered classroom instructional practices based on assessment data and been able to prove that modified instructional methods have improved student learning. In addition, our assessment efforts to date have primarily involved assessing general education outcomes. In order to continuously improve student learning and success we must also develop a program assessment process to assess the effectiveness of our various occupational and transfer programs beyond general education skills. We hope that this AQIP project will move our assessment efforts to a new level of effectiveness.

E. List the organizational areas – -institutional departments, programs, divisions, or units — most affected by or involved in this Action Project:

  1. Faculty and Academic Departments
  2. Student Advising
  3. Information Technology Services Department

F. Name and describe briefly the key organizational process(es) that you expect this Action Project to change or improve:

  1. Classroom Instruction
  2. Student Advising
  3. Faculty Professional Development
  4. Academic Department Goal Setting

G. Explain the rationale for the length of time planned for this Action Project (from kickoff to target completion):

We will form a broadly representative committee to oversee each action project. In addition to the specific task given to each committee, these committees will also be required to develop a program or system to regularly update the entire college community on the progress of the project. These committees will also need to be open to input from throughout the college community and will actively need to seek that input. Finally, the AQIP steering committee will regularly distribute an AQIP newsletter as a tool for continuous “marketing” of the AQIP function on campus.

H. Describe how you plan to monitor how successfully your efforts on this Action Project are progressing:

  1. Extent to which classroom instruction changes in response to assessment data 2. Extent to which advisors impart course/general education/program outcomes expectations to students 3. Number of faculty involved in assessment related professional development 4. Extent which academic departments include assessment discussions in department meetings

I. Describe the overall “outcome” measures or indicators that will tell you whether this Action Project has been a success or failure in achieving its goals:

  1. Faculty satisfaction and knowledge survey regarding assessment. 2. Extent to which student learning data are collected and used. 3 Extent to which faculty indicate changed instructional practices due to assessment data. 4. Extent to which student learning increases as proven by assessment data.

J. Other information (e.g., publicity, sponsor or champion, etc.):

  1. Determine what quantitative data will be collected for student learning assessment. 2. Identify program outcomes for all college academic programs. 3. Define assessment cycle timetable.1. Collect and analyze data and compare to previously collected data where applicable. 2. Identify and implement instructional changes. 3. Survey faculty and academic staff.1. Repeat assessment cycles. 2. Analyze data for learning improvements. 3. Survey faculty and academic staff regarding knowledge of and satisfaction with the assessment process.

K. Project Leader and contact person:

Contact Name: Vicki Jensen, Dean of Arts, Science and Learning
Phone: 815-599-3531   Ext.

Annual Update: 2005-09-09

A. Describe the past year’s accomplishments and the current status of this Action Project.

Identified program outcomes and assessment measures in the transfer programs of Humanities, Social Sciences, Fine Arts, and Natural Sciences. Developed program outcomes for the occupational degrees and certificates in agriculture, information systems, early childhood education, cosmetology & nail technology, automotive, accounting and business. Additional data was gathered relative to the general education outcomes of writing competency, math skills, technology related skills, interpersonal and inter-group behaviors, social and political diversity, and engagement in discussion of personal, professional, social, and global issues. Students completing basic algebra were post-tested in basic and applied arithmetic skills. Testing showed a 51% test score gain over pre-test. On average students who previously placed into arithmetic now placed beyond arithmetic. Several course sections of students completing Rhet & Comp II were post-tested using the same writing sample assignment they used upon entering the college. Scoring rubric was developed and used to assess five dimensions using a 0 to 3 point rubric. Results showed improvement in all 5 dimensions although “style” was still less than desired. 170 students and their instructors surveyed on their perceived competence in 4 other identified general education competencies. Average response was over 3 on 1-5 scale on all by both students and instructors.

Review (10-13-05):

The completion of identifying program outcomes and assessment measures for the transfer programs in Humanities, Social Sciences, Fine Arts and Natural Sciences manifests that the proposed AQIP Action Project on Assessment of Student Learning at Highland Community College is moving on target, which would provide the very basis of extending the current practice of its ongoing cyclic process of data collection, its analysis, instructional improvement, and enhancing student learning to the general education program. It is noted that the same process of identifying program outcomes also took place with several other occupational programs in agriculture, information systems, early childhood education, cosmetology & nail technology, automotive, accounting and business. Data were also collected through both the pre- and post-tests for identified general education skills in writing, and math skills. Analyses of the collected data began to yield some information about students’ achievement in those general education dimensions.

B. Describe how the institution involved people in work on this Action Project.

Implementation has been through deans and associate deans at the division level in faculty workgroups. 80% of full time faculty was involved in at least one activity related to the assessment of student learning. Hundreds of students in ten different courses provided post-test data or survey data. Project status was periodically reported to the AQIP steering committee composed of faculty, administration, and classified staff.

