Syllabi, Student Learning Outcomes, Rubrics, and Assessment
After reviewing ACCJC (WASC) accreditation standards for course syllabi, the Academic Senate has determined that we must have course syllabi for all our active courses available to students and ACCJC visiting teams.
Current (June 2014) ACCJC Standard regarding Syllabi:
Standard II.A.3. The institution identifies and regularly assesses learning outcomes for courses, programs, certificates and degrees using established institutional procedures. The institution has officially approved and current course outlines that include student learning outcomes. In every class section students receive a course syllabus that includes learning outcomes from the institution’s officially approved course outline.
As a result, the Academic Senate is recommending to all department chairs that faculty submit the syllabi for all courses they teach each semester to the department administrative assistant.
Academic Senate Syllabus Template [UPDATED August 2013]
Course information including SLOs (Click on the course you are interested in. Choose from the Alphabet links at the top.)
Degree information including SLOs: (Click on AA, AS, or Certificate and then find the one you are interested in.)Letter Grade Default Alert - Please include this information on your Syllabus
Beginning with Fall 2010:
Courses that have an option of a Letter Grade or Pass (P)/ No Pass (NP) will automatically default to the Letter Grade option. Students who would like Pass/No Pass grading have until 30% of the course to change their grading option. Courses that are graded only with Pass/No Pass as stated in their Course Outline will default to Pass/No Pass. Course syllabi should be revised to reflect this change.
The Academic Calendar page in the college website will list the "Last Day to Request P/NP Grade for full-term classes".
Your syllabus is first of all your contract with your students. If you don't use the Senate's syllabus template above, it should include all the information they need to be successful. Syllabi outline the course objectives and policies and explain what new skills or knowledge the student will gain. The following is a broad guideline. Include what makes sense to you for your class.
Part I: General Information
Part II: Course Description
Part III: What can students expect during class?
Part IV: Textbooks and Materials
Part V: Schedules
Part VI: Grading
Part VII: Outline your expectations and course policies
Part VIII: Expectations go both ways!
Part IX: Other helpful Advice
Part X: Student Contact Exchange
Part XI: For courses with an online component
Helpful Syllabus Links
As a teacher at College of Marin or in any setting, one’s responsibilities include more than showing up and teaching your class. As teachers most of us have a desire to improve our delivery, to better facilitate students’ acquisition of skills and to integrate our own courses with those taught by our colleagues so that students leave one class prepared to take on the challenges of the next one. Teachers are constantly assessing their students’ work and hopefully also assessing their own performance. Self-reflection is key to becoming more effective teachers. Over the years the needs of our students have changed and new challenges have arisen. Ongoing dialogue is a vital to finding solutions.
Those of you who studied the art of teaching were trained to write behavioral objectives which described what our students would be able to do. These objectives have morphed into something a little broader which encompass a higher level of competency and integration of skills – fondly or not so fondly known as STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES or SLOs for short. (Do I hear groans, gnashing of teeth and hair pulling?) Those of you who have written or revised course outlines in the last few years have run into SLOs and have dutifully written them into your outlines carefully using BLOOMS’ TAXONOMY…
SLOs, however, are more than something written in a course outline and put into a binder or a folder on your desktop. They are part of the contract you make with your students – that tells them what you expect them to be able to do. These outcomes should be articulated at a broad college-wide or discipline level and then more specifically at the course level. Course level SLOs should be included in our syllabi. They should guide our assessments of student progress. At the course level you already do this assessment every time you test and grade your students. Why should we explain it or talk about it? Are we required to do this? No. Should we? Yes, we should - not only because it is a good idea professionally, but because it is required for our accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
From the WASC Guide to Evaluating Institutions on the Characteristics of Evidence:
The evidence the institution presents should also be about student learning outcomes (mastery of the knowledge, skills, abilities, competencies, attitudes, beliefs, opinions and values at the course, program and degree levels in the context of each college’s mission and population) and should include data on the following:
Sources of evidence needed from faculty include:
In an effort to centralize all the evidence we DO have that proves that we have worked on SLOs, a College of Marin SLO Wikispace has been created. In it you will find pages for every discipline. Any SLO work available from each discipline has been attached or copied into the individual pages. These had been written at various times in the last 3-4 years but not widely or easily made available to the faculty at large. SLOs from course outlines are also being entered into the wiki for ease of reference, discussion and anlysis.
In January of 2009, t he Academic Senate approved a set of 5 broad SLOs for the college as a whole. These are as follows:
COLLEGE OF MARIN RESOURCES:
Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) for GE and Institutional Level
Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) for Student Services
Program Review Website
NOTE: These hints have been culled from a variety of sources across California and the US. (Cabrillo College, El Camino College, Miracosta College, colleges in the east, community colleges and universities). Since they are often the same from place to place, it is difficult to know where they originated.
Hint: Sometimes it’s easier to start backwards by thinking about the major assessments you use in the course. These would be the products or demonstrations of your outcomes. Make a list of your major assignments for this course. Then try to describe in one sentence what the students are being asked to demonstrate in those assignments.
Some Dos and Don’ts:
Course objectives describe small, discreet skills or “nuts and bolts” that require basic thinking skills. They are subsets of outcomes. Think of objectives as the building blocks used to produce whatever is used to demonstrate mastery of an outcome. Objectives can be practiced and assessed individually, but are usually only a portion of an overall project or application.
Step One: Chose one course SLO from one class that you are teaching in a particular semester.
Step Two: Chose one major graded assignment that you feel measures some aspect of the course SLO. It should be an assignment you always give that you feel is important.
Tests, projects and assignments should be designed to show what students can do, not what has been covered. From the beginning of the term, students should know how they are going to be evaluated and what criteria will be used.
Step Three: Develop a rubric or grading scale that articulates in words how you grade that assignment. If you only use exams, identify groups of specific questions on one of your major exams that you feel address the competency. It will be most helpful if there are several questions.
Step Four: Give the assignment or exam this semester. Grade it using the rubric you developed in Step Three. If you are using an exam with scanners, make a second key to grade the specific questions related to the SLO. Keep a record of the rubric or the questions and the results.
Step Five: Analyze the results of your assessment. Share the assignment you gave, the methods or rubrics you used to grade it and the results with your colleagues. If more than one section of a class gave the same assignment share the results with each other or score the assignments together if you are comfortable doing that. Based on the results, describe how you would change or improve the teaching of this assignment. Were you satisfied? What do you need as an instructor to improve your teaching and/or the student learning of the assignment? What does your department need to have to improve the teaching and learning in department courses in general. What do you need from the college?
In addition to the common rubrics linked above for COM General Education and college wide SLOs, here are some useful links that detail how to create rubrics in different areas.
Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges - Learning Assessment
General Education Assessment
Examples of SLOs from other Colleges
Online Faculty Handbook web pages