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Assessment of Student Learning in General Education. AAHE/NCA 2003 Assessment Workshop Omaha, Nebraska ● June 2003. Mesa ● Arizona Presenter: Gail Mee ● Dean of Instruction Mesa Community College Session Objectives. Participants will:

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assessment of student learning in general education

Assessment of Student Learning in General Education

AAHE/NCA 2003 Assessment Workshop

Omaha, Nebraska ● June 2003

Mesa ● Arizona


Gail Mee ● Dean of Instruction

Mesa Community College

session objectives
Session Objectives

Participants will:

  • Recognize the characteristics of a successful program to assess general education outcomes.
  • Determine how assessment results can be used to improve the curriculum, instruction, and student learning.
why assess student learning in general education
Why Assess Student Learning in General Education?
  • To respond to demands for accountability from external constituents
  • To provide evidence of instructional effectiveness
why assess student learning in general education1
Why Assess Student Learning in General Education?
  • To document successes and identify weaknesses in the general education program
  • To improve the curriculum, instruction, and student learning in general education
what is institutional effectiveness
What is Institutional Effectiveness?

A comprehensive evaluation of the degree to which the entire college is accomplishing all aspects of its educational mission

institutional effectiveness outcomes
Institutional Effectiveness Outcomes
  • Describe indicators that the college’s mission is being achieved.
  • Example: Students will express satisfaction with the quality of the instructional program.
what is student outcomes assessment
What is Student Outcomes Assessment?

The measurement and documentation of the degree to which students are attaining specific learning outcomes defined and valued by faculty and the college community.

student learning outcomes
Student Learning Outcomes
  • Describe, in measurable terms, what students will be able to do, what they will know, and/or attitudes they will hold as the result of a program of study.
  • Example: “Students will be able to construct and deliver a clear, well-organized verbal presentation.”
levels of student outcomes assessment
Levels of Student Outcomes Assessment
  • Classroom
  • Course
  • Program: above the course
    • General Education
    • Degrees (e.g., AA, BA, MA)
purpose of assessment
Purpose of Assessment

“The overriding purpose of assessment is to understand how educational programs are working and to determine whether they are contributing to student growth and development. Hence, the ultimate emphasis of assessment is on programs rather than on individual students.”

Palomba & Banta, 1999 Assessment Essentials

characteristics of a successful program to assess general education1
Characteristics of a Successful Program to Assess General Education
  • Assessment of student learning begins with educational values.

AAHE, 2001


2. The college makes a long-term commitment.


3. The CAO and other instructional leaders understand and believe in value of assessment.

CAO has responsibility for leadership of assessment.

CAO encourages participation and provides support for faculty involvement and professional development.

CAO ensures that results are used appropriately.


4. Faculty lead the program and own the results.

Faculty define student learning outcomes.

Faculty identify or develop appropriate tools for assessment.

Faculty implement the assessment program.

Faculty use assessment results to make programmatic changes and improve learning.


5. Faculty lead the program and own the results, (continued)

Faculty governing body is an integral part of the assessment process.

A majority of faculty are knowledgeable about assessment vocabulary and practice.

Faculty pursue development opportunities related to assessment.


6. Technical expertise and support are provided.

Research Office plays a formal support role, or knowledgeable staff or faculty play that role.

Roles of faculty and technical support staff are clearly defined.


7. Learning outcomes are clearly defined at the program level.

The difference between “course” and “program” assessment is clear.

The college has clearly identified “programs”.

Student learning is assessed at the completion of a program.


8. Measurement tools align directly with learning outcomes.

Outcomes are clearly defined before measures are developed.

Selected measures match the defined outcomes.

direct and indirect measures
Direct and Indirect Measures
  • Direct Measures: directly assess the skills and abilities described in the learning outcomes.
  • Indirect Measures: rely on reports from students and others about student attitudes, experiences, or what they have learned.
measures aligned with outcomes
Measures aligned with outcomes

Example: Mesa Community College (AZ)

  • Learning Outcome Area: Arts and Humanities Outcomes:
  • Demonstrate
      • Knowledge of human creations
      • Awareness of context
      • Impact on audience
      • Evaluate creations

Arts and Humanities

Outcomes Assessment



Visual Arts

Famous Words

Music and Its Context

A Story Told – and Imagined

visual arts


Visual Arts

The following photo was taken of a recent art exhibit

1. After seeing it, describe your immediate personal response to this exhibit.



The American Dream Goes to Pot

Kate Millet - 1970

2. The title and date of the work are now displayed. Describe how this information might affect your perceptions of the work.


3. Identify elements in this particular exhibit that qualify it to be considered art.

4. Imagine (and describe) possible historical, political, and/or economic contexts (circumstances) in which this exhibit might have been created.

5. Finally, consider the creator’s message. Describe two or more differing experiences or reactions other observers might carry away.

“The American Dream Goes to Pot”


9. The program has a viable research design

There is a systematic plan identifying who is assessed, how they will be assessed, etc.

(for example, longitudinal design, pre- post design, cross-sectional design, matched group)


10. Sound methodology is used for data collection and analysis.

There is a systematic plan for gathering, analyzing, reporting, and disseminating the results.


11. Results are used by faculty to improve learning.

A process is in place for sharing results with faculty.

Faculty are making changes to curriculum and instruction based upon assessment results.


12. Assessment is linked to college planning.

Results are used to develop department plans.

Results of assessment inform college planning and budgeting decisions.

sustained assessment for the long term
Sustained Assessment for the Long Term
  • Create an expectation for assessment among students
    • Catalog, schedule, student handbook, student newspaper, web sites
  • Disseminate the results of assessment
    • Annual assessment reports, faculty publications, newsletters, web sites
  • Constantly evaluate the outcomes, measures, procedures, and results
sustaining assessment continued
Sustaining Assessment, continued.
  • Link assessment results to planning and budgeting processes.
  • Engage faculty in decision-making during every stage of the process.
  • Allow the program to evolve and mature.
assessment and student learning
Assessment and Student Learning
  • Student outcomes assessment places learning at the center of the academic program and the student experience.