Review (10-13-05):

The involvement of this AQIP project occurred both at the upper level of academic deans and at the teaching level of faculty (80%) through the format of faculty workshops. A considerable number of students were also engaged in the process in the form of providing post-test data or survey data. The implementation process represented a desirable engagement of campus community.

C. Describe your planned next steps for this Action Project.

Gather data on program assessment measures for all programs, analyze data, identify potential instructional or curricular changes. Develop final transfer program assessment measures for mathematics and begin data collection. Identify specific communication and math general education competencies to assess this year, collect and analyze data, identify potential instructional or curricular changes. Finalize the schedule of assessment for all general education competencies. Revise the college’s assessment of student learning plan to include assessment schedules, required reporting, and status to date. Report assessment of student learning status at a college-wide meeting in August, 2006.

Review (10-13-05):

Specific plans have been set in the areas of extending the data collection process for all programs, making needed changes in teaching and/or curriculum, and finalizing assessment schedule for all general education competences. With all the planned activities, it would be important to ensure a process and/or system that would help a smooth implementation of all the planned activities (method of gathering all the collected data from various faculty and programs, time needed to perform the analyses of all the data and writing of the summary/reports of the analyses, disseminating the resultant analyses to appropriate groups of people who will utilize the information in making needed changes, all of which require carefully thought out organization so that all the logistics are taken care of.).

D. Describe any “effective practice(s)” that resulted from your work on this Action Project.

Faculty sponsor and participate in Discussions of Instructional Practices (DIP’s). Individual faculty investigate topics related to student learning of interest to them, develop presentations, and facilitate discussion with their colleagues in regularly scheduled sessions. Research and results are posted to the college’s intranet site so they are accessible to all instructors and all college employees. This report year a total of six DIP sessions were held during the fall, 2004 and spring, 2005 semesters, each with 6 to 20 faculty members participating and 1 to 3 academic deans. These discussions covered the various topics including formative assessment, formative and summative writing feedback, grading standards and practices, and developing community in the classroom. Evaluations of these sessions were positive with various suggestions for improvement.

Review (10-13-05):

Those reported ‘effective practices’ from faculty involvement and participation of the Discussions of Instructional Practices (DIPs) provide a good example or evidence of the emergence of a culture of improving teaching and student learning. Students will greatly benefit from such faculty initiated activities of investigating topics related to student learning (such as types of assessment, grading standards, development of learning community in the classroom). It is very pleasing to note that results from those faculty initiated activities are being shared with the whole campus community (through campus intranet), hence benefiting more campus constituents. The discussions with their peer colleagues provide another important linkage between research and practice for faculty to maximize their ‘discoveries’ of best practices in teaching.

E. What challenges, if any, are you still facing in regards to this Action Project?

The college’s general education student expectations include 6 outcome areas and 31 specific competencies. It is a challenge to implement assessment measures in a reasonable and effective way for all of these competencies that we have identified as important. Some assessments (communication and math) are quantitative and some assessments (interpersonal and inter-group behaviors, social and political diversity, and engagement in discussion of personal, professional, social, and global issues) are more subjective based on perception surveys of students and faculty. We believe that we will need to work out an assessment schedule that annually assesses some math and communication competencies, survey students and faculty on perceived competence on the majority of the other competencies and then quantitatively assess those competencies for which there is a significant perception difference, regarding achievement, between students and faculty. We will address this challenge in our Next Steps item “Finalize the schedule of assessment for all general education competencies.” We continue to gather a great deal of data but have not yet found an effective way to collate, reference, and use all of the data. The addition of an Institutional Researcher this academic year should have a positive impact on helping us with this challenge.

Review (10-13-05):

The described challenge is not uncommon among colleges in that there is always a need to balance between what is perceived as being important and how many of such important skills or competences can be expected to achieve in a reasonable way. The identified challenge could fall into two categories: decision on an obtainable range of skills/competencies by the students, and appropriate methodology of collecting and analyzing data on those select skills/competencies. Again, discussions on the former among faculty can provide another good learning opportunity of prioritizing assessment goals (what are the most important skills/competencies for students at Highland Community College as is advocated by the College Mission?), while the latter can be a good opportunity to engage more faculty, especially those who possess expertise in the area of conducting evaluation and research. With appropriate (research) design, it would provide guidelines and directions for the data collection process (what data to collect, how to collect the data needed, how to analyze the data, and what the analyses of such date mean).

F. If you would like to discuss the possibility of AQIP providing you help to stimulate progress on this action project, explain your need(s) here and tell us who to contact and when?

Not at this time.

Review (10-13-05):

None is requested at this time.