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Focusing on Student Learning. Developing Assessment Systems for Student and Program Development May 24, 2006 Forsyth Tech Community College. Agenda. Why are we doing this? Translating instructors’ intentions into  student learning outcomes Developing: Instructional objectives

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focusing on student learning

Focusingon Student Learning

Developing Assessment Systems


Student and Program Development

May 24, 2006

Forsyth Tech Community College

  • Why are we doing this?
  • Translating instructors’ intentions into  student learning outcomes
  • Developing:
    • Instructional objectives
    • Assessment tasks
    • Evaluation tools
task 1 pre assessment

Task #1: Pre-Assessment

Please complete the survey, marking the left hand column (how much you know prior to the workshop)

why did lucy get a c
Why did Lucy get a C?
  • Write down at least one question that comes to mind when you read the cartoon.
  • What is Lucy questioning?
  • How could the teacher avoid questions regarding his/her basis for grading?
why did lucy get a c6
Why did Lucy get a C?
  • Write down at least one question that comes to mind when you read the cartoon.
  • What is Lucy questioning?
  • How could the teacher avoid questions regarding his/her basis for grading?
what are some questions
How do we clearly communicate performance expectations to students?

What is “fair” or equitable? Do we give some students a “break” because their parents get faulty clothes hangers?

Do we reward effort? If so, how do we define it?

Do we advantage or disadvantage certain students by how we measure performance/achievement?

If students don’t perform well on assessments, does that mean we did not teach well? How do we know whether or not we did? Do faculty evaluations provide a better picture of how well we teach?

Is it important to have students create coat hanger sculptures? Or to perform well on any of our assessments?

Important to whom? Why?

What kinds of student outcomes do we value personally as teachers and collectively as a faculty?

What are some questions?
focusing on student learning8
Focusing on Student Learning

“Institutional assessment should not be concerned about

valuing what can be measured,

but, instead, about measuring that which is valued.”

-- Banta, T.W. et. al.

goals for today
Goals for today…

Participants will be able to:

  • Explain how student assessment can enhance student engagement/ learning and promote program development;
  • Begin or continue the process to:

a) Articulate goals for student learning;

b) Translate goals into instructional objectives stated terms of student

learning outcomes;

c ) Identify or develop assessment tasks;

d) Select or develop evaluation tools.

  • Describe the changing context of assessment, accreditation, and accountability in higher education.
starting with what we do well

Starting with what we do well…

Being accountable:

Institutional Effectiveness

“Community colleges are prominent among the leaders in higher education in establishing indicators of institutional effectiveness, gathering benchmark data, and using findings to improve the satisfaction of students and other community constituents.” Trudy Banta, Editor’s Notes, 1995
Assessment, planning, and budget are integrated.

Objectives established by departments during program review become the basis for budget allocations.

north carolina community college performance measures
Progress of Basic Skills Students

Passing Rates on Licensure/Certification Exams

Goal Completion for Completers

Employment Rate of Graduates

Performance of College Transfer Students

Passing Rates in Developmental Courses

Success rate of developmental students in subsequent college level courses

Student satisfaction

Retention, graduation rates

Employer satisfaction

Business/Industry satisfaction with services provided

Program enrollment

North Carolina Community College Performance Measures
forsyth tech s record
Forsyth Tech’s Record…
  • Basic skills students meet state benchmarks (82% compared to system average of 79%)
  • Aggregate passing rates on licensure/certification exams is equal to NC 86% pass rate
  • Employment rate is reported at 99.05%
  • 90% (state 80%) students pass developmental courses
  • Satisfaction of completers = 93% (state 97%)
  • Business/industry satisfaction with services 100% (100%)
back to trudy banta
Back to Trudy Banta…

Peterson (1999)

  • 2,524 non-proprietary postsecondary institutions AS/BS
  • 1,393 (55%) responded

“Compared to all institutions, associate of arts institutions are less likely to collect cognitive and affective data, less likely to use student-centered methods in collecting data, and less likely to conduct studies of student performance…”

how would this change what we do
Outcomes-based (MBO) assessment:

“Outcomes (objectives on the tactical plans),

developed by all instructional departments and administrative and educational support service departments,

are statements describing what each department’s staff/faculty members desire to be the results of their efforts.”

Annual FTCC Plan, 2004-2005

Assessing Student Learning Outcomes:

Directly examining

the knowledge, skills, and abilities

that a student has attained

at key points in his or her progress

through a set of higher education experiences and

in the first years of practice.

