Over the last year, our focus has been on degree-granting programs and the Core Curriculum. At the degree program level, we’re working to build capacity within each department so that faculty can sustain a meaningful and manageable assessment process. Our approach will be incremental, with programs first developing assessment plans in 2013, assessment reports that reflect the collection and assessment of student work in 2014, and progress reports that show use of findings in 2015. To date, nearly every degree-granting program has developed an assessment plan and is poised to report on how it is using assessment to demonstrate what their students have learned.
Assessment within the Core Curriculum has begun. A framework for assessment has been developed and a pilot assessment of the Core’s Social, Historical, and Cultural Understanding learning goals was completed in Spring 2013. Future assessments will focus on the Core's “Habits of Mind” learning area. The goals for written communication, critical thinking, shared inquiry (oral communication), and information evaluation and research practices will be assessed over the next several years. Assessment of these "core competencies" is highlighted in our most recent report to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
While we acknowledge the role of accreditation and “accountability” more generally in these efforts, we strive to do assessment for ourselves. The primary reason we assess is to continuously improve student learning and the quality of our academic programs. This drive to assess for the sake of improving ourselves and what our students learn underlies all of our discussions on assessment. We invite all SMC faculty, staff, and students to jon the conversation on assessment!