Progress: Concerns and Solutions

The same report outlines several weaknesses of the system and gives an overview of how the team approached the concerns:

  • Voluntary CAAP testing for value-added studies produced a small sample. Solution: The subcommittee created a new system which tests incoming students during their orientation courses. Faculty discussion of how to improve student engagement during the second (sophomore) testing cycle ensued. A capstone course experience was discussed as a viable alternative.
  • Alignment reports filed and summarized in the Spring of 2005 indicated a broad and deep plan to assess all six of the General Education Competencies; however, reports actually filed resulted in insufficient data in two areas. Solution: The Core Team, at the recommendation of the general education subcommittee, devised a data collection cycle which would focus on two competencies per year and would align standards across the faculty so that data aggregated would be statistically significant.
  • Faculty reported receiving mixed messages from Core Team members. Solution: The Core Team recognizes that creating an organic system has led to multiple interpretations about the parameters of the system and the physical requirements of the Assessment Folder. The Core Team has made a concerted effort to assign members to certain areas so that continuity is provided for faculty and confusion is minimized.
  • Faculty reported difficulty using the Assessment Folder system. Solution: The Core Team has provided multiple training sessions but ultimately recognizes that the interface is confusing for those accustomed to web-based documentation or those without current technology skills. It is hoped that the recent purchase of Sharepoint software, which allows personal folder storage in the system, will eliminate problems associated with email and attachments, as well as saving to personal hard drives. The Core Team is also exploring commercial databases which may mimic more traditional web-based products and provide a better comfort level for faculty.

Continuing Concerns and Solutions

There are some areas of concern which do not have simple resolutions but which require major shifts in attitude or culture.

  • Despite considerable time and effort in planning faculty development, some faculty members perceive the assessment process as an administrative hoop rather than an integral part of the formalized teaching and learning process. Solution: On-going mentoring by committee members and area facilitators to help those faculty members discover assessment tools and practices which they can perceive as beneficial to their daily teaching.

  • The College had not attained the level of student engagement in the process that we had hoped for. Solution: one member of the Core Team has been charged with coordinating student engagement, and the brochure and partnership with PSY 100 faculty have improved student engagement.

  • Some course outlines for the College still reflect the initial objectives and assessments previously developed under the old mission statement. There is some disconnect between objectives being measured for assessment and objectives stated for course completion. Solution: An all-day workshop on course outlines and syllabi helped to align classroom outcomes with the stated outcomes on course outlines. Faculty were excited to revisit earlier work on assessment and see how much their own systems had matured. Although there is still a need to bring the adjunct faculty together for the same workshop, the majority of class syllabi reflect outcomes which are aligned to the mission and goals of the College.