How would this change what we do?
creating assessment systems shared commitments
Creating Assessment Systems--Shared Commitments

Faculty share a commitment to:

  • A set of student learning outcomes;
  • Common assessments within programs;
    • across course sections;
  • Collecting, compiling, analyzing, reporting, and using the results of assessments of student learning
    • To improve candidate performance
    • To improve programs
    • To improve policies and procedures.
what am i going to get out of this
What am I going to get out of this?
  • Shared expectations of student performance
  • Clear communication of expectations
  • Enhanced student performance
  • Ability of students, faculty, programs/departments to self-advocate
  • A system of program evaluation which includes evaluation of student learning outcomes.


What are some of the potential benefits of establishing student assessment systems?

why assess student learning
Why assess student learning?
  • Enhances Student Engagement
  • Continuous improvement of Curriculum, Instruction, and Student Performance
  • Promotes Professional Community (inquiry, reflection, scholarship of practice)
  • Enables students, faculty, programs, and institutions to Self-Advocate

-- able to participate in data-based decision-making

  • Better reflects the complexity, extent, and impact of Faculty Work
  • Helps us achieve ourInstitutional Mission
  • Develops Public Trust
student engagement
Student Engagement
  • Embedded assessment: student has to be actively engaged (cannot be passive learner)
  • Clear expectations, models of performance
  • Self-evaluation
  • Assessing knowledge, skills, dispositions required for practice (meaningful)
  • Can use products of assessments in job search, etc.
improve curriculum instruction student performance
Improve Curriculum, Instruction, Student Performance
  • JMU: “major dividend of ongoing assessment has been greater faculty involvement. This process ensures that curriculum decisions remain in the hands of those who deliver the curriculum.”
  • curriculum = assessment = curriculum…”real-time,” on-going examination and improvement of teaching and curriculum
  • Provides a focus for instruction.
  • Clarifies expectations of students.
  • Ensures we provide appropriate opportunities for reaching expectations.
  • Clearly communicates target, average, below average, unsatisfactory performance
  • Avoids overlap or oversight; ensures comprehensiveness of curriculum
  • Grounds curriculum in practice
inquiry growth and professional community
Inquiry, Growth, and Professional Community
  • Dialog: values, commitments, what matters most, common expectations, level of performance, opportunities for learning…
  • Become a learning organization
  • Cross-disciplinary connections
  • Leadership opportunities among faculty
  • Establish connections with practitioners
  • Highlight successes of students, programs, faculty
self advocacy
  • Students have concrete evidence of what they know and can do
  • Faculty are able to document their impact on students
  • Contributes to the scholarship of practice
  • Programs, divisions, institutions have array of information
provides a fuller picture of faculty work
Provides a Fuller Picture of Faculty Work
  • Outcomes such as graduation/retention rates don’t always capture the impact of faculty efforts
  • Helps us “tell our story”:
    • efforts in providing learning opportunities
    • the complex and multidimensional nature of learning
  • Helps make students more accountable for their part in the learning process
enhance public trust
Enhance Public Trust
  • General public, potential students and families, politicians…
  • Federal, state, public push for accountability
  • The role of anecdotes
  • Quality assurance: accreditation
accomplish institutional mission
Accomplish Institutional Mission
  • Mission  

Graduates of Forsyth Tech are

    • technically skilled,
    • regionally and globally oriented,
    • prepared for lifelong learning and full civic engagement and employment.
assessment and accountability

Assessment and Accountability

Professional standards’ boards have moved from “input” measures

 to management by objectives

to documentation of student


and have moved from

examining institutions

 to examining programs.

assessment and accountability29
Assessment and Accountability
  • Council for Higher Education Accreditation: CHEA
    • American Association of Community Colleges
    • Commission on the Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
    • Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
    • Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology
    • Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology
    • North Carolina Board of Nursing
    • Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology
    • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
council for higher education accreditation
Council for Higher Education Accreditation

“Accrediting organizations are responsible for establishing clear expectations that institutions and programs will routinely

  • define,
  • collect,
  • interpret, and
  • use evidence of student learning outcomes.”
council for higher education accreditation31
Council for Higher Education Accreditation:

“More specifically:

  • regularly gather and report concrete evidence about what students know and can do as a result of their respective courses of study,
  • framed in terms of established learning outcomes and
  • supplied at an appropriate level of aggregation.”

Supplement this with information about other dimensions of effective institutional or program performance…

Prominently feature relevant evidence of student learning outcomes.”

