The Framework for Student Learning Assessment
The College’s Student Learning Assessment System (SLAS) is designed conceptually as a hierarchical structure. At the apex of the system is each degree program. Next, each program is categorized by a number of competency areas, termed “Proficiencies.” Each Proficiency designates an important aspect of learning for a particular degree. For the B.F.A. in Film/Video, as previously mentioned, the Proficiency might cover “Cinematography” or the ability to compose a scene on film so that the lighting, camera angles, choice of camera equipment, and special effects all contribute to the director’s intent of a scene. The B.P.S. in Business Management includes a Proficiency for “Marketing” or the ability to promote a product or service. Each of the Proficiencies required in a Degree Program or for General Education is deemed critical to acquire for any graduating student.
Next in the hierarchical structure is a Graduation Standard established for each Proficiency. The Graduation Standard indicates the types of specific behaviors or performance expected of a student in a required course in order to demonstrate that a student has been able to minimally meet the level of aptitude required for the Proficiency. Graduation Standards are behavioral, objective and measurable so that they do not leave much latitude for variability in an instructor’s judgment of whether a standard has been or has not been met. An example of a “Graduation Standard” is that for the Proficiency “Oral Communication.” A student must, according to this standard, “Prepare and deliver a well-organized, content-rich and articulate public presentation of several minutes duration.”
In each required course for a Proficiency, a student must provide a specified document, final examination, presentation, research paper, project or other type of material. This material is evaluated by the appropriate division faculty and becomes evidence to determine if the student has met the Graduation Standard. The required material to document the attainment of a Graduation Standard is referred to as the Artifact. Artifacts are stored electronically in the College’s assessment software for later reporting to the student and analysis by advisors and the College.
Rather than evaluating an Artifact with only traditional grades (e.g., “A,” “B”), faculty employ what is termed a Rubric. A Rubric is a scaled evaluation tool consisting of: (a) a standard written evaluation of the Artifact, (b) a term to summarize the overall evaluation, e.g. “Acceptable,” “Unacceptable,” and (c) a digit to coincide with the level of acceptability on the standard for the Artifact, e.g. “Unacceptable” is “0,” “Acceptable” is “1.” The standard Rubric for evaluating Artifacts at the College consists of four categories: “Unmarked” or “0,” “Unacceptable” or “1,” “Acceptable” or “2,” and “Target” or “3.”
Instrumental components of the SLAS are designated timeframes in a student’s matriculation when an assessment is made of that student’s progress towards the expected degree. These timeframes are termed Portals and generally occur at four periods: (1) Upon a student’s acceptance and enrollment at the College to ensure that the student has the requisite capabilities to complete the program successfully, (b) Upon completion of one year of full-time enrollment at the College or approximately 27 credit hours, (c) Upon completion of three years of full-time enrollment at the College or approximately 87 credit hours, and (d) Upon filing the Application for Graduation.
To capture data on student learning, the College utilizes the software program PASS-PORT. PASS-PORT has been specifically designed for student learning assessment and has proven quite successful at individual and program level analysis and reporting. Each newly enrolled student at the College pays a student learning assessment fee that entitles the student to have access to the software, whether or not enrolled at the College, for a specified number of years. The student may renew his or her license with PASS-PORT when notified by the software company, Innovative Learning Assessment Technologies (ILAT, www.ilat.org) that the existing license for use is expiring. Separate training and learning materials on PASS-PORT are provided to students during their years at the College.