Of course outlines, outcomes, and assessment strategies

There has been some dialog surrounding whether specifying specific course level assessment strategies for student learning outcomes on collegiate course outlines overly constrains instructor flexibility in the classroom. Some instructors have noted that given differences in teaching and learning styles in a campus system that spans four islands and even more languages and cultures, the ways in which the learning outcomes are assessed are likely to differ. The learning achieved will be the same, but the manner of measuring that learning ought be permitted to vary.

A portion of the SC 130 Physical Science outline

Relationship among institutional, program, course, and specific learning outcomes for SC 130

While outlines have in some cases only listed a single method of assessment, the assessment tracking systems in place can handle multiple assessment methods for each learning outcome.

In SC 130 Physical Science there would be a number of different ways an instructor could conceive of determining that course learning outcome three is being met. One method that I have used is a pre-asssessment at the start of the term with a post-assessment over the same material at the end of the term. Improvement in performance from the pre to post-assessment is then reported as evidence that students have gained the listed skills.

Questions utilized in a pre-assessment/post-assessment of specific outcomes 3.1 and 3.2

Another method that I have deployed is to have the students investigate a physical science system, generate charts and graphs based on experimental data, infer mathematical models from a graph, and report on those models. This also addresses outcome three, but in a different way than the pre-assessment and post-assessment.

Evaluation of laboratory fourteen for evidence of meeting the learning outcomes using a rubric in Schoology

The marking rubric for laboratory fourteen is hidden from the students, but the students have seen essentially the same rubric in many of the preceding thirteen laboratories. The rubric includes direct evaluation of the course learning outcome three and the three supporting specific learning outcomes.

TracDat assessment strategies

The TracDat assessment tracking system includes both assessment options. Either option could be used to report achievement of the course level learning outcome. TracDat provides flexibility in assessing outcomes, outlines ought to reflect that flexibility when listing assessment strategies.


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