Use Student Data to Evaluate Success
As scientists, we understand the crucial nature of determining the validity or success of an experiment by gathering and interpreting data. The same approach can and should inform how we teach our science to students.
Develop Measurable Course-Level Learning Goals
Course-level learning goals that are used by all instructors who teach the course can provide valuable data on student progress. Effective learning goals are student centered, measurable, and often designed using Bloom's taxonomy. Measurable goals are those that can be assessed through common methods such as exam questions, term papers, or large projects.
- Using outcomes assessment data to change and improve: This session from the June 2017 workshop for Change Agents explored ways to use course-level outcomes data to support the project's goals. The session included a series of hands-on activities focused on analyzing data and action planning to enhance the use of data to optimize program improvement and impact.
- Designing Measurable Learning Goals: This set of webpages from the InTeGrate project draws on extensive previous work to lay out clear guidance for developing measurable learning goals.
- Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains (more info) : Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains was proposed in 1956 (Bloom et al., 1956) as a way of promoting higher forms of learning beyond simply memorizing facts. It has become a valuable tool in aligning a course's learning goals, assessments, and teaching activities to achieve the outcomes faculty want for their students.
The North Carolina team used Bloom's taxonomy to rewrite student learning objectives with a focus on metacognition and growth mindset. They also included a session on using Bloom's Taxonomy to align your goals, learning activities, and assessments in their 2017 workshop.
Use Effective Assessment Tools in the ClassroomAssessment tools can be used to provide both students and faculty with feedback on students' understanding of activity-level learning outcomes either as part of the course grade or simply as a formative check on student's progress. The data can be used by the faculty to modify teaching strategies and provide further interventions if needed.
- Cutting Edge: Assessment Techniques
- Pedagogy in Action: Assessment
- Jenny McFarland spoke about the Immediate feedback and assessment technique (IF-AT) as a way to use Bloom's Taxonomy to reveal student learning at the 2017 SAGE 2YC summer workshop in Tacoma, WA.
Chris DiLeonardo has created case-based, partially collaborative exams for his Introductory Geology classes at De Anza College. These exams involve critical thinking, application of learned methods, and built in opportunities for collaborative learning.
Assess Success at the Course, Program, and Institutional Level
Course-level outcomes data can and should be used to assess whether a program or department is succeeding in supporting the access and success of all students. Data from an individual course can lead faculty to redesign it for better results. Aggregate data such as the percentage of students passing with a C or better and how many students went on to take more geoscience courses can shed light on how well programs and departments are serving their students, particularly when the data can be broken out along demographic lines.
Examples of how teams have used data in their contexts
Program Level - Sean Tvelia of the New York team has used his data to showcase how programmatic changes have led to enrollment growth in the geoscience program while at the same time the college saw an enrollment reduction.
Institution Level - The North Carolina team used not only their actual data but their experience working with outcomes data to help strengthen student learning at their institution.
All of the Change Agent teams used outcomes measures to assess the impacts of their own work and wrote about what they found in their program descriptions.