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OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT: Linking Learning, Assessment and Program Improvement

OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT: Linking Learning, Assessment and Program Improvement

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OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT: Linking Learning, Assessment and Program Improvement

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  1. OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT:Linking Learning, Assessmentand Program Improvement James O. Carey Associate Professor Emeritus School of Information University of South Florida ALA Annual Meeting, June 27, 2011

  2. Overview • What is outcomes assessment? • Why do outcomes assessment? • What are the required elements of outcomes assessment? • How is an outcomes assessment process implemented? • Practical tips for successful outcomes assessment • Summary and Conclusions

  3. What is Outcomes Assessment? 3 Characteristics • Identifying desired outcomes • Assessing progress on outcomes • Using the results of assessment for improvement Roughly = To: • Institutional effectiveness • Accountability • Continuous improvement • Quality assurance • Formative evaluation

  4. NEEDS PLANNING ASSESSMENT PROGRAM What is Outcomes Assessment? Continuous process . . . . . . instead of an event.

  5. What is Outcomes Assessment? • At the institutional level • Institutional effectiveness • Accountability • For example: • The University’s goal is to graduate 80% of entering freshmen in 5 years • A three-year assessment indicates graduation rate of 63% in 5 years and points to financial problems as primary cause. • Office of Student Affairs will create a student services taskforce on alternative paths to financial viability

  6. What is Outcomes Assessment? • At the program level • Accountability • Outcomes assessment • For example: • A departmental objective is relevant job placement for 85% of graduates within 1 year of graduation • Surveys of alumni indicate 70% have found relevant placements in first year • An initiative is planned to contact relevant professional constituencies and develop structured involvement in the program with regional employers

  7. What is Outcomes Assessment? • At the program level • Student Learning outcomes assessment • Another example: • A library school wants graduates to be able to write an action research plan for a given problem scenario. • On the comprehensive exam, 18% of students fail the action research question and analysis indicates that most took the course with an adjunct • The curriculum committee standardizes the syllabus for the research course and the pass rate increases

  8. What is Outcomes Assessment? • At the classroom level • Student learning outcomes assessment • For example: • The instructor wants students to learn how to analyze service needs for a specified patron group • On the final project students consistently confuse patron needs with programming alternatives • The instructor develops new case studies on analyzing service needs, and performance on the final project improves to an acceptable level

  9. What is Outcomes Assessment? To summarize: • Has three basic components • Is part of a whole family of accountability methodologies • Goes by many names • Is used in many organizations in both public and private sectors • Is used at many levels within organizations for multiple accountability purposes

  10. Our Purpose Today • Institutional and programmatic learning outcomes assessment • For accreditation • Mandated, unit-level accountability • Shared responsibility Rather than • Course-level outcomes assessment • For course improvement • Elective, individual accountability • Personal responsibility

  11. Our Purpose Today Focus on: • Program level accreditation requirements • Systematic planning and evaluation • Student learning outcomes assessment

  12. Why Do Outcomes Assessment? • A systematic process of outcomes assessment is currently required for accreditation by: • ALA Committee on Accreditation • Parallel professional association accreditation (e.g., NCATE) • All eight regional higher education accreditation organizations • Most state boards of regents and departments of education • A proven methodology for best results from effort and resources

  13. Overview:Elements of Outcomes Assessment

  14. Student Learning Outcomes • What are they? • Statements describing knowledge and skills that students are expected to master by completion of their program of studies • Synonyms (sort of): • Core competencies • Learning objectives • Where do we get them? • Parent institution’s mission, goals, and strategic objectives • Unit-level mission, goals, and objectives

  15. Student Learning Outcomes • Where do we get them? (continued) • Professional standards • ALA/COA Standards for Accreditation (2008) (see Standards I and II) • ALA Task Force “Core Competencies” (2009) • ALA divisions and other library/information professional associations • Expert faculty members • Syllabi from core courses • Program advisory boards, alumni, employers, practitioners, students • Exemplary LIS programs • Futurists

  16. Student Learning Outcomes • What do they look like? • Declarative sentences describing what students will know and be able to do • Description of a single skill or set of closely related skills that can be assessed at the same time • Performance of the skill(s) should be observable, or result in an observable product • Performance of the skill(s) should be measurable; i.e., one can determine when it has been done successfully

  17. Student Learning Outcomes • How many should we have? • Don’t go overboard! • Remember, if you write it you will need to assess it and report on it. • Usually 2-5 outcomes for each core content area are sufficient. • Write outcomes at a high intellectual level (analysis and problem solving) that subsumes multiple sub-skills • For example: Students use strategic planning processes to guide the direction and progress of an organization VS Students list the steps in a strategic planning process

  18. Student Learning Outcomes Bad Ones: Good Ones: Students join relevant professional organizations.(observable &measurable) Students plan a simulated needs assessment for a given collection development problem(observable and measurable) • Students appreciate the value of professional organizations • Students become familiar with needs assessment for collection development

  19. Student Learning Outcomes Bad Ones: Good Ones: Students select scholarly literature appropriate for analyzing a current issue in LIS(observable and measurable) Students describe principles of fair use and write policy for applications in an information center(observable and measurable) • Students know the scholarly literature in the LIS field • Students understand principles of fair use and how to apply them

  20. Student Learning Outcomes Bad Ones: Good Ones: Students select a source of outside funding and write a proposal for support of a project(higher level skill) ? • Students find sources of outside funding for libraries and information centers • Students learn about cataloging tools and bibliographic utilities

