DOCUMENTING LEARNING OUTCOME ACHIEVEMENT: DEVELOPMENT AND USE OF AN INTEGRATED ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM FOR STUDENTS, COURSES, PROGRAMS, AND FACULTY
Brigham Young University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract: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 interest and view the effort as only valuable to satisfy accreditors or other external pressures.
Researchers at a large US based university have worked for over a decade to improve faculty motivation for creating and using learning outcomes. During this decade the researchers have examined which factors are most important in helping faculty understand and own this process.
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 presentation illustrates:
1) obstacles and challenges,
2) innovative strategies—some technological—employed to address the obstacles and challenges,
3) current and future strategies for improved success. 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 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 interest 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 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 realizes that a prime evaluation point of their success is student achievement of learning outcomes, they pay attention!]
These strategies have been instituted sequentially and are measured steps in increasing faculty interest, understanding, and ownership. Over 4700 courses (>99% of all courses) have published learning outcomes.
Keywords: Learning, Learning Outcomes, Assessment, Accreditation, Accountability, Continuous Improvement, Curriculum, Evidence.