Institutional Effectiveness • FAQs
A: In this age of accountability, there is an expectation within Higher Education to routinely assess the effectiveness of our programs. As part of our normal routine, we continue to define our student learning outcomes (what we expect our students to learn), discover whether the outcomes are met (determine what our students actually know after completing our programs), and use the results of this assessment to improve our programs.
There is not really a problem, we are simply continuing to maintain our assessment process, which is in accordance with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and in the case of the Core Curriculum, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). We are engaged in assessing student learning as a continuous process which requires cooperative effort and commitment by all of us at Midland College.
Q: I don't really understand the difference between outcomes and competencies, can you explain?
A: In the sense of student learning, outcomes and competencies are essentially the same. However, confusion may exist when applying these words.
There are three sets of student knowledge/skills that we assess:
- Program specific Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
- General education competencies that all graduates are expected to demonstrate - Communication & Critical Thinking
- The State Core Curriculum Competencies – Communication, Critical Thinking, Empirical & Quantitative Skills, Teamwork, Personal Responsibility, Social Responsibility
Student Learning Outcomes are the outcomes of our programs. This means that the most important concepts/skills have been identified that we want our students to know/accomplish upon completing our programs.
General education competencies are college-level skills that are introduced in the General Education courses and developed throughout the curriculum. These competencies are defined by us – Midland College.
Core Curriculum Competencies are the recently announced requirements by the THECB. The Core Competencies are Critical Thinking, Empirical & Quantitative Skills, Communication, Teamwork, Personal Responsibility, and Social Responsibility.
Clearly, some overlap exists regarding what we are to assess and for whom we are assessing.
Q: I vaguely remember hearing something about these before, this is not new?
A: No, in fact, for most of our programs, the specific SLOs have been defined, assessed (for several years) and improvements are underway. We are currently within the second year of a 2-year cycle. Specifically, we are in the stage of implementing improvements from our previous 2013-14 assessments and completing reports. We will begin another2-year cycle of assessment in the fall 2015 semester, during which faculty will again be asked to submit samples of student work.
Q: How are these Student Learning Outcomes going to be assessed?
A: For all of the Associate of Applied Science and Certificate programs student work is used from certain courses to assess the SLOs. The list is too long to include, but the courses have been selected by the faculty as the appropriate places to assess skills based on their curriculum.
For the Associate of Arts (AA) in General Studies degree, samples of student work will be collected from courses, such as: HUMA 1301, ARTS 1301, MUSI 1306, HIST 1302, GOVT 2305 and ENGL 2322. These courses were selected because they are among those most commonly taken by AA graduates.
For the Associate of Science (AS) in General Studies degree, samples of student work will be collected from courses, such as: MATH 1314, MATH 2413, BIOL 1406, CHEM 1411, and GEOL 1403. As with the AA degree, these AS courses were selected because they are among those most commonly taken by AS graduates.
Q: What about the other competencies, in what courses are those being assessed?
A: The courses that are involved in the general education competency assessment were chosen by considering several criteria. One consideration was that the courses represent the various delivery styles (face-to-face, online, distance ed) and are offered on the different campuses (main campus, WRTTC, Dual enrollment in the high schools, etc.). Another important criterion is the need to select student work samples taken near the end of degree, certification or course completion. This method should give us the best evidence of what our students have learned.
The courses include most of the same courses listed above, which are:
1) For AA and AS degrees: ENGL 2322, ARTS 1301, HUMA 1301, MUSI 1306, HIST 1302, GOVT 2305,
BIOL 1406, CHEM 1411, GEOL 1403, MATH 1314, MATH 2413, SPCH 1311 and SPCH 1315.
2) In addition, student work will be collected from courses in selected AAS programs.
Q: How will the SLOs be assessed?
A: For most AS and AA courses, faculty developed rubrics will be used by teams of faculty to evaluate the student work. Most of the AAS courses are evaluated by exams, projects or other assignments.
Q: How are the other Core compentencies being assessed?
A: Most of the courses will use the same student work documents that are used for the Student Learning Outcome (SLO) assessment. However, the competencies will be assessed using a different rubric (again developed by faculty) applied to ALL of the documents from ALL disciplines by a team of faculty.