From the P.A.C.E. Director, Kellie Toon
Greetings, Pellissippi Colleagues,
Hard to believe, but here we are at the end of another year! It seems only yesterday PACE was getting ready to Start You Up! It has been a busy year, but good in many ways.
As we gear up for finals and summer farewells, I want to acknowledge our outgoing High Impact Practice PACE Faculty Fellows for 2017-2019, Oakley Atterson (Global and Diversity Learning), Rachel Glazener (Technology Enhanced Learning), Rick Patton (First Year Experience), and Cindy Wawrzyniak (Service Learning). These Fellows have worked tirelessly over the past two years to help you develop plans to enhance these HIPS in your classroom. We have seen many great things come out of their work, including events such as ARMOR Student Panels, Global Diversity Day with Dr. Bill Gaudelli, Rise Against Hunger, and the Winter Teaching and Learning Conference with Alan November. They have made great strides in their respective areas and as they begin their Legacy Fellowship, we look forward to continuing to support the amazing things these FAB Four will accomplish!
Many of us have heard, or have been part of, the conversations occurring in our departments and around campus concerning assessment in our classrooms. While some are well versed in assessment, others may still be questioning what it is all about. In this month’s PACE newsletter, Dr. Beth Norton, our Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs, walks us through the assessment mystery to hopefully shine a little more light on this critical concept.
If you are around this summer, consider taking part in some of the following summer opportunities:
On June 26, the Online Leadership Team and PACE will host the first 1-day Distance Learning Conference, Masters of the Digiverse: Designing a Virtual Path to Success, at the Hardin Valley Campus. Dr. Tanya Joosten, Director of Digital Learning Research and Development from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee will be the keynote speaker for the event. This exciting opportunity is designed for anyone who teaches online courses or is simply interested in learning more about supporting students in the digital age. Space is limited, so register now!
Summer is an opportune time to revitalize our courses. If you are contemplating developing a new course or redesigning your current course over the summer, consider joining a Course Development Cohort hosted by PACE Instructional Designer, Karen Sorensen, and ETS Instructional Technology Specialist, Royce Jacomen. This is a perfect opportunity to enhance your course as you work alongside your peers in a supportive and collaborative environment.
As we round out the semester, I personally want to thank everyone for helping PACE get started this year. We have all learned so much and the opportunities for continued growth abound. We look forward to continuing to serve your professional development needs as we keep PACE in the coming years. Excellence is collaborative and we couldn’t do any of this without you. Thank you!
P.A.C.E. Events Calendar
- Masters of the Digiverse: Designing a Virtual Path to Success Distance Learning’s 1-day conference on Wednesday, June 26th at Pellissippi State Hardin Valley campus. Keynote: Dr. Tanya Joosten, Director of Digital Learning Research and Development, Univ. of Wisconsin/Milwaukee. Register now!
- Course Development Cohorts starting this Summer! Do you have a PSCC course you would like to try to develop or redesign? Why not join a Course Development Cohort? It’s a supportive, collaborative space (complete with coffee, tea, and treats) to work on your course while other instructors work on theirs alongside you. It is a chance to share ideas, learn something new in Brightspace, and try new things in your course. Facilitated by PACE Instructional Designer, Karen Sorensen, and ETS Instructional Technology Specialist, Royce Jacomen.
What is Assessment All About?
by Dr. Beth Norton, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs
While assessment may seem like a mysterious concept to many educators, this article will outline the major questions surrounding assessment to provide clarification on the what, who, why, how and when of academic assessment.
What is Assessment?
In their book Assessment Essentials, two leading authors on assessment, Catherine Palomba and Trudy Banta (1999), provide a definition of assessment:
Assessment is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development (p. 4).
Faculty engage in assessment of their classes frequently. Quizzes, exams, papers, presentations, portfolios, and other work produced by students are all ways of trying to determine what students have learned. Some faculty also use Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATS), such as the muddiest point, one-minute feedback papers, exit slips with the top two or three things a student has learned in class that day. These low stakes “check-ins” are called formative assessment. The higher-stakes midterm or final exams and major papers and projects are summative assessments (Angelo and Cross, 1993).
The difference in those types of in-course assessments and the institutional level of assessment that SACSCOC mandates that colleges engage in and report on is a matter of scope. Course, program, and institutional level assessment seeks to move the process from the assessment of the individual student in one section of a course to all of the students enrolled in that course and/or program.
In other words, how do we, as faculty teaching ENGL 1010, MATH 1530, BIOL 1110, or SPH 2045, or any other general education course know all our students are learning what we have said they should learn? The same is true of the AAS program. How do we know our students have met our stated program learning outcomes?
