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From CUNY Academic Commons

The New Community College A&P Working Committee

Meeting Notes
October 20, 2009

As the committee begins to tackle the work of developing a system of assessment for the new community college, the committee has begun to explore three strands that frame the work over the next three months: 1) what are the assumptions we bring to designing a system, 2) what values do we want to see captured in this work, and 3) what questions do we have that need further investigation.

Assumptions

  • There are a set of core competencies defined by the NCC working committees that every student should demonstrate at the end of the first year and upon graduation.
  • Developing an authentic assessment system that serves students, faculty and the institution requires resources. Resources must be available not just on start up but on an ongoing basis.
  • As faculty are hired, that their values and teaching philosophy are consistent with the collaborative inquiry based model of the NCC. (The antecedent is that the NCC will seek out faculty who can best develop, implement and refine the model.)
  • Faculty will be able to articulate exactly what they expect from students and provide samples so that students develop a clear understanding of expected student learning outcomes, and how their progress will be evaluated.
  • Portfolios must be well thought out measures that capture the breadth and depth of student development.
  • Learning in the community college is a collaborative process not just faculty with peers but faculty with students and students with other students
  • A well designed portfolio system can help students connect learning and experiences across their course work.
  • The portfolio experience can create opportunities for students to understand their strengths and areas for improvement. Portfolios should inform the development of teaching strategies that enable improvement.
  • Developing student portfolios requires faculty involvement and collaboration.
  • Demonstration of competencies can take a variety of forms in addition to writing.
  • Creating a system that meets the needs of the NCC does not involve full reinvention. There are existing tools and metrics that can be used as models to accomplish what is desired.
  • Using student learning assessments to rate or review faculty (not programs or systems) will cause antagonism and compromise the tool itself.

Values

  • student learning is the core motivation for all the college’s activities
  • diversity of student aptitudes, competencies, and learning styles is to be recognized and built upon
  • honest and transparent communications among students, faculty, and administration
  • students ownership of their learning experience
  •  informed decision-making for students, faculty and administration
  • integration of assessments in the institutional culture
  • responsiveness to change and diversity
  • be iterative and evolve with faculty leading and engaging the process

An assessment system should/can…

  • reflect the important transitions throughout students’ academic career beginning with the summer bridge program through graduation
  • consider and possess specific assessment measures and tools defined by fields and disciplines and the overarching learning objectives of the college
  • emphasize writing, reading, quantitative and vocational skills regardless of the field of study
  • support and foster collaborative and reflective inquiry
  • support organizational norms that use assessment to support teaching and learning
  • systematically link assessment results with ongoing faculty development
  • grows out of the frameworks established for teaching and learning
  • understands that assessment serves many roles and takes more than one form
  • understands that using measures for dual purposes can compromise its integrity
  • use a diversity of tools
  • have clarity about which tools meet particular needs
  • differentiate between assessment for improvement and accountability
  • create opportunities for students to serve as models and guides for peers in a manner that facilitates growth for both groups of students
  • model an alternative assessment system with rigor and standards
  • include assessment for improvement as well as accountability, recognizing different tools are required

    Other Values:

Faculty development and review could be facilitated through the use of portfolios. Moreover, the act of establishing their own professional portfolios will support their work with students. “I know and understand what I do.”

Questions for further exploration/response

  • Will assessments inform student placement?
  • Will assessment inform pace of progress?
  • How does assessment relate to the approval of credits?
  • Who uses assessment data? What’s the right sequence (for assessment)?
  • When and how might the NCC diagnose learning issues? And what will the NCC do for students with diagnosed learning issues?