Friday, May 25, 2012

Survey Results

by Shirlee

ConversationMap Thank you to all who participated in our "big conversation" this year. We got many thoughtful and considered responses to our questions. We have made a "map" of the most common thinking we encountered -- just short representations of more nuanced and rich comments, but hopefully of help in representing the range of thinking among PCC faculty and staff. The Learning Assessment Council will use this to guide our recommendation to the college.

Conversation Map: The Big and Very Big Questions
Here is a map to the most frequent REASONS for answering our questions

I)  For purposes of continual program improvement of instructing and learning:

Should all SACs address and address and assess all core outcomes? (And if not, then what?)

  • college is not just job-training AND the core outcomes are what marks the difference 
  • the core outcomes are what pull us together as a faculty and help students have an integrated educational experience
  • the process of assessing for core outcomes is time-consmuing, annoying, frustrating.... and valuable
  • we need, however, to distinguish between graduates with 2 year degrees and graduates with certificates -- the core outcomes should only apply to degrees
  • our recent accreditation visit shows that by holding all SACs accountable for all core outcomes, we are on the right track; don't mess with success
  • all SACs do address all core outcomes at some level.... but they should only assess for the ones that are addressed in a major way 
  • limiting the scope of and responsibility for core outcomes 'guts the intent of th process' -- to guide us ALL in our planning and thinking
  • each CCOG should be linked to a college core outcome (so that we know where they are being addressed) BUT assessment should only be done where it can be done well, and the information used to feed program/discipline improvement

  • SACs are responsible for lots and lots content... if we add curriculum for core outcomes, what will get bumped?
  •  Instructors are experts in their fields -- let us do what we know how to do!
  • some core outcomes have absolutely no relevance to some SACs or classes OR are impossible to assess given skill level (e.g. ESOL or ABE)
  • some core outcomes are more core than others -- we should all be responsible for only the core of the core (most often mentioned: communication, critical thinking and self-reflection)
  • we have gen ed requirements and should use those to make sure graduates meet core outcomes -- then let others teach in their own disciplines
  • CTE SACs already have lots and lots and lots of assessments... why add more?
  • when the core outcomes were first introduced at PCC, we were promised that not every SAC would be responsible for all of them (only those relevant to field)
  • requiring all SACs to assess all core outcomes is guaranteed to make the assessment process meaningless -- broad and shallow, or else just done in order to keep administrators off instructor backs

II)  For purposes of  accountability (reporting to outside stakeholders):

Should all SACs address and address and assess all core outcomes? (And if not, then what?)

  • we shouldn't add a whole new layer of assessment to our process -- we have enough already!!
  • any additional hurdles (like exit tests or portfolios) will put a new block in from of students and depress graduation rates

  • it makes no sense at all to assess at the SAC level -- especially for LDC SACs that offer classes that are not required -- an institution-level assessment needs to be a th the institution level
  • if outcomes are 'out there" then assessments inside classes are irrelevant -- we need to track graduates
  • other colleges are doing more meaningful assessments, especially portfolios; we should, too

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The BIG Question

posted by Shirlee Geiger and Michele Marden

Should all SACs address and assess all 6 of PCC's core outcomes?
PCC's Learning Assessment Council (LAC) will be making a recommendation to the college at the end of Spring quarter regarding our assessment process, and we would like to have a LOT of input from PCC stakeholders. We have held three 2-hour sessions to get input, as well as a number of shorter information-sharing meetings in TLCs and in the meetings of various groups. We are putting out a survey to all faculty. For those who would like more information before weighing in, here is some background:
 The survey will be available through may 2012 at: PCC BIG QUESTION Survey
Accreditation of the college requires faculty to assess students in two different ways:
1.        For continual program/discipline improvement of student learning
2.        For competency to ensure students have meet the course and degree outcomes

The faculty on the Learning Assessment Council decided to start with assessment for the purpose of continual program/discipline improvement, thinking this is what would matter most to instructors. After being told by the NWCCU (our accreditors) that we had to HURRY UP!! (in August 2010), we then asked CTE SACs (nursing, welding, bio-tech etc) to assess the outcomes of their degrees and certificates, after they have mapped them to the core outcomes. We hoped this would work for BOTH purposes of assessment.
LDC/DE SACs (history, philosophy, math, developmental ed) assess the Core Outcomes directly since the Core Outcomes are the basis of the college’s transfer degrees. Want a refresher on PCC's Core Outcomes:
? go to:

We have some concerns about whether our accreditors are going to be fully pleased with our process later on down the road.
Two Conflicts:
Conflict 1: Students who obtain a transfer degree, take a variety of LDC courses to obtain their degree. How can we be sure they have met the degree outcomes (ie, the core outcomes)?
Two possible solutions (perhaps there are more):
1.      The college may be able to make the argument to the accreditors that the LDC/DE SACs address and assess the transfer degree outcomes (ie, core outcomes) for continual improvement so broadly that students will be competent when they graduate. If so, we need LDC/DE SACs to incorporate most of the Core Outcomes. This is our current path.
2.     The college may decide to assess for competency in a different way. Options include a capstone course, a standardized exam before graduation, or a portfolio. With the impending Completion Contracts where college funding will based on graduation rates, putting additional barriers for graduation may not be in the best interest of the college financially. Also, do we deny graduation if a student fails?

Conflict 2: Assessment of a CTE program’s degree/certificate outcomes is easier to assess for competency since students take specified courses that address the degree/certificate outcomes that have been mapped to the Core Outcomes. However, some CTE programs do not have a degree/certificate outcome for one (or more) of the Core Outcomes and expect that the LDC/DE courses student are required to complete for their degree to meet the missing Core Outcome(s).

Three possible solutions (perhaps there are more):
  1. The college may decide that LDC/DE disciplines should meet CTE program needs. If so, we need the LDC/DE SACs to incorporate most of the Core Outcomes in their courses.

  2. The college may decide to take away the student’s freedom to pick the courses and they must take courses that fit the missing core outcomes. If so, students lose what many value about a college degree – development of the person for their individualized choices. Also, there is a danger that this type of marginalization of the core outcomes to specific LDC/DE courses would go against purpose of the Core Outcomes which are intentionally broadly defined so that they are applicable in many different ways for many different  programs/disciplines.

  3. The college may decide that the CTE programs need to have at least one degree outcome that would map to each of the core outcomes.
The faculty Learning Assessment Council is following the national lead of our union, insisting that we STAND AGAINST the "de-skilling" of the faculty role. At PCC, we have formed a strong partnership with our administration, who has trusted faculty to take the lead in ensuring quality education for our students through relevant and well-crafted LOCAL assessment of learning outcomes. This means faculty will need to stay informed of the changing accreditation requirements, and participate in shaping PCC's response to the swirling changes blowing through our sector of education, both nationally and internationally. Thank you for taking the time to think about this issue, and making sure your experiences and skills help shape the decision on these questions here at PCC.