Statement of Mutual Responsibilities for Student Learning Outcomes: Accreditation, Institutions, and Programs (September, 2003)

  • 3.4.1 The institution demonstrates that each educational program for which academic credit is awarded (a) is approved by the faculty and the administration, and (b) establishes and evaluates program and learning outcomes.
  • 3.5.1 The institution identifies college-level competencies within the general education core and provides evidence that graduates have attained those competencies.
commission on accreditation of allied health education programs
Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

“Evaluations of students must be conducted on a recurrent basis and with sufficient frequency to provide both the students and program faculty with valid and timely indications of the students’ progress toward and achievement of the competencies and learning domains stated in the curriculum.”

abet technology accreditation commission
ABET Technology Accreditation Commission

“Each engineering technology program must have in place published educational objectives consistent with mission and with ABET criteria…”

“…Must utilize multiple assessment measures in a process that provides documented results to demonstrate that the program objectives and outcomes are being met..”

[examples include]: “student portfolios, student performance in project work and activity-based learning; national exams; employer and graduate surveys..”

joint review committee on education in radiologic technology
Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology

“A program’s goals are a more specific expression of the programs’ intended student learning outcomes. The goals should be written using behavioral terms and should address the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. They must be measurable, preferably through the use of more than one measurement tool.”

-- JRCERT Guide for Program Analysis (05/05)

  • Identify, communicate, and assess clear, measurable student learning outcomes
    • Behavioral statements; cognitive, affective, psychomotor learning domains
    • Based on institutional, departmental/program, state, and national standards
  • Establish a system for directly assessing student achievement of objectives
    • Multiple assessments across time
      • including graduate and employer surveys
    • Collect, compile, report, and use results to improve student performance, programs, and organization
identifying student outcomes

Identifying Student Outcomes

Translating program goals and instructors’ intentions into instructional objectives

stated in terms of student learning outcomes.

communicating goals and objectives

Communicating goals and objectives

Beginning with some examples and

the importance of verbs…

behavioral cognitive affective psychomotor using a framework to guide us
“Behavioral…cognitive, affective, psychomotor”Using a Framework to guide us

Benjamin Bloom’s

Taxonomy of Learning Domains

Cognitive: mental skills (Knowledge)

Affective: growth in feelings or emotional area (Attitudes)

Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (Skills)

Writing Instructional Objectives

There are a number of approaches to writing instructional objectives:

  • Mager -- Behavioral objectives
  • Eisner -- Expressive objectives

Gronlund -- General/specific objectives

Writing Instructional Objectives

Mager proposes writing specific statements about observable outcomes that can be built up to become a curriculum (an inductive approach).

  • An example of a behavioral objective:

Given 3 minutes of class time, the student will solve 9 out of 10 multiplication problems of the type: 5 X 4 = _____.

Writing Behavioral Objectives

Three Parts of a Behavioral Objective

In an oral presentation,

the student will paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther Kings's I Have a Dream address,

mentioning at least 3 of the 5 major points discussed in class.

Writing Instructional Objectives

Eisner proposes that not all instructional objectives should focus on outcome; some should focus on the learning process itself (expressive objectives).

  • Examples of expressive objectives:
  • Students will attend a live symphony
  • performance.

b. Students will use multiplication in

everyday activities.

Writing Instructional Objectives

Gronlund proposes starting with a general statement and providing specific examples of topics to be covered or behaviors to be observed (a deductive approach).

stating instructional objectives curricular questions
Stating Instructional Objectives:Curricular Questions

Create a basic document in a spreadsheet.

  • Enter text and values into an application.
  • Write formulas to calculate simple and multi-segment problems
  • Format cells to display data appropriately
  • Embed charts into the spreadsheet
  • Display the sheet in worksheet and formula views
  • Print document in both views and in landscape or portrait format.
Writing Instructional Objectives

Examples of general/specific objectives

  • Students will detect the use of stereotypes.
    • identify situations in which stereotypes might emerge
    • recall or identify indicators or clues of stereotyping:
      • use of overgeneralization, exaggeration
      • linking features together that are not logically linked (blonds are dumb)
      • use of vague words (shifty)
      • use of extremes or absolutes (never, none, all)
      • absence of individual attributes or variations
    • locate other information and examples which counter stated characteristics
    • determine if communication includes indicators of stereotyping
Writing Instructional Objectives

Examples of general/specific objectives (affective):

  • Displays a scientific attitude:
  • demonstrates curiosity in identifying problems
  • seeks natural causes of events
  • demonstrates open-mindedness when seeking answers
  • suspends judgment until obtains all possible evidence
  • respects evidence from credible sources
  • shows objectivity in analyzing evidence and drawing conclusions
  • seeks ways to verify results
  • shows willingness to revise conclusions as new evidence becomes available
writing instructional objectives
Writing Instructional Objectives

Examples of General Objectives

Write an essay.

Apply systematic strategies to monitor and improve personal health.

Set up and operate graphics design equipment.

Apply principles of radiation safety and protection.

Process appointments in a timely and accurate manner.

Develop a basic database using a database application.

Other examples?

task 3 trying our hand

Task #3: Trying our hand….

