Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Assessment that doesn't turn off students

Skimming reddit revealed some thoughtful blog posts about the challenges of using assessment to support student learning. I highlight the following to provide a taste of the problem. One blog author describes the difficulty of turning formative assessment into a school exercise that turns off student engagement in learning by continually teaching to student deficits. The author recommends giving students more agency through project-based learning and better tools for self-assessment. The author is careful not to abandon the school-like "diagnostic" approaches to formative assessment entirely. Achieving a balance between diagnostic and self-guided assessment seems to be the goal to best support student learning.

Latest in CCSF Turnaround

Latest report from the Community College Times shows that the City College of San Francisco has identified a long-term "interim" chancellor to right the ailing college district, and appointed a "special trustee" who has the power to overturn board decisions.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

SF City College Does the Math

According to an advance report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the city college's plan to balance its budget to avoid losing accreditation focuses on finances, but not so much on student learning outcomes. More to be released in October.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Two interesting perspectives on the way higher ed assessment is turning. First, a communications professor from Florida State University, is using scores of social networking popularity called Klout in course grading. Second, a professor for a massive open online course (MOOC), which includes "tens of thousands" of students, is using "peer grading" to grade papers. An article from Inside Higher Ed captures the lack of consistency and rigor in peer grading. It is a course on the history of cyberstructure and is offered by Coursera through the University of Michigan. Two points: Asking peers to apply rubrics might be a first step, although I've noted in my own research that no two instructors apply the same rubrics in the same ways. Obtaining reliable grading takes time and practice. Perhaps such training and calibration processes need to be set up online? Second, I don't see anything wrong with incorporating a real world metric to students get a feel for it, but expecting them to develop a following in the 12 to 16 weeks of a course seems a bit unrealistic.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Student Learning Outcomes Spotlighted in SF City College Accreditation Crisis

The stiff rebuke accreditors handed the City College of San Francisco for financial and leadership weaknesses also underscored the uneven progress that the college has made in establishing clear student learning outcomes. Although little reported in the media coverage, which focused on the poor business practices that triggered the threat of lost accreditation, student learning outcomes were frequently cited as another overlooked area of leadership. At best, the college varies widely in its attention to student learning outcomes, or SLOs as educators call them. Departmental responses to the new learning review template have been uneven. Some departments meet the ideal of establishing outcomes, documenting evidence that they have been met, and developing procedures to use such data to improve instruction and curriculum. But many departments do little more the offer "incomplete information" or "cursory responses," as the report termed it. Further, the accreditation review committee, which was composed of college educators from throughout the U.S., noted that "collegewide discussion of the results of SLO assessment appears to be limited." The college has attempted to address these criticisms by establishing an Academic Senate committee devoted to student learning outcomes, as described in a February 2012 college report. In addition, there is some information on progress available on the college website.

Friday, March 30, 2012