Evaluating Learning


RETUrN Handout: Student Paper Guide (Acrobat (PDF) 100kB Jul17 08)

Evaluation and Assessment

We assessed the student's learning progress at two points during the semester. The SALG instrument was used since it is very flexible and we were each able to tailor the instrument to assess our planned learning outcomes yet at the same time, was also great because both of us were asking rather similar questions. The answers were entered by students directly onto the computer and analysis was done right away. Since we gave class time to use the nearby computer lab there was no excuse for students to not get it done. The drawback was the small class size 11 made any statistical analysis impossible. Acknowledging the small class size, each SALG data set showed an increase in civic responsibility as an outcome of the learning community.

The student's final papers and essays reflect that they were able to successfully do original research on Alameda. Students definitely went beyond the bounds of the normal upper division research project. Everyone incorporated at least one personal interview into their research. They were able to do research using archival material at the Alameda Main Library and Naval documents a well as internet sites, newspaper articles, and integrate these findings with the main concepts from the class.

Additional Outcomes of the 2003 Learning Community

  • The compiled research papers from the class will be deposited in the library archives, as well as the senior thesis related to AP, to give our research results back to the community.
  • The students gained a much greater understanding of time and commitment needed by citizens to see a community redeveloped to their benefit.
  • The SENCER general science education course was highlighted in a successful grant to the Dreyfus Foundation to purchase a new field portable XRF instrument to more easily infuse civic engagement aspects throughout the science curriculum at Saint Mary's College.
  • one LC student decided to sign up for an independent study working with the Alameda Point Collaborative (APC)
  • The students have greater understanding of the limitations of science and difficulties that toxicologists have to deal with when they compile an environmental risk assessment.
  • Both faculty members have given presentations at conferences on various aspects of the RETUrN learning community.
  • Both faculty have served as a resource to the development of additional learning communities through workshops and consultations.
  • Two LC students presented their research project posters at a sociological undergraduate symposium (April 2004).
  • Both preceptors contributed to a conference paper presented by Phylis
  • Both preceptors have gone onto graduate school, in part related to the LC experience
  • Community contact continues in numerous ways especially with the nonprofit HSP, the Alameda Point Collaborative:
    • A Saint Mary's College politics class performed a class project with APC (Spring 2004)
    • The APC is now a student outreach service site with many ongoing activities each coordinated by the CILSA office.
    • A Bonner leader student has also begun working with APC.
    • Another general science course shared an experiment with children in the APC after-school program (Spring 2005)
  • The final video is nearing completion and copies will be provided to the community, which opens more opportunities for the upcoming learning community.

Sencer Course Development Template (Acrobat (PDF) 113kB Jul17 08)

Community Event

Final Reflections/Plans for Future

Professors Steve Bachofer and Phylis Martinelli were invigorated and challenged by teaching this learning community. In the Spring 2006 learning community, the students will be required to be in the laboratory and both faculty have decided to link to lower division courses. This will be done to encourage higher enrollment. The Natural Science course will basically remain the same, but the sociology component will be taught as a Social Problems class. The SP class will focus on research methods, urban studies, poverty, racism, and health, and will fulfill either an area "C" general education requirement or a course for sociology majors. This decision will be quite likely require that the students may need more guidance in compiling their research projects, however the faculty feel that the project work can still be accomplished, especially because they will continue to use student preceptors. As Phylis and Steve prepare to teach the RETUrN LC again, new materials on the development of the site and their experience working with community members should facilitate a richer educational experience for more students in the Fall of 2005.