From an all-college forum and survey on student learning outcomes (SLOs) conducted during the Fall 2005 semester, a list of common institutional themes became evident. The SLO Committee compiled the most identified values into 5 main categories in Spring 2006 and subsequently were approved by the Academic Senate in September 2006. The following core competencies reflect changes based upon the comments and was used to formulate LASC's Institutional/General Education SLOs (ISLO). These SLOs were revalidated by campus leadership in August 2008 and reflect knowledge, skills, and abilities a student is expected to leave the college with as a result of a student's total college experience.
LASC INSTITUTIONAL STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES
1. Communication (Oral and Written Skills)
• use language (oral and written) and non-verbal modes of communication appropriate to the audience and purpose.
2. Cognition (Reading Comprehension, Computational Skills, and Critical Thinking)
• use critical thinking and computational skills to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate ideas and information.
3. Information Competency (Information Competency and Technological Literacy)
• utilize research skills necessary to achieve educational, professional, and personal objectives.
4. Social Responsibility (Responsible Citizenship and Valuing Diversity)
• demonstrate sensitivity to and respect for others and participate actively in group and civic decision making.
5. Personal and Professional Development (Employability and Confidence Building)
• demonstrate self-management, maturity, and growth through practices that promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
During Spring 2011 semester, a pilot project involving three faculty in Anthropology, Biology, and English assessed their students in critical thinking (ISLO #2) and written communication (ISLO #1). Student work, including lab reports, oral presentations, and essays, were assessed using a common rubric. Results were then reported and analyzed in Fall 2011. The entire report with data were included in the Student Success Newsletter (November 2011).
The results indicated that students’ ability to think critically scored slightly higher than written communication skills. This is a positive element to the study since critical thinking is a central skill for problem solving on and off campus. It should be noted that there is room for improvement in both outcomes and faculty are encouraged to make critical thinking and written communication a priority in the classroom. An interesting note that emerged from the data is that students assessed in critical thinking through oral presentations outperformed other students when critical thinking was assessed from an essay. It is important to provide several forms of assessment (e.g., both written and oral) to accurately measure specific outcomes. One theory that was discussed by the ISLO assessment team is that for English language learners, assessing critical thinking from written documentation may provide a more accurate measure compared to an oral presentation.
The ISLO team identified two specific areas of growth in critical thinking that faculty can focus on within their classes: 1) Influence of Context and Assumptions and 2) Student’s Position. These two areas of critical thinking are paramount to success beyond LASC. Students need to understand how to analyze their own and other assumptions and how to carefully evaluate the relevancy of information when presenting a position. Students who know how to account for the complexities of an issue, synthesize the point of view of others, and develop a logical position or hypothesis, will be able to navigate through the challenges of life. The ISLO team, in order to meet this challenge, suggests that Library Science 101 (Library Research Methods) be a recommended class for research-based courses. Finally, it is encouraged that faculty utilizing assessment rubrics share and discuss s the rubrics with students at the beginning of the semester. This will enable faculty to clarify expectations of an assignment and allow students to ask question and self-assess.
The data collection will expand to include eight faculty representing six disciplines (Administration of Justice, Anthropology, Biology, Child Development, English, and Health) this Fall 2011 semester.