About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 1556-1564
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain

DOCUMENTING LEARNING OUTCOME ACHIEVEMENT: AN EXTREME SPORT AT A LARGE RESEARCH UNIVERSITY

D. Olsen, J. Keith, K. Thompson, R. Osguthorpe, R. Sudweeks, T. Johnson

Brigham Young University (UNITED STATES)
Faculty at large research universities are generally more focused on research than on careful assessment of student learning. When faced with the task of assessing student learning, faculty initially have little buy-in and think “it’s just a game” to satisfy accreditors or other external pressures.
We have worked for over a decade to improve faculty buy-in for creating and using learning outcomes. During this decade we have constantly examined which factors are most important in helping our faculty understand and own this process. Faculty ownership is improving – it’s no longer just a game. However, effectively and efficiently hitting the mark while consistently aligning the many facets associated with learning outcomes between course, program, and university levels is an extreme sport and is not for the faint of heart!
Most U.S. colleges and universities are being asked to 1) publish expected learning outcomes for each of their programs, 2) provide evidence that the expected learning outcomes are realized by students, and 3) demonstrate how such data collection and analyses leads to continuous improvement of student learning, the curriculum, and the university. This is a significant challenge, especially for large schools with many students.
This paper illustrates innovative strategies—some technological—employed to address the obstacles and challenges. Institutional, college-wide, discipline-specific, and individual faculty perspectives to a systems approach of bridging assessment, learning outcomes, and accreditation will be presented. The importance of student involvement and public scrutiny throughout the process is highlighted.
The technological strategies that are beginning to work well to create faculty buy-in, and are now being implemented more broadly at our university, include the following:

1. Publishing electronically all available syllabi via a new campus-wide tool called Syllabus Builder. [Currently, there are approximately 3500 syllabi created each year in this tool.]
2. Managing, publishing, and aligning all learning outcomes (course, program, university) via a central learning outcomes website with annual archives. [Faculty buy-in greatly increased after they realized that their chairs and deans would examine their assessment of these outcomes, and the university would annually archive their progress.]
3. Aligning course assignments and tests with course outcomes. [A new custom-built learning management system (LMS) has functionality which easily allows faculty to align every assignment and test question with a course learning outcome.]
4. Promoting course learning outcomes to students at all registration decision points. [All learning outcomes are displayed in the university catalog adjacent to course descriptions and prerequisites.]
5. Integrating learning outcome achievement metrics into the faculty evaluation instrument administered to all students in all classes. [When faculty members realize that a prime evaluation point of their success is student achievement of learning outcomes, they pay attention!]
Brigham Young University serves over 30,000 students across 12 colleges and 56 departments offering over 400 degree-granting programs. The ability to successfully compete in the arena of student learning outcomes requires continual training, practice, innovation, and persistence. The aforementioned technological strategies have proven invaluable in enhancing our performance in this extreme sport.
@InProceedings{OLSEN2012DOC,
author = {Olsen, D. and Keith, J. and Thompson, K. and Osguthorpe, R. and Sudweeks, R. and Johnson, T.},
title = {DOCUMENTING LEARNING OUTCOME ACHIEVEMENT: AN EXTREME SPORT AT A LARGE RESEARCH UNIVERSITY},
series = {4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN12 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-695-3491-5},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {2-4 July, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {1556-1564}}
TY - CONF
AU - D. Olsen AU - J. Keith AU - K. Thompson AU - R. Osguthorpe AU - R. Sudweeks AU - T. Johnson
TI - DOCUMENTING LEARNING OUTCOME ACHIEVEMENT: AN EXTREME SPORT AT A LARGE RESEARCH UNIVERSITY
SN - 978-84-695-3491-5/2340-1117
PY - 2012
Y1 - 2-4 July, 2012
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN12 Proceedings
SP - 1556
EP - 1564
ER -
D. Olsen, J. Keith, K. Thompson, R. Osguthorpe, R. Sudweeks, T. Johnson (2012) DOCUMENTING LEARNING OUTCOME ACHIEVEMENT: AN EXTREME SPORT AT A LARGE RESEARCH UNIVERSITY, EDULEARN12 Proceedings, pp. 1556-1564.
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