Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We are all in this together

From Sylvia Gray, out-going chair of the Faculty Learning Assessment Council

I’ve always wanted to get things in order and have them stay in order – but that just doesn’t seem to happen, no matter how hard I try. I don’t know how it works for the rest of you – but here we are – two years into this Learning Assessment project, and, shall we say, “enhanced” directives from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) (our accrediting agency) have come down to us. My first feeling (I admit – I’m not proud of it) was one of dismay – can’t they see what a big job it is to move an institution like PCC in a direction of this sort? And can’t they see what we’ve already accomplished? We were feeling pretty good about the progress we were making and the plan we had agreed on for future learning assessment.

Distancing myself, I do realize they are not asking for something different than what the Learning Assessment Council has been working toward – simply that we move things more intensely and more quickly. What the heck? Let’s be efficient. Maybe we can come up with rubrics for various core outcomes that we can use on the same set of student papers, for instance.

One thing this kick from the NWCCU forces us to do is to talk with each other about what we’re doing and to share ideas among ourselves – maybe more than we have in the past. When I think of some of my favorite things about being at PCC –apart from the absolute love of the classroom dynamic - it really is conversing with my colleagues about what and how we teach. I’ve been exposed to so many ideas as a result of similar conversations, and my own teaching is a blend of many ideas from my colleagues, all mixed together in my own particular way. It’s actually not just a luxury – it’s important that we continue this kind of cross-fertilization of ideas – and it’s a side benefit to the demands for accountability.

We are all in this together.

Sylvia Gray

Instructor of History

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