Why Do We Assess Learning Outcomes?
Assessment of learning outcomes at the course, program, and institutional levels is an important, data-driven way of determining how well students learn under the current curriculum and institutional processes. Analysis, implementation of action plans, and reflection allow us to continuously improve curriculum and institutional processes for the benefit of students.
Not sure what learning outcomes are? Click here to learn more.
To stimulate a culture of ongoing instructional improvement using assessment to facilitate student success.
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Assessment practices at Laney College ensure quality educational opportunities that respond to the needs of the local and global community. Assessment is an ongoing process that improves student learning and institutional effectiveness through dialogue based on evidence. We value honesty, integrity, curiosity, and the courage to ask deep and interesting questions about student learning, our teaching practices, and our effectiveness as a learner-centered college.
Curriculum Committee & Faculty Senate Support Assessment with Resolution
Click on the link below to read the resolution indicating the Curriculum Committee will only review new curriculum from departments who have current curriculum adequately assessed.
What Is Assessment?
Assessment is the process of collecting evidence to see if students are actually learning what we’re teaching. The focus is on what the student is able to do or demonstrate, rather than just listing an inventory of what was covered in a particular class. Here is a useful definition from Linda Suskie in her book Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide (p. 3).
Assessment is the ongoing process of:
- Establishing clear, measurable expected outcomes of student learning.
- Ensuring that students have sufficient opportunities to achieve those outcomes.
- Systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well student learning matches our expectations.
- Using the resulting information to understand and improve student learning.
As you may know, the accrediting commission (ACCJC) requires colleges to assess student learning. As a process, assessment of learning and subsequent updates to curriculum, is meant to be faculty-driven. The good news is that there are lots of possibilities, and nobody HAS to do assessment in any particular way. You can choose assessment methods that will work for you and that will give you information you can really use to improve student learning.
Assessment isn’t the same as assigning grades. Grades alone do not give enough information on specific strengths and challenges of students. In addition, grading standards might be vague, while assessment information is very specific.
Benefits of Assessment:
The instructor is more proactive in helping students learn. Expectations are made very clear, so that students know what to expect and know where to focus their energies. There should be frequent prompt feedback that gives enough detail so that students understand their strengths and challenges.
Faculty should be curious to learn how their teaching impacts student learning and, as rational decision-makers, they should want to reflect on evidence, rather than rely on conjecture, to guide decision-making. (Mary Allen, Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education, p. 13.)
Resolution on Institutional Time for Assessment
Approved by LAC 4.16.21, by Faculty Senate 4.20.21
- involves creating outcomes, collaboratively assessing, discussing and reflecting on results of assessment, developing and implementing improvement plans, for SLOs, SAOs, AUOs, PLOs and ILOs
- is the primary way to evaluate, update and improve curriculum, services, and administrative processes
- is a key, direct, practical, and effective way to benefit students
- is a collaborative endeavor necessitating institutional time for the efforts required of department/unit members
- requires time for department/unit members to develop expertise in assessment processes
- encourages department/unit camaraderie and a sense of pride and belonging among colleagues
- leads to robust discussion of standards in departments/units with standardized tests and/or licensing exams
- is an effective way of creating alignment of student learning with department/unit ideals
- is critical for accreditation
- the college will, in collaboration with the Learning Assessment Committee, devote significantly more institutional time and support for assessment work, such as retreats and standing agenda items for assessment at shared governance meetings, department meetings, etc.
- the college will devote significant time on Professional Development days for departments/units to work on all stages of assessment