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Assessment from the Inside Out: How we used a student's experience in the major as a way to examine our own teaching, judge student learning outcomes, and re-evaluate our goals.

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Abstract:

This paper describes a process of assessment that produced an unexpectedly rich discussion of teaching and in the process created a “community of practice” out of a collection of individual teaching faculty. By examining our collective enterprise through the lens of an individual student (or rather sixteen individual students), we were able to gain a larger perspective on how each of our individual efforts in the classroom contribute to producing the whole of the major. Although we had adopted a common set of learning goals/outcomes and a relatively structured curriculum designed to provide an integrated course of study based on sequential learning and progressive skill development, our assessment efforts were largely focused on student outcomes—could our students read with comprehension, reason critically, communicate effectively, and undertake independent research? Naturally, when we found that some students excelled while others fell behind, we attributed the reason to the student (they weren’t working hard enough, transfer of knowledge from one course to the next is their responsibility, if they only took the courses in the order we recommended, etc.). We assumed that we were collectively delivering the curriculum in a way that offered students the best opportunity to gain the attitudes, knowledge and skills embodied in our statement of goals/outcomes. However, since we largely design and deliver our courses in isolation we really had no idea whether any one student would encounter assignments and course-based experiences that, when taken as a whole, actually resulted in an integrated experience that could reasonably be expected to result in the learning outcomes we had identified. Thus, we undertook a slightly different kind of assessment that put us in the shoes of a student taking our classes and completing our assignments over the course of the entire major. In order to better understand how a single student experienced the major, we undertook a transcript analysis in which we selected eight students from the 2004 graduating class, four with grade point averages of 3.0 or better (most were in the 3.4-3.8 range) and four with grade point averages between 2.0 and 2.9. We created a matrix of skills/competencies associated with the 10 learning goals and then pulled the course syllabus (by specific section) for each political science class a student took over the course of completing the 36-hour major. The transcript provided the path each student took through the major and allowed us to fill in the matrix by semester and by exact course using the syllabus and course assignments for each class in each semester. We were then able to do a basic count of the number of opportunities at each level of the major a student had to develop a particular competency or learning outcome. We were also able to document what type of assignment designed to accomplish a specific goal was given at each level of the major (see Appendix 2 for examples of the matrices). We were not interested in what any one faculty member was assigning to students, nor did we expect that any one faculty member would provide opportunities to work on all ten goals in any single class. Rather, we were more interested in how often an individual student encountered assignments or experiences in support of each goal. The guiding question was, “If a student completes the major in political science, do they have ample opportunities to progressively develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes we set as goals?” The preliminary analysis discussed in this paper is based on a sample of 16 students.

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student (102), polit (88), major (71), cours (58), scienc (50), faculti (40), depart (30), experi (28), goal (28), develop (28), learn (27), assign (26), one (24), work (21), war (19), skill (19), public (19), analysi (18), requir (17), curriculum (17), design (16),

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assessment, student learning, structured curriculum
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Name: American Political Science Association
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MLA Citation:

Ford, Lynne. "Assessment from the Inside Out: How we used a student's experience in the major as a way to examine our own teaching, judge student learning outcomes, and re-evaluate our goals." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Marriott, Loews Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA, Aug 31, 2006 <Not Available>. 2013-12-16 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p151020_index.html>

APA Citation:

Ford, L. E. , 2006-08-31 "Assessment from the Inside Out: How we used a student's experience in the major as a way to examine our own teaching, judge student learning outcomes, and re-evaluate our goals." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Marriott, Loews Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA Online <PDF>. 2013-12-16 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p151020_index.html

Publication Type: Proceeding
Abstract: This paper describes a process of assessment that produced an unexpectedly rich discussion of teaching and in the process created a “community of practice” out of a collection of individual teaching faculty. By examining our collective enterprise through the lens of an individual student (or rather sixteen individual students), we were able to gain a larger perspective on how each of our individual efforts in the classroom contribute to producing the whole of the major. Although we had adopted a common set of learning goals/outcomes and a relatively structured curriculum designed to provide an integrated course of study based on sequential learning and progressive skill development, our assessment efforts were largely focused on student outcomes—could our students read with comprehension, reason critically, communicate effectively, and undertake independent research? Naturally, when we found that some students excelled while others fell behind, we attributed the reason to the student (they weren’t working hard enough, transfer of knowledge from one course to the next is their responsibility, if they only took the courses in the order we recommended, etc.). We assumed that we were collectively delivering the curriculum in a way that offered students the best opportunity to gain the attitudes, knowledge and skills embodied in our statement of goals/outcomes. However, since we largely design and deliver our courses in isolation we really had no idea whether any one student would encounter assignments and course-based experiences that, when taken as a whole, actually resulted in an integrated experience that could reasonably be expected to result in the learning outcomes we had identified. Thus, we undertook a slightly different kind of assessment that put us in the shoes of a student taking our classes and completing our assignments over the course of the entire major. In order to better understand how a single student experienced the major, we undertook a transcript analysis in which we selected eight students from the 2004 graduating class, four with grade point averages of 3.0 or better (most were in the 3.4-3.8 range) and four with grade point averages between 2.0 and 2.9. We created a matrix of skills/competencies associated with the 10 learning goals and then pulled the course syllabus (by specific section) for each political science class a student took over the course of completing the 36-hour major. The transcript provided the path each student took through the major and allowed us to fill in the matrix by semester and by exact course using the syllabus and course assignments for each class in each semester. We were then able to do a basic count of the number of opportunities at each level of the major a student had to develop a particular competency or learning outcome. We were also able to document what type of assignment designed to accomplish a specific goal was given at each level of the major (see Appendix 2 for examples of the matrices). We were not interested in what any one faculty member was assigning to students, nor did we expect that any one faculty member would provide opportunities to work on all ten goals in any single class. Rather, we were more interested in how often an individual student encountered assignments or experiences in support of each goal. The guiding question was, “If a student completes the major in political science, do they have ample opportunities to progressively develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes we set as goals?” The preliminary analysis discussed in this paper is based on a sample of 16 students.

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Document Type: PDF
Page count: 16
Word count: 6020
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Assessment From the Inside Out: How we used a student’s experience in the major as a way to examine our own teaching judge student learning outcomes and re- evaluate our goals. Lynne E. Ford College of Charleston Charleston South Carolina Prepared for delivery at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association August 30th-September 3 2006. Copyright by the American Political Science Association. Introduction This paper describes a process of assessment that produced an unexpectedly rich discussion
2005. b) Senator Ernest Hollings Lecture on Campaign Finance Reform October 24 2005. c) Global Awareness Week: Celebrating Women Globally (co-sponsor) October 24-28 2005. d) Exploring Geography Lecture Dr. Kevin St. Martin Lecture on Community Fisheries Management November 16 2005. e) Community Forum: “Achieving a Fair & Adequate Tax Policy for South Carolina ” January 4 2006. (co-sponsored with the League of Women Voters and the Charleston Chamber of Commerce) f) Senator Ernest Hollings “The Budget Trade and the


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