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Assessment Update at Berkeley City College

3 March 2015

Greetings, BCC.  This is a review of your wonderful work on assessing courses and programs and on ways the results have been used to make meaningful changes to improve teaching and learning at our college since 2012.  Since much of this work has been tied to institutional learning outcomes assessment, let’s start with a summary of our ILO work since 2012 and then touch on course and program learning outcomes assessment.

Many instructors across the college were involved in the communication ILO assessment, which was conducted in 2012 and 2014, as well as the critical thinking ILO assessment.  After the first communication ILO assessment, some of the instructors whose students wrote strong essays (we deliberately excluded English teachers) worked together to develop a packet of instructions for creating and scaffolding assignments for students. We shared this packet with instructors at BCC and readministered the assessment.  Here are the results, showing how many students scored at an acceptable or higher level in each of three skill areas:

Focus Organization   Language      # of Papers # of Disciplines
Sp 2012 79% 61% 67% 258 8
Sp 2014 90% 86% 80% 408 11

In 2014, we also administered our first critical thinking ILO assessment.  We looked at 592 essays written by students in a wide variety of disciplines at BCC, applying a rubric developed by the BCC Assessment Committee.  Students demonstrated strong skills in clearly presenting an issue, evidence, analysis, and conclusions.  We found that most of the essays did not demonstrate students’ ability to consider multiple perspectives or back up their assertions with research, but this seemed to be because most of the assignments students were responding to did not call for a demonstration of these skills.  The PIE Committee is currently discussing action plans relating to this assessment.

As to our current round of course assessments (2012-2015), we have assessed 80% of our courses.  Under the guidance of department chairs and departmental assessment liaisons, course assessment has taken place in a variety of ways — through institutional learning outcomes assessments, through classroom assessment techniques (primarily the minute paper), and through individually tailored assessments, including portfolio assessments, assessments of essays based on rubrics which delineate skills related to the SLOs, tests or portions of tests mapped to SLOs, and others.

Program assessments have focused on curriculum maps showing how each of the courses in a program is related to program learning outcomes and mapping these outcomes to specific assessments.  Almost all programs at BCC have begun the assessment process; new programs and programs undergoing substantial revision are the notable exception.

Finally, the Teaching and Learning Center  is a powerful tool at BCC (http://www.berkeleycitycollege.edu/wp/teaching-and-learning/) for closing the loop on assessments by providing a venue for faculty to collaboratively arrive at and implement action plans related to assessment findings.  The focused inquiry groups (FIGs) are used primarily to develop action plans, and the action plan projects for learning excellence (APPLEs) are used to implement those plans.

If you’re interested in knowing more about future plans for your department, please contact your department chair or assessment liaison, and feel free to come to the Planning for Institutional Effectiveness (PIE) meetings, which take place on alternate Thursdays during the college hour, usually in the TLC.  The calendar of meetings is posted on this page.

Filed under: Miscellaneous

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