The assessment of student performance in general education courses helps us determine what our students already know and need to know in order to succeed here, at institutions of transfer, and in their careers. Student learning outcomes helps us identify what is being learned and enable us to make recommendations for improvements to our general education curriculum and to programs which will, in turn, increase the level of student performance in general education.
Arizona Western College graduates will demonstrate competency in:
1. Written Communication
2. Critical Thinking
3. Quantitative Analysis
4. Digital Literacy
Below is a general look at AWC's assessment program in this more in-depth look at AWC's General Education and the planning process can be found in this 13-page PDF file:
AWC G.E. Outcomes
The Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Program at Arizona Western College is an ongoing process that helps us understand what we do and prepared in a coordinated way to help us continually improve our educational processes and student learning.
Our outcomes assessment is conducted in three categories:
(1) General Education
(2) Program: Degrees and Certificates
(3) Courses and Designated Course Clusters
Assessment planning at all levels begins with an understanding of Arizona Western College Mission, Purpose, and Learning-Centered Values.
AWC graduates are assessed for competency in two of the four general education outcomes: Written Communication, Critical Thinking, Quantitative Analysis and Digital Literacy. See "General Education" on the left side of "Section Links" of this webpage for more information on General Education and reports on each general education outcomes including annual reports.
Degrees, Certificates and Course Clusters
The LEAP Committee (previously known as the Assessment Committee) developed a five-column matrix entitled, "Academic Achievement Report" also known as our Learining Outcomes template. Faculty engage in meaningful dialogue for the purposes of identifying student learning outcomes by completing this template. Faculty use the Learning Outcome template to identify, collect, and use assessment information they have gathered. To locate and view program outcome reports, please go to the left bar under "Section Links" and click on "Program".
Assessment of student learning is an organized collection of information about student learning. Through this collection of information from our learning outcomes reports we become informed of student learning. By organizing the information we are able to review the results and make decisions about how to improve learning.
This collection of information is achieved and include three key steps:
Articulate goals for student learning-reflect upon and evaluate the intended learning outcomes
Describe with evidence the accomplishments of the outcomes--gather evidence about how students are meeting those goals
Provide plans for improvements and opportunities to celebrate success
The outcomes assessment program at AWC is evolving and dynamic. It is based on shared values and goals of the stakeholders and provides grist for the improvement of learning, planning, and budgeting. Assessment tools are chosen, and performance standards are set. Assessment tools are used to gather information about learning. This information is used to determine what students know and can do. The student outcomes are measured against outcomes standards with the results indicating strong areas and areas that need improvement. Faculty use the results for curriculum planning and changes in learning activities to improve student learning.
A variety of assessment tools are used at AWC. Many assessment tools are embedded in the curriculum to minimize the time and effort required form students and faculty. Regular assignments may be evaluated to find out if learning outcomes are being achieved. Students may be asked to participate in surveys, interviews, or special testing. These do not affect the status of the individual students. The objective is to improve learning for all students.
An initial step in an assessment program is to state broadly what graduates or completers should know and be able to do as a result of completing a program. These statements appear as "Program Purpose" in every degree and certificate program.
Assessing Learning at the Course Level:
At the course level, student learning is assessed by faculty on the skills, values, and knowledge students are expected to know upon completion of the course. Faculty develop tests, student participation in discussions, role playing, student research projects/papers, and writing assignments are some of the requirements used to evaluate the effectiveness of AWC students achieving desired learning outcomes at the classroom level. End of course surveys are also used to monitor and develop teaching effectiveness and maintain and improve the overall quality of programs and courses.
"Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning. It involves making our expectations explicit and public; setting appropriate criteria and high standards for learning quality; systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; and using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance." Dr. Tom Angelo, Reassessing (and Defining) Assessment. The AAHE Bulletin, 48(2), November 1995, pp.7-9.
9 Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning
1. The assessment for student learning begins with educational values.
2. Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional.
3. Assessment works best when the programs it seeks to improve have clear, explicitly stated purposes.
4. Assessment requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to the experiences that lead to those outcomes.
5. Assessment works best when it is ongoing, not episodic.
6. Assessment fosters wider improvement when representatives from across the educational community are involved.
7. Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues or use and illuminates questions that people really care about.
8. Assessment is most likely to lead to improvement when it is part of a larger set of conditions that promote change.
9. Through assessment, educators meet responsibilities to students and to the public.
(A more detailed explanation of each principle can be seen at AAHE Principles)