  21. Student Learning Outcomes Bad Ones: Good Ones: ? ? • Students list the features of an effective reference interview • Students describe functional areas within libraries or information centers that offer opportunities for applied research

  22. Develop Measures of Outcomes • IF learning outcomes have been written well, logical measures are often implied • For example: Outcome: Students will identify and assess the specific information needs of user groups in the community and use that information to write a collection development policy Measure: Write a collection development policy for user groups in the following community scenario

  23. Develop Measures of Outcomes • Characteristics of good measures • Valid; that is, actually measures what it claims to measure • Reliable; that is, will yield consistent scores • Applied uniformly across all students or sampled across students • Objective or require consensus of more than one judge/evaluator/rater

  24. Develop Measures of Outcomes • Two general types of measures: • Direct measures (primary data) Describe the selection and configuration of technological resources required to solve the communications problems depicted in the following case study. (requires a product) • Indirect measures (supplemental data) How would you rate your ability to select and configure technological resources to solve communications problems? • Not adequate for an entry-level professional • Adequate for an entry-level professional • Above average for an entry-level professional • Equal to an experienced professional (elicits an opinion)

  25. Develop Measures of Outcomes • Examples of direct measures • Comprehensive examination w/rubric • Portfolio w/rubric • Products from capstone course w/rubric • Observation scale from fieldwork or internship • Standardized tests (local, state, or national) • Common course examinations • Licensure examinations • All examples must conform to characteristics of good measures

  26. Develop Measures of Outcomes • Examples of indirect measures • Exit interviews • Focus groups with students, alumni, supervisors, and employers • Surveys of students, alumni, supervisors, and employers • Reviews by advisory boards or councils • Case studies of cohort groups

  27. Develop Measures of Outcomes • What about students’ grades in classes, seminars, capstone courses, fieldworks, and internships? NO WAY! • Can not satisfy the characteristics of good measures

  28. Develop Measures of Outcomes • Set performance expectations • Once measures have been established, set the levels of performance that will be considered acceptable or “passing” • This is an internal “gatekeeping” function for student progress • for example: • Yes or no; right or wrong; pass or fail • 80% correct, 90% correct, 95% correct • Average rating of 4 on a 5 point scale to pass • Students must perform at 4.5 level on critical criteria #1 and #2, but can pass with an overall rating of 4.0 averaged across all 5 criteria

  29. Develop Measures of Outcomes • Practical considerations • Not a simple task • Requires a level of sophistication in testing and measurement • Requires a committee of the willing and/or a layer of administration for: • Design and development of direct measures • Design and development of indirect measures • Formative testing and revision of both direct and indirect measures

  30. Assess Learning Outcomes • Developing and carrying out an assessment plan • Practical considerations • Requires a committee of the willing and/or a layer of administration for: • Policy, procedures, and calendar for administration of measures • Policy, procedures, and calendar for grading • Policy, procedures, and calendar for notifying successful students and notifying and managing unsuccessful students • Procedures and calendar for recording, summarizing, and reporting results

  31. Assess Learning Outcomes • More practical considerations • It is difficult to measure all student learning outcomes with a single instrument in a single event • Use multiple measures, for example: • Comprehensive exam and products from capstone course • Capstone course products and portfolio • Portfolio and fieldwork observations • Sample across outcomes and students, for example: • Measure several outcomes in each comprehensive exam and rotate outcomes across exams each semester

  32. Organize and Interpret Results • Purposes for organizing and interpreting results • Confirm satisfactory performance • Detect performance problems • Detect faulty assessment instruments and/or procedures • Discover opportunities for programmatic expansion, reorganization, additions, cuts, and changes in overall direction • Address accountability expectations for the parent institution and for accreditation • Inform programmatic improvement

  33. Organize and Interpret Results • Set accountability expectations • How do we know when the program is meeting its obligations to its students, its institution, and its profession? • For example: • 90% of alumni will report “adequate” or better preparation on 90% of learning outcomes • 85% of our students will achieve an average rating of 4.5 or above on a 5-point scale on their capstone projects • 95% of students will rate a “pass” on student learning outcome #6 on the comps exam

  34. Organize and Interpret Results • Methods for organizing and interpreting results • Matrix analysis is most typical • Display student learning outcomes by measurement items and fill in results at the intersection, for example:

  35. Use Results for Improvement • Remember—no need to improve what is working well!!! • The dependent variable in this investigation is student learning • The independent variables are many! • Teaching and learning are parts of a complex system with multiple interacting components • Data can point to problems, but cause and effect relationships are difficult to establish


  37. Use Results for Improvement • Where would one look among all of the variables for opportunities for improving student performance? • Begin with assessment data • Look for gaps between performance expectations and actual performance • Look for gaps between accountability expectations and actual performance • Sharpen understanding of performance problems with qualitative data (See Table 1 in handout.)

  38. Practical Tips for Implementation • Establish authority for outcomes assessment A person or committee charged with managing the process and delegating assessment responsibilities • Establish an annual assessment calendar (See Table 2 in handout.) • Establish a uniform reporting format (See Table 3 in handout.)

  39. Summary and Conclusions • For good teachers, learning outcomes assessment is intuitive; good teachers are always improving what they do based on the results of what they have done in the past. • The challenges: • Infuse the logic of that “good teacher” intuition school-wide or department-wide • Create sustaining policies and administrative structures • “How we do it.” instead of “What we do for accreditation.”

  40. This PowerPoint presentation along with resource links for outcomes assessment will be available at: