No matter where you are in the process of implementing your student learning outcomes (SLO) program, you won’t get very far without the support of your institution’s faculty members. Gaining vital metrics driving learning improvements only succeeds when there is a unified front to meet the demands of a diverse set of stakeholders – accreditation agencies, parents and students.
Whether you are just beginning to evaluate your goals and needs, or you are about to implement an assessment, a cooperative strategy will foster more accurate results that reflect the knowledge and skill level of your student body.
(If you’re just getting started, we suggest these 7 Steps for a successful program)
Embrace an improvement mindset
Building consensus starts with agreement that the endeavor benefits everyone. Using student learning data to “check the block” depletes faculty interest in how such information can help them in their classrooms. It is vital to show faculty that your administration will be transparent in how data from the program will be used. Transparency is promoted in an environment where an institution empowers faculty members to be active participants in developing SLO programs and be key players in determining how the assessment data should and will be used.
Provide faculty with contextual data about your institution’s students
Faculty should have an understanding of your student body’s learning level before beginning an assessment. Whether it’s domain-specific knowledge, general education skills or noncognitive skills – such as study skills or student motivation – this big-picture perspective helps faculty members modify their individual teaching approach to improve learning. Usable information flowing from your SLO program empowers faculty to enhance their learning experience in their classrooms.
Faculty members have a more nuanced understanding of their students. Faculty should be able to review the assessments taken by their students to help identify performance standards that are appropriate. Mutual understanding on performance levels by a representative sample of students would hold weight in setting expectations of student performance.
Support resources to develop quality procedures and program design
Your institution’s investment into learning improvement requires some form of assessment. If that investment’s infrastructure is deficient, the investment is wasted. A display of commitment to provide what is needed builds participant confidence and can strengthen faculty interest in the process.
Reward participating faculty
Faculty members who provide helpful feedback and work to ensure their students participate in these assessments should be recognized for their commitment to the SLO program. Consider allowing faculty to submit research that focuses on student learning to increase the desire of the faculty to collect assessment data. Other ways to reward faculty could include allowing faculty members to use assessment activities as part of their service component to the university or granting release time to participate in assessment activities.
Having the right tools and knowledge for your cooperative strategy helps drive improved learning and institution effectiveness. Check out the HEIghten™ Outcomes Assessment Suite to learn more about Educational Testing Service’s expertise in assessment development and application or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.