Accreditation Evidence - 2021 Midterm Report

Student Learning Outcomes (Standard I.B.2)

ACCJC Standard I.B.2 states: "The institution defines and assesses student learning outcomes for all instructional programs and student and learning support services."

Reflect on the college's assessment processes since the last comprehensive review:

  • What are the strengths of the process that helps lead the college to improve teaching and learning?

Since the last comprehensive review, the College has strengthened the assessment processes in several primary ways that have allowed it to document the improvements in teaching and learning that are linked to assessment. First, the College has improved the ways that assessment dialog leads directly to planning by locating that inside the program review reporting process for both instructional programs and student support services. This has the benefit of locating the assessment-planning link in one central place that each area must examine annually. This process has been described in this Midterm Report in the College’s responses to Recommendation 4 and Recommendation 6, with evidentiary documents associated with each of the responses (SLO.1, SLO.2).

The second notable improvement has been to shift from capturing assessment dialog in the College’s in-house, “legacy system” for reporting course and program assessment dialog to the eLumen interface, a change that will be complete by fall 2021. Faculty who have piloted the eLumen assessment system have indicated that it better integrates with their classroom processes and have noted that it is easier to enter material in the reflection template dialog section. The College has also implemented the eLumen system in a manner that requires all course-level outcomes to be assessed at one time, which greatly facilitates both course- and program-level dialog that leads to planning actions. At the same time, the student services areas will report their assessment findings and dialog in the program review reporting template itself.

Thirdly, the College regularly updates its Assessment Handbook to reflect current practices. The most recent update to the Handbook features sections on eLumen, assessment dialog reporting and capture, and the connection to the program review process (SLO.3).

The College also engages in regular assessment training that centers on meaningful, authentic assessment (SLO.15). This has contributed to the development of clearly defined, measurable, and routinely assessed student learning outcomes for every course, program and service area. The College has also acted to map and assess general education areas and institutional learning outcomes on a regular basis. Instructional course learning assessments are directly mapped to the corresponding general education outcome(s) and are assessed on the College’s regular four-year cycle (SLO.4, SLO.5, SLO.6, SLO.7). Student service area outcomes are mapped to the institutional learning outcomes to facilitate that assessment (SLO.8, SLO.9, SLO.10, SLO.11, SLO.12, SLO.13, SLO.14).

  • What growth opportunities in the assessment process has the college identified to further refine its authentic culture of assessment?

The College has identified a need to more clearly present “closing the loop” documentation in its assessment processes. As noted above, the College has made strides since the last comprehensive review to centralize the documentation of assessment dialog and the link between that and planning. Following the implementation of program plans, outcome assessment measuring the impact of those plans occurs as a part of the regular cycle of the College’s established four-year assessment plan. Moving the assessment-planning-reassessment documentation into the program review reporting process should allow the College to refine its “closing the loop” process.

The second growth opportunity involves the full implementation of the eLumen tool for assessment. This will begin in fall 2021 and should allow for more meaningful dialog about assessment results and improvement, because all course-level outcomes will be assessed at once, allowing for more authentic program-level outcome reflection and planning. The eLumen system will more easily capture the dialog, as compared with the “legacy system,” (SLO.16) and the planning actions resulting from the assessment reflections are reported in the program review forms. Reassessment following planning implementation, so-called “closing the loop”, will also be facilitated with all course-level outcomes being assessed at one time.

  • Provide examples where course, program, or service improvements have occurred based on outcomes assessment data.

The College has been using outcomes assessment data to improve courses, programs and services for some time. A number of the older examples can be found on the “Closed Loops” section of the College’s assessment page (SLO.17). Upward Bound provides a good example from a student service area in this regard. On the “Closed Loops” page, Upward Bound conducted an assessment of its outcome “Upward Bound participants will demonstrate completion of a rigorous state or federal secondary curriculum of study by the end of their senior year of high school,” determined that the data could be improved and came up with a number of strategies to implement (SLO.18). After implementing the plans the Upward Bound personnel reassessed the outcome and discovered that the metric had improved (SLO.19). Student service program assessment and improvement plans are also located in the program review reporting forms. The dialog about assessment results leads directly to area planning that is located in the program review document, along with an analysis and dialog about “program indicators”, which are also data-driven metrics. For example, the College’s Academic Support Center (ASC) assessed one of its outcomes, determined that a change was necessary, cited the assessment and discussed the plan in the program review report and evaluated the effectiveness of the plan in the subsequent program review report (SLO.33, SLO.34, SLO.35, SLO.36). The CalWORKS program offers another example of how student services assessment informs the creation of programmatic plans that are then evaluated for their effectiveness. In the same way as the ASC example, this process appears both in assessment reports as well as in the program review reports for the program (SLO.37, SLO.38, SLO.39).

Instructional areas use the “Closed Loops” area to report on assessments that led to programmatic improvements as in this example from a General Studies 1 course-level outcome assessment (SLO.20), in this example from a Forestry and Natural Resources course (SLO.21) and in this example from an Art Appreciation course (SLO.22).

At the program level, this 2019 Sociology program outcome assessment revealed that “one area of need is that if sociology continues to teach a separate methodology course the college will need to support this in the form of institutional resources (e.g. a dedicated statistical software subscription and computer lab).” This resulted in the discontinuation of the methods course as the improvement option taken by the faculty in that area which allowed students on the College’s Del Norte campus a way to complete the associate degree for transfer (AA-T) in Sociology, without having to drive the three or more hours to the Eureka campus to complete the methods course (SLO.23). Similarly, a program-level outcome assessment for the Biology AA-T uncovered a problem with the course sequencing, which led to the program improvement noted in the subsequent program review report (SLO.25, SLO.26). Additionally the Biology faculty, as a result of similar findings from a number of course-level assessments, developed plans starting in 2017-18 to improve student writing in all of the Biological sciences courses (SLO.27, SLO.28, SLO.29). The assessment findings led to the creation of a course called Biology 7S (Writing Support for Human Physiology), which was first offered in spring 2020 (SLO.30). Lastly, assessment data analysis led to the creation of a course in mathematics that is specifically designed for students selecting a “STEM” major but who lack algebra skills (SLO.31, SLO.32).

  • In those areas where assessment may be falling behind, what is the college doing to complete the assessments per the college's schedule?

In order to best ensure that disciplines and service areas assess their outcomes within the established four-year cycle, the College has implemented several initiatives. First, in 2015 the College created a team of Associate Deans and Directors in each of the larger areas, like Arts and Humanities, to become the “drivers” of assessment implementation. Previously, the responsibility to remain “on track” fell on each individual faculty or staff member in their discipline or area (SLO.40). The team of Associate Deans and Directors now meets regularly to track progress and the implementation of assessment requirements.

Secondly, the College has better integrated assessment and program review, especially in student services areas. Student service outcome assessment reporting, dialog and planning now occurs on the program review form itself, which is an annual document compiled by personnel in each of the student services areas. At least 50% of their outcomes need to be assessed each year, making their cycle more frequent than the four-year cycle for instructional program assessment.

Third, the Assessment Committee revised the assessment dialogue process and adopted an annual assessment conference each fall term where program faculty convene to engage in review and discussion of course and program outcome assessment, working together to design and implement improvement actions at the course and program level. As we engage this new process, a key initiative is to survey existing course and program assessment reports for open loops and other opportunities to revitalize the use of assessment results in program planning.

Evidence: Provide evidence to support the information and narrative described above.

Evidence Sources Below.

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