2013 Nov Highlights
Once a month, we highlight departments and programs from across the college that have great things happening motivated by a desire to improve student learning.
Wendy Miller -- Fashion Faculty
"Our goal is to have the majority of the students achieve all of the SLOs for each class they pass, and not to have students pass a class by completing only 70% of the SLOs."
FASHION DEPARTMENT LINKS COURSE SLOs TO STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT
As part of the refinement and mapping of the Fashion Department program-level SLOs, the faculty in the different program areas met to discuss what students need to know to work in the industry, and what we are teaching in the various classes we offer. We identified some gaps, and made plans to address them either through new classes or revisions of old classes. We assessed our classes for continuity of skill development, and re-crafted our course SLOs to reflect our decisions. We have revised or completely re-written almost all of our core (required) course outlines over the last 10 months.
Part of this project has involved linking student achievement to our course SLOs. Our goal is to have the majority of the students achieve all of the SLOs for each class they pass, and not to have students pass a class by completing only 70% of the SLOs. Our approach has been to limit ourselves to 4-6 SLOs per class in most cases. And, instead of having SLOs link to specific content or project assignments, we have designed each project we assign to address most of the class SLOs. This gives the student an entire semester and 3 or 4 projects to master the skills or concepts contained in each SLO. If a student does not successfully master the SLO in the first project, they may learn from that failure and master the skill or concept in the second (or third) project. As a CTE, skill-based program, we recognize it can take students several attempts to get it right.
For example, the course SLOs for our intermediate apparel construction class are
- Construct intermediate level garments from challenging fabrics, including bias, plaids, slippery fabrics, and stretch wovens
- Select appropriate fabrics and notions for different types of garments
- Plan pattern layouts and garment construction sequences to minimize waste
- Apply complex construction sequences and modular construction techniques in constructing multiple types of garments
- Employ appropriate seams, edge finishes, hand-stitches, fastenings or closures for shirts, pants, skirts, and/ or dresses
- Use appropriate machines for construction and finishing
Students are assigned several specific skill samples, and also construct 3 different garments during the semester (a lined skirt, a men’s dress shirt, and a pair of stretch jeans). Each of the SLOs applies to each of the projects. If a student gets 60% on the first project, 80% on the second, and 90% on the third, they will have both passed the class, and successfully mastered all of the course SLOs.
Christopher Kox -- Chair, Library Information Technology
"We are emerging a better department for this... Adjunct faculty feel valued and ...more strongly identified with the students, the department and the college ..."
I have to admit I was brought kicking and screaming into the SLO world last year, not least in perceiving the bulk of effort for a small department to fall squarely on the shoulders of our full time faculty of one. However, in the process what I found was that my adjuncts, who are all engaged in demanding professional careers of their own, took the business of teaching very seriously, and saw in the process of proposing learning outcomes, the mechanism for their measurement, the actual gathering of evidence and the interpretation of data, very responsibly, seriously and I should add – very effectively. The more important upshot of this -- a bonus really -- was that in this, the following year, now burdened with the revision of a dozen senile course outlines, my faculty took to fully engaging in the process of revision, taking upon themselves work even in semesters where they do not have assignments. Their commitment has ensured that we are effectively communicating the nature of discipline, drawing clearer the boundaries of ideas when needed, but finding refreshing the adjacent content if not the outright intersections. We are emerging a better department for this, in process, in content, in clarity and in the effectiveness of teaching, no less than in the measurement of learning.
"Concretizing SLOs has sharpened my focus in addressing the real questions, challenges, and skills students can take with them into the library profession, long after the class is over."
-- Jerry Dear, Instructor, Library Information Technology
"Working on SLO assessments has caused me to focus more deeply on course content; it has prompted spontaneous discussions with others both in and outside of the department. I feel more confident bringing my questions and observations forward when I know that others are as concerned with student learning as I am. I love working in Library Technology and contributing to improving students’ health literacy."
-- Peggy Tahir, CCSF Adjunct Instructor, Librarian, UCSF
"On the whole, the process has been very good not only for creating a more coherent body of courses, but more importantly, for building team work within the department. The adjunct faculty feel valued and thus more strongly identified with the students, the department and the college which they serve."
-- Chris Kox, Chair, Library Technology
Terence Chuck and Ellen Conaway – Faculty – DSPS
"We learned from our assessments…. follow-up phone calls did not help… time lag [did].”
Increasing our impact:
A few years ago we analyzed student transcripts and found that 57% of students who completed CCSF learning disability testing and qualified for accommodations improved their non-PE GPA over the course of the year that followed their testing. As part of our program outcomes, we wanted to raise that number. We decided to investigate whether or not students were actually using the accommodations for which they qualified. We developed a checklist to use with the students who met state guidelines and qualified for one or more accommodation based on the testing. At the final test results conference, the LD Specialist thoroughly explained why each recommended accommodation should help the student to do better in school, and the student explained them back as we completed the checklist. The LD Specialist used various resources to look into whether or not students used accommodations within five weeks of that meeting. We found that 56% of students used accommodations after five weeks of learning that they qualified for services. 8% more used accommodations the next semester (bringing numbers to 64%). It was an improvement; but, we still wondered: what was going on with that last one-third of students? We will explore that question in our next assessment cycle.
Lessons we’re learning:
There were two things we learned from our assessments that will help us to know where to put our energy to improve our counseling service. One is that follow-up phone calls did not help. No student began using accommodations after a reminder. Another very helpful discovery was that if the student met with a LD Specialist one day to hear test results and then waited a few hours or days and then met with a DSPS counselor to find out how to access accommodations, he/she was much more likely to use the services. The time lag helped. We suspect it was information overload, or not having time to process the information and get clarification some time later. This concrete result of information-overload also helped us to formulate our next assessment plans. We will discuss accommodations before testing begins and give the student time to think about the benefits of accessing those accommodations if she/he qualifies for same.
We are adding a new focus: in addition to “what students are learning” during our counseling sessions, we’re also looking directly at how effectively we are providing our services. In particular, we are developing a new assessment tool to gather data on how well our current counseling staffing levels are meeting the standards necessary to provide legally mandated DSPS Services.