Assessment and Improvement of Student Learning
This section of the report is organized into the following sections:
Conclusions discusses the overall results and future direction of the assessment of student learning effort. Appendix A contains bylaws and minutes of the Assessment and Student Learning Committee.
Appendix B is the Accuplacer placement guide.
Appendix C is a study of placement and retention of English students
Appendix D lists activities at the Learning and Writing Center that relate to assessment issues.
In September of 1997, the Assessment and Improvement of Student Learning Committee was formed. This group included faculty members, from general education, occupational education, and administrators. The committee members included:
Frank Armijo Vice President of Instruction
Phyllis Brown Director of Student Support Services
Carol Cimino Dean of Continuing Education
Francis Cuckow Counselor in Student Advising
John Giron Dean of Student Services
Deb Haverfield Nursing Faculty at San Luis Valley Center
George Leone Math Faculty at Trinidad Campus
Paul Montera Dean of Occupational Education
Carol Rankin Math/Science Faculty in Student Support Service
Phil Rouse Dean at San Luis Valley Center
Darwin Swett Social Sciences Faculty at Trinidad Campus
Phil Tate English Faculty at Trinidad Campus
Sandy Veltri Business Faculty at Trinidad Campus
Since 1997, several members have retired or resigned their positions at Trinidad State Junior College. Their replacements are as follows:
Phyllis Brown Merrill Glustrom, Director of Student Support Services
Phil Rouse Gordon Snowbarger, Dean at San Luis Valley Center
The committee’s function was (and is) to:
(See Appendix A for the complete Bylaws of the committee.)
A faculty member was appointed as Chair and Assessment Coordinator and under her direction, the committee met a minimum of twice each semester during the first year. Since then, the committee has met a minimum of once each semester to review implementation progress and proposed changes to the plans. Copies of the committee bylaws and minutes from the committee meetings are attached in Appendix A.
Progress Since NCA Visit
The committee initially established its bylaws and procedures and then began by forming a plan of action (see Appendix A, page 33, November 13, 1997). The first task was to develop a "General Education Statement" as it exists in the college’s culture. This was done by a free-forum e-mail exchange with all faculty members. Secondly, the committee set out to help divisions develop their individual assessment plans. The Plan for Assessing Student Academic Achievement was written and submitted to Dr. Cecilia Lopez for her review and suggestions. The following are areas that were addressed by the plan:
Trinidad State Junior College continuously evaluates how student learning is being measured. The College recognizes that, not only was it necessary to measure student success in the academic (Associate of Arts degrees, Associate of General Studies degrees, and Associate of Science degrees) and occupational areas (Associate of Applied Science degrees and certificates), but also in the developmental studies area.
Before the committee went forward with assessment tools and implementation, they facilitated a campus-wide discussion to corporately define "general education" for Trinidad State Junior College. The college has the responsibility of adhering to the general education requirements and philosophies as prescribed by the Colorado Commission of Higher Education (CCHE). This narrative does not replace those requirements but, rather, strengthens it.
General Education Statement
Trinidad State Junior College is the oldest public two-year college in Colorado. Its mission statement reflects multiple functions:
The college requires that all associate degree-seeking students complete a general education curriculum. The number of hours of general education courses are: 34 for the Associate of Arts degree, 33 for the Associate of Science degree, 34 hours for the Associate of General Studies degree, and 15 hours for the Associate of Applied Science degree. Each of these requirements is distributed to ensure depth and breadth. Upon successful completion of this "core" coursework for the AA or AS degrees, the student is ensured transfer to any of the eleven Colorado public four-year schools with their lower division general education requirements complete. In nearly every case, however, these courses transfer successfully to out-of-state and private colleges as well.
The statement of the general education philosophy
of Trinidad State Junior College is:
Ultimately, the college works toward the creation of an informed citizenry with the ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and solve problems. The college strives to provide a general education which promotes tolerance, lifelong learning and a devotion to free inquiry and free expression, to assure its graduates are individuals of character more sensitive to the needs of community, more competent to contribute to society, and more civil in habits of thought, speech, and action.
The college defines general education as courses that are balanced and broadly-based, which expose the student to the mainstreams of thought and interpretation in humanities, sciences, communications, mathematics, social studies, and arts; and that develop the student’s understanding of the interrelationships among these fields of study. These courses must not be directly related to a student’s formal technical, vocational, or professional preparation.
