Southwestern College

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Assessment of learning is the process of systematically collecting information about student learning in order to evaluate the effectiveness and quality of instruction, student services, and support.  Assessment results are analyzed then used to make improvements across the institution in order to maximize student learning.  The maximizing of student learning is achieved when assessment results guide institution-wide decision-making ensuring that allocations of human, technology, physical, and financial resources are sufficient to support student needs, learning, and success.  

There are many ways to assess student progress, and the measurement of student learning outcomes (SLOs) is one approach. When working with SLO assessment much will seem familiar as Southwestern College has been conducting various types of assessments since the institution’s inception. For instance, analyzing results from the Accountability Report for the Community Colleges (ARCC), a report from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and/or the new Scorecard to create plans for improvement are processes of assessment.

Image of a chalkboard with drawn puzzle piecies with the words education, skills, vision, and insterests written inside of the puzzle piecesThe SLO assessment process involves:
  1. Writing and/or revising outcomes
  2. Communicating outcomes (including providing instruction and/or services)
  3. Measuring outcomes and collecting aggregated data
  4. Storing aggregated data
  5. Meeting to discuss and analyze aggregated data
  6. Creating a plan or plans for improvement
  7. Implementing new plan(s) by restarting this cycle and collecting more data

Please Note:

  • SLO assessment is a process.  Although the term “assessment” has been used synonymously with the term “measurement,” they are not the same.  The act of measuring an outcome is only one part of the assessment process. 

  • The end result of SLO assessment is to improve student learning and services.  If action is not taken on the assessment results collected then the process is incomplete and the collection of assessment results is futile.  Avoid collecting information that will simply sit in a file.  Focus on collecting assessment data that can and will be actually be used.  A small amount of useful data is better than a file full of unused data.
  • According to Southwestern College Policy 4350 and Procedures 4350, SLO assessment results cannot be used in the following ways:
    • Punitively or as a means of determining faculty or staff salaries or rewards;
    • To impinge upon the Academic Freedom or professional rights of faculty established in the education code;
    • To evaluate the end of the student’s experience or merely to be accountable to outside parties;
    • As a single mode of assessment to answer all questions or strictly determine program or unit decisions.
  • Assessment data will be used to:
    • Inform teaching practices;
    • Improve student services and support;
    • Guide the design of courses, programs, co-curricular programs and units; and
    • Guide decision-making processes regarding the allocation of human, technology, physical, and financial resources.
The assessment of SLOs falls under the umbrella of “action research.”  Its specific purpose is to improve processes and guide decisioin-making.  While the collection of data should be systematic and disciplined, its aim is not to collect empirical and generalizable data for controlled scientific inquiry.  The data collected should be reliable enough so that your discipline or unit at SWC can make informed decisions, but does not need to be generalizable beyond your area or our campus.  

“The ACCJC has indicated its position that outcomes assessment is not an optional activity, but rather an obligation to be included in the regular work activities of faculty and other college personnel and a practice that should be incorporated into decision making and other processes of all colleges” (ASCCC, 2010).  

Data from outcomes assessment is integrated into program review.  Program review is used as the basis of institution-wide decision-making and guides decisions regarding the allocation of human, technology, physical and financial, resources.  The reporting of outcomes assessment in program review is required.

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Last updated: 5/1/2014 8:56:27 AM