Schoology and student learning outcomes assessment

While reading a college strategic plan I noted that the course student learning outcomes completion rates for general education were not yet available. This was puzzling to me as I was aware that the institution was using TracDat by Nuventive. Used properly, TracDat should be generating that data.

During a presentation a speaker reported success rates on student learning outcomes including success rates by gender. Someone asked about success rates by ethnicity which were not being tracked.

As I sat there I knew that one might want to slice and dice data by gender, ethnicity, and a number of other variables. Ultimately one would need the individual student learning outcomes attainment data for each student in order to handle queries on any possible variable. There would be a need to know at an individual level which student learning outcomes John had obtained, which student learning outcomes Jane had obtained, which student outcomes Madison had obtained.

I had heard that TracDat had been upgraded three days earlier. I logged on to see what options there might be for tracking data at a more granular level. I was greeted with a blank screen.

I asked a colleague who had higher levels of access and the colleague was able to show me that the data I had entered for the courses for which I was responsible was still there. During the upgrade something in the user permissions structures had changed and I had lost access to my courses.

As I sat there staring at my own blank screen, I suddenly realized three things at the same instant.

One, everyone would have to be retrained in TracDat. The upgrade was substantive.

Two, TracDat cannot take us to the John, Jane, and Madison learning outcome achievement level.

Three, Schoology Enterprise version can take the college to individual achievement of learning outcomes and the newly announced Assessment Management Platform can potentially replace TracDat for course, program and institutional assessment while providing drill down to individual learning outcomes accomplishment.

Schoology would also provide single data entry for faculty, and could be connected to SIS. Even in the free version I use at present I can create and evaluate against student learning outcomes.

Schoology permits the creation of banks of student learning outcomes. These are referred to as "learning objectives" by Schoology, but the difference is semantic choices only. The term "standards" is also used by Schoology. While there may be definitional differences, functionally student learning outcomes, learning objectives, and standards can be handled in Schoology using the same software structures.

In the image below are my course level and specific student learning outcomes for my MS 150 Statistics course student learning outcome one and three suboutcomes entered into Schoology. Using the Add button I can add as many as I like. Once I have entered my learning outcomes, I can use them on tests, assignments, or in rubrics.

In Schoology the above learning outcomes can be attached to assignments, tests, or evaluated using rubrics. Rubrics are often deployed to evaluate student learning outcomes. In the screen below I set up a rubric which will use my learning outcomes.

The rubric starts off blank. Note at the bottom the button marked Learning Objectives, that access my student learning outcomes.

 My learning outcomes are "Custom Learning Outcomes" under the first item. Note that I also have access to Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, College and Career Readiness Standards for adult education, among others. The Common Core standards include the state standards for all 50 US states.

My learning outcomes can be seen below. I can add as many different standards as apply to the assignments the rubric will be targeting.

I get to choose how the outcome is handled by the rubric. The default is the four point scale at the top, but I can go with a binary "student can/student cannot" scale if I wish. Whatever I want to do, I can do.

In the image below I have used the rubric to evaluate an assignment in statistics. There are other options and other ways to use and track outcomes in Schoology.

At this point the free version of Schoology cannot take me any farther. There is a screen in the Enterprise version which lets an instructor set the criteria for mastery of the student learning outcome. These are not in the free version. There are statistical screens that then aggregate learning outcomes performance. And, the new Assessment Management Platform module in Schoology provides enterprise level reporting of these same outcomes. While, at the bottom of the data pile, is data on how each and every student performed on each and every individual encounter with each and every student learning outcome.


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