2014 Feb Highlights

Once a month, we highlight departments, programs, and committees from across the college that have great things happening motivated by a desire to improve student learning.

February 2014

DEPARTMENTAL OUTCOME WEBSITES 

This month's issue of HIGHLIGHTS features departmental SLO webpages and assessment reflections from webmasters. Each department, service, and now administrative unit has an outcome webpage, with a uniform design, housing an easy to navigate description of the unit’s assessment practices, timelines, assessment progress reports, course, program, service, or unit outcomes, program mapping, and additional assessment resources. Instructional SLO pages were the first to be developed (and are featured below), followed by Student Service Outcome pages, and lastly Adminstrative Unit Outcome pages are under development.

A thematic strand in both webmaster's narrative is the way a Departmental Assessment webpage functions richly as a discussion springboard and resource for faculty.

Craig Kleinman, English webmaster

ENGLISH

"The English SLO site brings new accountability and pride to our department, and it brings more members of our extremely large department into active participation."  Craig Kleinman, English faculty & SLO webmaster

Assessment was . . .

Assessment is not a new concept in the English Department, but the definition of assessment has gone through a critical evolution.  Developing and maintaining our SLO site plays a vital role in our academic responsibilities, providing new ways to understand, contextualize, and build upon assessment to improve student success.  Until recently “assessment” was almost synonymous with

  • Grading
  • Course placement
  • Grammar/vocabulary comprehension scores

However, a critical shift in departmental culture arose with the first English 94 (now 93) common assessment, a process that enabled us to begin norming our sequence from the middle out.  This made a distinction between assessment and evaluation, for the results could be used to analyze the broader issues of our curriculum, sequence, and outcomes, not just the scores of individual students.  Portfolio learning and assessment became the norm in the lower-level composition courses as a way to reflect upon our pedagogical practices, and that assessment process eventually played into how we have reconstructed our course sequence, integrated reading and writing, and re-conceptualized our learning outcomes.  As documented on our SLO site, assessment takes place in a variety of forms at different levels, continuing to evolve our notions of teaching and learning in the context of CCSF’s students’ needs and the college’s mission.  Arguably, our accelerated course pathway might not have flourished so quickly had the shift from evaluation to assessment not begun years ago, resulting in major curricular changes.

 

Assessment is . . .

The English SLO site brings new accountability and pride to our department, and it brings more members of our extremely large department into active participation.  The SLO work helps make assessment present and alive, more organic, launching ongoing conversations about what we need to do in our programs and in our courses--and why:

  • What does it mean to read or write well? 
  • In what context do reading and writing take place? 
  • What exactly is being assessed?
  • What is the meaning of a particular writing or reading assessment, or even an English attitudinal survey, in the context of learning outcomes, departmental goals, program outcomes, and the college’s mission?
  • What’s the next step?

Our concurrent assessment practices, intensified and made more comprehensive over the past few years, help us see the bigger institutional picture in which assessment exists, a picture in which we are not alone in the process, a picture in which we are no longer caught in isolated, scoring rituals but always reflecting critically and considering new ways to understand and articulate college readiness, curricular context, and desired learning outcomes for students. Assessment is a dynamic process, a process seen in the context of institutional coherence, cohesion, and functionality.  This site plays a small yet critical role in that process and the always-evolving machinations and joys of teaching and learning at CCSF.

BIOLOGY

Sheri Miraglia and Simon Hanson, Biology co-webmasters

"This page supports our SLO efforts by providing links to new teaching strategies and technologies, fostering innovative ways to improve student outcomes. . ." Sheri Miraglia, Biology faculty and SLO Co-Webmaster

The Biology Department SLO Webpages have been a collaborative effort between Simon Hanson and Sheri Miraglia. One of the best things about this collaborative process is that it has stimulated numerous discussions about our department, the SLO process, and how we can best serve the needs of our students. The site does need routine maintenance every semester to stay current, and we have found that sharing this responsibility makes sense for a large academic department such as ours.

Our SLO webpage includes regular updates on our courses, our process and highlights from past semesters that describe how the SLO process has improved course assessment and student learning. A highlight of creating the site was the development of a supporting page entitled: “Teaching Resources”. It made sense to have a webpage dedicated to the pedagogy of teaching Biology. This page supports our SLO efforts by providing links to new teaching strategies and technologies, fostering innovative ways to improve student outcomes in the Biological Sciences.