Sure thing! Let me break them up into a few categories:
Why Do We Assess?
First, and foremost, assessment improves teaching. Dr. Sandy Shugart, President of Valencia Community College, provides two questions that all educators must ask themselves, “Are our students learning?” and “How do we know they are learning?” (February, 2017). Assessment is a reflective process to determine if students are mastering the course or program learning outcomes.
A second reason we assess is to comply with accrediting body (SACSCOC) standard 8.2.a:
The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of seeking improvement based on analysis of the results for student learning outcomes for each of its educational programs (“Resource Manual”, 2018).
The Resource Manual for the Principles of Accreditation (2018) provides some questions to consider:
- Is there a common process across programs at the institution?
- What is the role of faculty, chairs, deans, oversight committees and others in the process? Is the assessment process widely dispersed? If the latter, how is information collected and evaluated?
- Is the process systematic and ongoing?
- Are expected student learning outcomes clearly defined in measurable terms for each educational program?
- What types of assessment activities occur to determine whether learning outcomes are met?
- How are the results from periodic assessment activities analyzed?
- How does the institution seek improvements in educational programs after conducting these analyses?
- If programs consistently report “no improvements needed,” what happens?
- If the institution used sampling to present its process and to establish compliance with the standard, why were sampled programs an appropriate representation of all the institution’s programs?
- How has the institution’s use of assessment results improved the educational program? (p. 69)
Academic assessment is a faculty–driven process. All faculty members, both full-time and part-time, are expected to conduct assessment activities in their courses. Program and discipline faculty members should meet to determine which program level or course student learning outcomes will be assessed each assessment cycle. The program coordinator or dean may facilitate discussions and provide guidance, but they should not be the sole decision-maker about what is to be assessed.
How Do We Assess?
Assessments must be designed to tie directly to course or program student learning outcomes. In each course at the College, we have stated on the master syllabus what we expect students to know or be able to do as a result of taking the course. Each academic program has also stated what students should learn or be able to do at the end of the program.
Assessments may arise from exams, papers, or projects already used in the course or program as long as they target one or more specified student learning outcomes. Then the assessment must be given to all the students enrolled in the course or program. For example, if a Student Learning Outcome for a math course is that a student will be able to factor a polynomial, and questions 5, 12, and 17 on the final exam require students to factor a polynomial, those questions can be the assessment instrument. Assessments can also be created anew for the purpose of finding out whether students have mastered a concept or skill we have identified in our stated outcomes. Either way, the assessments should be given, and the results collected.
Careful analysis of the results should give faculty an idea of what concepts or skills students have mastered as well as where there are areas of weakness. Then a plan for addressing the weaknesses in the classroom must be developed and carried out. This is the pedagogical intervention that is critical to the assessment process. Faculty should meet and discuss the results and the possible interventions. That discussion should be documented in department minutes or some other form. What are the faculty going to do to improve student learning? For the example above, the intervention might involve devoting another class day and two extra homework sets on factoring polynomials or adding YouTube videos in Brightspace. These pedagogical interventions can take many forms, but they should arise out of faculty discussions and with the desire to improve student learning.
When Do We Assess?
Academic assessment of all program learning outcomes must take place within a five–year period. The cycle below reflects an assessment cycle where faculty are assessing outcomes, every year. This assessment cycle enables the completion of two assessment cycles for each outcome, which would provide more longitudinal data about the impact of the pedagogical interventions.
Year 1—Assess program/discipline outcomes/analyze results and develop pedagogical interventions.
Year 2—Implement pedagogical interventions/assess and analyze again.
Year 3—Assess your program/discipline outcomes/analyze results and develop pedagogical interventions.
Year 4—Implement pedagogical interventions/assess and analyze again.
**Another option is to assess one or two outcomes a year. This would add more steps to each year in the model above.
Academic assessment is something every educator already engages in on a daily basis by asking, “Why didn’t my students do well on the paper, exam, or classroom assignment?”, “What do I need to do differently to help them grasp the concept?” and “Did my intervention work?” Formal assessment requires documentation of the process. By understanding the what, who, why, how and when of assessment, the mysterious veil can be lifted to some degree.
Angelo, T.A. & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Banta, T.W. & Palomba, C.A. (2015). Assessment essentials: Planning, implementing, and improving assessment in higher education (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Carnegie Mellon University-Eberly Center. Assess teaching & learning. Retrieved from https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/assessment/.