Each division will be responsible for the identification of competencies and outcomes for their area. It will also be the responsibility of each area to identify how gain is to be measured and assessed. A follow-up report will be written yearly to the college administration identifying the standards, measures, and assessment tools from each division with assessment results. This report will contain findings, interpretation, and recommendations from the respective faculty, division/department, or program to the administration for budgetary, staffing, and program issues.
One concern that was voiced by the North Central Association consultants in response to the 1995 Plan for Assessing Student Academic Achievement, was the lack of a comprehensive assessment plan for the general education areas. The Occupational Education component was praised for its comprehensive review of measurement of standards and gains in a student’s educational pursuit, as well as the tools for measuring student success. With this in mind, the College and its faculty developed assessment plans for the Associate of Arts degree, Associate of Science degree, Associate of General Studies degree, and the Associate of Applied Science degree and certificates. These plans were first implemented in May 1998. Data has been collected and interpreted for the first pilot group and results will be addressed in the Findings section on page 13.
As part of this effort, the Assessment Coordinator reviewed all "core" course information sheets to evaluate compliance with general education standards. A report was given to the Vice President for Instruction. The Vice President then discussed the findings with the Deans/Division Chairs and asked for their assistance in ensuring that faculty incorporated all standards of general education in their course information sheets.
Student persistence and completion of educational objectives
A degree audit program known as "On-Course" provides timely information regarding students’ course work. "On-Course" is a degree audit processing and advisement module of the student records component of the Student Information System. Advisors use it to customize advising and scheduling for each individual student. Everything from placement scores to course status to transcripts is available to faculty and advisors. Program area faculty can check class rosters, course times and locations, past trends for courses, and investigate the effectiveness of their programs and program offerings. On-line catalogs are maintained through faculty involvement in each program area. Students may access their academic progress report via a read-only web-based program. This also allows them to do "what-if" analyses for any academic program they choose on-line. The institution benefits from this program by reducing advising errors and by reducing graduation checkout time. Students benefit by getting timely and accurate information on graduation status, courses possibilities, and degree requirements. An advisor can sit with a student and track the student's progress in a degree program from start to completion and thus avoid unnecessary course work. Faculty and staff use the system to do research regarding such topics as completion rates (Appendix C is an example of such a study).
Placement Rates and After-graduation Performance
Placement rates from all graduates are currently collected from the Follow-Up Survey of Program Completers, an instrument known as the VE-135. Until two years ago, only the Occupational Education Division used this instrument to track graduates' job placement and satisfaction; the instrument is now administered to all associate degree graduates. Each occupational education instructor is responsible for collecting data from their program's graduates using the VE-135. The data from the VE-135 is collected, analyzed, and forwarded to the Vice President for Instruction. Additionally, the Math/Science Division recently devised an extension of this instrument to use as their assessment tool to measure after-graduation performance of graduates, particularly students who transferred to four-year schools. The Assessment Committee plans to further consider the role of the VE-135 in the assessment of student learning.
In addition to the VE-135, the Occupational Education Division administers three separate survey instruments each spring semester and in the following order: a student satisfaction survey, a graduate survey, and a supervisor/employer survey (administered only if graduates grant permission for the division to survey their employer). The data from these instruments is disseminated and discussed within the Occupational Education Division.
The Occupational Education Division also administers a graduate survey. Data collected from the 1996 occupational education graduates reflects the following:
In the fall of 1999, the institution decided to administer the Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Survey. The survey was administered in February of 2000. Completed surveys were forwarded to the Noel-Levitz Company for data summary. That data summary was reported to the TSJC administration in late spring. The Assessment and Improvement of Student Learning Committee plans to consider the data carefully; make recommendations to the administration; and disseminate the results to all staff via e-mail. Briefly, the spring 2000 data seems to indicate that students are satisfied with all aspects at the college except parking and safety issues; these were the only issues Trinidad State Junior College ranked lower in than similar institutions nationwide. The issues that students indicated as most satisfactory were Individual Student Attention, Academic Advising, Academic Services, and Instructional Effectiveness.
In addition, the Assessment Committee is currently reviewing all surveys conducted on the campus to ensure that there is minimal repetition; to monitor that post-graduate surveys are being gathered; and that the data collected is shared with all departments at the College.
Trinidad State Junior College has just completed its second year of implementation of the Assessment and Improvement of Student Learning Plan. Data, pertaining to student learning in the Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Science and Associate of General Studies degrees, has been collected and is currently being evaluated. The following is a brief summation of the methodology, findings, and recommendations for further development and use of data.