Brooklyn College has not had a great culture of assessment. The biggest eye-opener for me was a conference I attended on Assessment in Seattle 2008 with my colleagues Scott Dexter and Andrew Arlig. Seeing the enthusiasm for faculty-driven, self-critical, and curriculum-changing assessment at other institutions has made me a believer that it can be done differently, less box ticking, more self-reflection. I’m lucky to be in a department committed to meaningful self-reflection and change to meet the needs of our students.
Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment of Learning Communities
Below are the slides of joint presentation I gave in Montreal in 2009 with Wayne Powell in which we try to develop and share meaningful forms of qualitative assessment regarding our First-Year Learning Community. This was a follow up to our quantitative assessment of the efficacy of our previous year’s FLC.
[You can press pause and navigate the slides manually, rather than rely on the auto play.]
Example of Place-Based Learning Community Lesson Plan (Shared as Handout with the above conference presentation)
Rubric Assessment of Student Writing
One of the most powerful tools for assessment of teaching efficacy is using BlackBoard rubric grading. Below are two reports from Spring 2016 generated from my two CLAS 1110 sections (142/160 students submitted papers in one, 132/160 in the other). The numbers are large enough that I have confidence in the trends, especially when the two sections produce similar results. It is the 3rd page of each report that is the most useful. Based on a comparison of the two, my major goal for these cohorts is to improve the use of evidence to support their arguments for their 2nd paper.
This is different from my “gut instinct,” which was that theses were the weak point. The data says otherwise! I can make a bigger difference to the quality of my students’ writing if I include more help on how to support their theses with evidence.
The “Feel Good” Feedback
Student testimony, especially spontaneous testimony, is a traditional part of a teaching portfolio. It isn’t really assessment. We don’t tend to put in the angry emails about grades and other such testimony. That said, it is of value to an instructor. Such testimony reminds me of my impact. The ‘feel good’ feedback motivates us to keep trying. In a demoralizing profession with many hard moments its good to have tangible examples of why it is important to go on.