Departmental SLO Process

Overview

The Biology Department at CCSF is both large and diverse serving over 6000 students a year in various sub-disciplines within the larger field of biology. 

While constant focus on course content and improvement of curriculum and the student experience has always been an active and important part of the culture and practice of the Dept, in the 2009 school year we began a process of formalizing our efforts in the format of the Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment procedure of continual improvement.  Because of size and diversity of the department’s curriculum, it was decided to begin the integration of this process in a single course to serve as a model for the rest of the department.  The pilot course chosen was Human Biology (BIO 9) which is the largest course offering, by section.  Bio 9 has an average student enrollment of over 600 students per semester and involves the largest number of faculty within the department.  In 2010 the results of this pilot program were presented to the Department at large during the regularly scheduled faculty meeting.  Since that time all courses have been actively engaged in the SLO assessment process.

Beyond the core areas, Biology at CCSF offers an array of smaller specialized classes (see course catalog and schedule for details).  It was decided, rather than assign a one process fits all top down approach to implementation of the SLO process that the most fruitful application of the process would come from the individual areas of instruction.  In 2011 informal work groups were formed to cover each area of course offerings to examine, update and develop these outcomes into assessment measures.  In Fall of 2012 a status reports on individual course progress in this process were developed for all courses.  Since this time all courses have engaged in the evaluation process and until Spring 2015, regular status updates were recorded each semester via a college wide assessment reporting process that can be found in summary on the CCSF SLO assessment web pages.

Course specific learning outcomes are defined in each course outline of record.  Progression to assessment and continual improvement is moving forward on all classes but progress, as expected, is highly variable due to the complexity of our offerings and infrequency in which some classes are offered within the schedule.  All core areas of instruction involving multiple section of a class have engaged the process of improvement and have reached a state of ongoing evaluation and improvement. 

Within the Dept. areas such as basic learning skills have received renewed attention leading to the development of departmental workshops focused on study skills hosted in our Biology Resource Center and efforts to obtain extramural funding to support more such programs.

As the department increases proficiency in the course focused SLO process, clearer objectives and assessments are being articulated for departmental wide functions and resources.  One area of annual review is our degree and certificate programs in Biology and Environmental Science.  While assessment of these programs is closely tied to and mapped to our course evaluations, larger discussions about the numbers of degrees issued over the last two years in these programs have formed the basis for our program assessment where objective assessment must be linked to achievement data in order for improvements to me meaningful.   At the same time major shifts in enrollment and the development of the Biology Transfer degreees have us constantly reassesing our programs based on enrollment shifts.  Improvement efforts and larger discussion are also ongoing for sequence courses and among instructors who teach student cohort related courses in the allied health classes.

Since Spring of 2015 much effort has been applied to meeting or exceeding the new 2014 accreditation standards.  Data on student learning are now reported and collected by individual section disagregated by student and SLO.  Larger aggregate discsussion by course series are still taking place in an ongoing manner but reporting of results is now much more granular and mediatied via the CurricUNET database.          

 

Our Process

  1. Develop student learning outcomes and assessment strategies for individual courses, programs, certificates majors, and the department.
  2. Implement a process for continual review of student learning outcomes, refining and changing them based on assessement data, institutional and departmental mission, and new innovations in Biology instruction.
  3. Gather assessment data and review our effectiveness.  Where we are not as effective as we should be, we implement new ideas and utilize new strategies and technologies to better achieve our goals.  We maintain a department webpage dedicated to teaching innovation, strategies, content and technology to support faculty in this process.
  4. Map our course level student learning outcomes to Natural Science and Institution learning outcomes.  Refine course outlines and student learning outcomes to support CCSF's institutional mission and institutional learning outcomes.

Implementation

Course Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Each course has a course coordinator who is reponsible for coordinating all of the instructors who teach that particular course.  The coordinator sets meetings at the beginning of each semester where the course "team" meets to discuss upcoming SLO goals and assesssment plans.  This allows all faculty who teach a particular course to coordinate efforts and work together to accomplish specific goals.
  2. The course coordinator reviews SLO data over multiple semesters through CurricUNET.  Faculty meet to close the loop by discussing past semester data, focusing on ways to be more effective in the classroom, improve assessment techniques, and facilite greater student proficiency in learning outcomes.

Program/Certificate Learning Outcomes

  1. Program learning outcomes map back to the courses that support individual programs, as well as to institutional learning outcomes. 
  2. Program coordinators in collaboration with the Department Chair and individual faculty review assessment data provided through CurricUNET. 
  3. Regular dialog regarding between program coordinators, the chair,  and Biology faculty provide ongoing assessment and improvement to our programs.