Palomba, C.A., & Banta, T. W. (1999). Assessment essentials: Planning implementing, and improving assessment in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Resource manual for the principles of accreditation: Foundations for quality enhancement (3rd ed.). (2018). Decatur, GA: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Shugart, S. (2017, February). The Community College Conference on Learning Assessment Opening Session. Orlando, FL.
Staff Profile: Tammie Bolling
Department: Business and Computer Technology
What do you teach? Healthcare
How long have you been teaching at PSCC?
I have been teaching in higher education for 30 years. I have been employed at PSCC for 7 years.
Finish this sentence: Successful students _________
Successful students share certain traits and habits, such as hard work, enthusiasm, and a genuine interest in learning.
What are one or two of your best classroom practices?
I prefer utilizing the flipped classroom approach with the support of current and mobile technologies to enhance engagement and participation.
Do you have a favorite professional organization, newsletter, or blog that you follow?
I follow several newsletters and blogs. My favorite organizations that are related to my current discipline are the Internaionation Federation for Health Information Management, American Health Information and Informatics Association, Red Cross, and the PSCC Mobile Fellows.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
If you could have dinner with absolutely anyone, living or not, who would it be?
My grandfather, just one more time.
Which movie or TV show character do you identify with the most?
Dr. Blake Mysteries-Dr. Lucian Blake
by Rachel Glazener
What are the most popular types of technology for use in Higher Education?
Laptop: Laptops are one of the most diverse mobile devices for student use and are practically a quintessential item. They are easily portable to and from class, they have the ability to be connected to the internet, they are the most versatile for both in and out of class use, and the library has some available to be loaned out to students if they are unable to afford one. Students use them to complete assignments with word processing and to perform research, they can take notes on them, they can use them during class for engagement assignments, and they can be used to communicate with the instructor and classmates. A bonus way to use laptops in the classroom is to decrease printing costs by putting assignments online for students to reference with their devices in class.
Cell phone: One of the largest growing markets for techy items for students to purchase are cell phones that can be connected to the internet. Cell phones for some students are a larger necessity item than a laptop because it keeps them connected to their job, family, friends and they can use the internet features for schoolwork too. Cell phones have many of the same capabilities as a laptop now. Though I doubt many students are using a cell phone for word processing, it is possible. These are easy to access, on the go items and do not block a students’ view from the instructor or classmates in the classroom. Many instructors are harnessing the use of cell phones in class to pose interactive questions to students and gain feedback on their learning, using applications such as Polleverywhere or Nearpod.
E-Textbook: Part of the issue with traditional textbooks is that they become quickly outdated, making it necessary to change editions every few years. With digital textbooks, they can be updated in real time to ensure both students and teachers have the most up-to-date information. E-textbooks can typically be accessed easily on both a laptop or a cell phone so that the student will always have the book with them for class, without having to lug around the hardcopy. Teachers can highlight e-texts and put in notes for students to review and some e-texts have adaptive software to accompany it to make reading more interactive. Many schools are adopting E-textbook initiatives to help lower the cost of books to students and to ensure they have all of the course materials on the first day of class. Some of these E-textbooks could even be free with open educational resources widely available for many courses.
Text-Response System: There are applications, such as Remind, that allows an instructor to send texts directly to students who voluntarily sign up to receive them. These texts can be used to send students reminders about upcoming exams or assignment due dates, leading questions to get students thinking about a certain topic in your course, and even send a quiz question. Since PSCC is a user of Brightspace you can also encourage your students to download the Pulse application. If you use the calendar feature of your Brightspace course the Pulse application will automatically send them reminders of when assignments are due or if they need to work on assignments because they are “behind.” When you post an announcement to your Brightspace course the Pulse application will send a notification to the student’s phone, similar to sending a text and they will be alerted right away.
Virtual Reality: Virtual reality has not been around as long as cell phones but it is growing in popularity; there are still many avenues to be explored with this emerging technology for higher education. Through virtual reality, students can be immersed in worlds and environments they would never have access to, besides the words on a page for their own imagination to try to comprehend. Students can participate and train in their field of study, getting hands-on experience in a low stakes environment. For example, a student in a history class can tour the catacombs in France or walk on the moon. Or if they are taking anatomy and physiology they can interact with the body and remove the organs to analyze them up close. A student studying automotive service can interact with a car engine to view how it works while it is running from the inside.
If you would like to learn more about what technologies are being explored on campus, check out the mobile fellows blog, where weekly posts are made involving emerging technologies. You can also check out the faculty fellow projects for mobile and emerging technologies on the P.A.C.E. website. If you need any training on mobile and emerging technology reach out to Rachel Glazener, email@example.com. If she doesn’t have the answer for your techy needs, she can point you to the next person who will have the answer!