Back See this section in context: Criterion 3 Core Component 3A
3A.3: Clearly Differentiated Learning Goals
The Sauk assessment system is based on a hierarchy of student learning outcome statements, starting at the course level and occurring in various forms up through the programs, all in support of the Strategic Directions. All levels of assessment derive from faculty initiative and are regularly reviewed:
- Course level: Each course is described in a faculty-developed course outline, which is approved by the Curriculum Committee and stored on the website. These outlines, conforming to a college-standard template, include specific statements of the outcomes to be achieved in the course and the tools by which these outcomes may be measured. Both the administrator who signs the curriculum proposal and the Curriculum Committee are charged with assuring the presence of acceptable outcomes-based design. Course outcomes and appropriate assessments are in evidence in every course outline. Individual faculty use the outlines to establish the content and assessment tools for the course, in keeping with their personal teaching styles, and communicate the outcomes and assessments to students in a syllabus, for which there is also a college-standard template. Outlines are reviewed at least every five years to ensure that outcomes remain current.
- Program/discipline level: Faculty teaching within a particular discipline (transfer degree) or program (career degree) developed a set of outcomes for each degree when the 2003 Assessment Plan was designed. These outcomes represent those skills and habits of mind that the faculty believes a degree-holder should have. As described above, this portion of the system is in the process of redesign, and by spring 2012, a portion of the program and discipline objectives will remain, with others aggregating at the GECC area level in order to improve the efficacy of the assessment data in improving instruction, curriculum, and the institution’s academic offerings. Area and program objectives, established by the faculty, are regularly reviewed, as required by the Assessment Plan. Area Facilitators are charged with moderating faculty planning for assessment of at least one of these outcomes each year. In addition, the Program Review form includes a specific question about whether each objective has been assessed some time in the five-year period under consideration. This question serves as a prompt for the outcomes to be updated as needed.
- Area level: In the 2003 conception of assessment, the Area Level was designed to create outcomes for the General Education Core Curriculum areas required for a degree. These outcomes make statements about the skills and habits of mind that any holder of an Associate’s degree is expected to have mastered in acquiring the breadth of thought that higher education values. Programs were also grouped by Area, but only to manage the system under the Area Facilitators. In the 2010 revision of the Assessment Plan, the Area Level outcomes for the GECC have been reviewed and have generally subsumed discipline-level outcomes. In addition, the Program Areas have created common outcomes based on employment skills and habits of mind (described above). This change to the system has not eliminated the program and discipline outcomes, but rather broadened them to improve engagement and efficacy. Certain disciplines where a specific sequence of knowledge is required, such as education and music, may need to continue to assess discipline-level outcomes, as will some distinct programs, like nursing and criminal justice.
- Institution level: As described above, the Assessment Plan establishes the four over-arching goals which all of the other outcomes serve to measure. In addition, the General Education Competencies are maintained and assessed by the faculty at an institution level to provide an internal, formative assessment and engender institutional improvement. As an external, summative assessment of selected competencies, the CAAP test, to be administered every three years, provides data.