GUIDELINES FOR DETERMINING THE APPLICABILITY OF A LEARNING OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT MECHANISM
The intent of the Guidelines is to:
- Encourage RMU's teaching faculty to identify and assess course-level student learning outcomes to support a faculty member's promotion dossier as well as the University's more general educational goals.
This linkage between course-level learning outcomes and programmatic/institution-wide learning goals is critical to RMU's overall effectiveness in carrying out its mission. Further, this activity is a necessary component of RMU's compliance with Middle States outcomes assessment requirements
- Encourage the use of assessment data for changes/improvements to courses with the goal of improving student learning
In order to be eligible for inclusion for promotion consideration, such course-level outcomes assessments must incorporate all of the following elements:
- Course level outcomes assessments may either be formative (administered to provide feedback that are used to improve a course as it is being taught in a given term) or summative (the findings are used by the faculty member to improve the course when it is subsequently taught).
- Acknowledging that each course has its own learning objectives, the assessments for a given course will reflect and directly measure (see paragraph 6 below) student learning outcomes set forth in pertinent regional or specialized accreditation standards, school or department-level goals/plans, school or department-level outcomes assessment plans, RMU's Core Curriculum and/or the University's Mission and Vision statements. Copies of any or all of the publications enumerating these learning outcomes will be provided to faculty members by the University upon request.
- The course-level assessments will produce results that document the degree of student attainment of the course learning outcomes adopted from the documents specified in the preceding paragraph.
- The faculty member will provide evidence that he or she:
The University recognizes that faculty engaging in assessment will encounter differing circumstances and results. For instance, assessment results may sometimes lead a faculty member to conclude that no changes are warranted in order to achieve satisfactory student learning outcomes in a given course. In that instance, sufficient explanation should be provided. Similarly, a faculty member may be teaching a course for the first time or it may be the first time that a course has been offered at RMU. A faculty member may also plan changes/improvements for future offerings of the course based upon assessment data gained from a past offering of the course.
- Analyzed the results of course-level assessments to identify favorable or unfavorable student learning outcomes, and
- Used the assessment results as a basis for deciding, in the faculty member's professional judgment, whether or not to implement changes in a course that hold the promise of yielding future improvements in student learning outcomes.
- Faculty members will document changes/improvements in student learning outcomes and courses that occur as a result of assessments conducted during the semester. A standard reporting form will be provided by the University and the results of each student learning outcome or assessment should be documented on the form. Schools at the University may choose to develop their own reporting forms that are a closer match for their specific needs - e.g. accreditation. The usage of these instruments in lieu of the standard reporting form is acceptable as long as the reporting form developed by the School includes all of the information presented in the University reporting form. It is suggested that faculty members build a portfolio of assessment results to use as part of the plan for demonstrating teaching effectiveness as set forth in Section B.1. of Appendix A of the Agreement (p.42).
- Direct evidence of course-level student learning is preferred and may include, but is not limited to, data produced by the following types of assessments (as suggested by Linda Suskie, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, December 2004):
- Written work, performances or presentations scored using rubric;
- Portfolios of student work with clear educational purposes;
- Scores on locally-designed multiple choice and/or essay tests such as final examinations in key courses, qualifying examinations and comprehensive examinations, accompanied by test "blueprints" (as described by Suskie) describing what the tests assess;
- Score gains between entry and exit on published or local tests or writing samples;
- Summaries/analyses of electronic discussion threads;
- Student reflections on their values, attitudes and beliefs, if developing those attributes are intended outcomes of the course or program.
- Score gains on in-course assessments conducted as part of a program-wide measurement process (for example, pre- or post- testing conducted to measure outcomes in the Communications Skills program).
- Ratings of student skills by field supervisors or other third-party evaluators;
- Examination scores from published tests that are course content specific.
The eligibility of other types of direct measure assessments, and those that are indirect measures (if used) of student learning, for promotion consideration must be agreed to by the faculty member and his/her Department Head and Dean as part of the plan for demonstrating teaching effectiveness as set forth in Appendix A - Schedule II, paragraph B.1