Translating goals and intentions into instructional objectives stated in terms of student learning outcomes

stating instructional objectives
Stating Instructional Objectives
  • Principles of electricity.
  • Comprehends principles of electricity.

Topic vs. student learning outcome.

stating instructional objectives52
Stating Instructional Objectives
  • Comprehends assigned reading material.
  • To increase students’ reading ability.

Describe student’s learning behavior rather than teacher’s teaching behavior.

stating instructional objectives53
Stating Instructional Objectives
  • Gains knowledge of basic principles of radiation safety and protection.
  • Applies basic principles of radiation safety and protection in new situations.

#1 = the learning process rather than the learning outcome (knows, develops skills in, acquires, understands, learns). Another pitfall includes describing the learning activity: create a diorama; read seven journal articles, etc.

stating instructional objectives54
Stating Instructional Objectives

Explains the scientific method and applies it effectively.

“Explains and applies”---avoid more than one verb. Students may be able to do one but not the other, so is the objective met?

guided practice breaking verbs down into specific learning objectives
Guided Practice: Breaking verbs down into specific learning objectives

Students will evaluate [an Articles of Incorporation, a patient care plan, nuclear medicine image, essay].

  • Determine the purpose for analyzing;
  • Identify the criteria to use;
  • Identify idealized standards for each criterion;
  • Examine the information and identify evidence related to criteria;
  • Judge the degree of match of the evidence with idealized standards;
  • State results of analysis by summarizing patterns and giving examples of meeting/not meeting standards within the criteria.
stating specific instructional objectives guided practice
Stating Specific Instructional Objectives: Guided Practice

Generic objectives can often guide the development of content-specific objectives.

  • Students will demonstrate their knowledge of legal principles regarding the formation and maintenance of corporations or partnerships.
  • Comprehend basic principles
    • States principle in own words
    • Identifies examples of the principles
    • Distinguishes between correct and incorrect applications of the principle
    • Predicts an outcome based on the principle.

-- Gronlund, 2004, p. 19

stating instructional objectives curricular questions57
Stating Instructional ObjectivesCurricular Questions:

The nuclear medicine technologist provides patient care.

  • Acquires adequate knowledge of the patient’s medical history
  • Provides for proper comfort and care before, during, and after procedures
  • Recognizes surgical and disease factors that may create artifacts or variants on images
  • Identifies when data acquisition or data processing protocol must be modified
  • Provides safe and sanitary conditions
  • Establishes and maintains good communication with each patient.

IF THESE WERE OVERALL PROGRAM GOALS, how can we describe expectations for students when they are beginning their program and starting to learn about patient care?


task 3 stating general and specific instructional objectives
Task #3: Stating General and Specific Instructional Objectives
  • In groups of 2-3, select or state a general instructional objective.
  • Identify specific learning objectives for the general learning objective.
evaluation tools
Evaluation Tools
  • Checklists

__ 1. Sands and prepares surface properly. (check, +/-)

  • Numerical rating scales

4 3 2 1 a) Uses tools correctly for each task.

  • Numerical rating scales with descriptors

Selects appropriate equipment.

__Needs to be ___________________ Needs some help _____________selects proper

told what to use in selecting equipment independently

1 2 3 4 5

  • Rating scales:

3 = always, 2 = sometimes, 1 = never

a) Pays attention when problems are explained.

Student Assessment PlansIdentify program level student learning outcomes.Identify decision points as students progress and the assessments used to make decisions.
student assessment plans
Student Assessment Plans

Individual Student Inventory

  • Identify program-level student learning outcomes
  • Instructors document which outcomes students demonstrate within courses/clinical experiences.
  • Objectives = student learning outcomes
  • Objectives:
    • focus instruction,
    • guide learning,
    • provide criteria/standards for assessment,
    • convey instructional intent to others,
    • enable us to evaluate instruction.
  • Frameworks (Bloom’s Taxonomy): comprehensiveness
  • Verbs are the operative words!
  • Pitfalls: topic, teacher behavior, learning process/activity
  • Evaluation tools convey expectations for student performance (various levels of specificity)
  • Programs develop plans for documenting student performance
next steps task 4 teaching goals inventory
NEXT STEPS: Task #4: Teaching Goals Inventory

Help college teachers become more aware of what they want to accomplish in individual courses and across programs.

next steps
  • Review, update, or develop course-based assessment:
    • Identify general instructional objectives
    • Identify specific instructional objectives
    • Identify assessment tasks
    • Develop evaluation tools
  • Review, update, or develop program-level student assessment plan
    • Identify program- or departmental student learning outcomes
    • Identify a systematic process for assessing outcomes and for collecting, compiling, analyzing, reporting, and using the assessment data.