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.

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