notes from group 3: piloting outcomes-based articulation

Co-facilitators:  Jená Burges, Humboldt State University and Richard Mahon, Riverside Community College

Recorder:  John Tarjan, CSU Compass Project Steering Committee

Session 1—Brainstorming GE Outcomes
Opening discussion:  if we’re to discuss articulation by outcomes, then we should first be precise about what those outcomes are.
1. Hallmarks of being generally educated successfully
a. Being intellectually curious
b. Being unafraid of novelty, the unknown
c. Civic engagement
d. Confidence
e. Ability to understand and communicate one’s own and other’s viewpoints
f. Be willing to leave one’s comfort zones to explore ideas
g. Seeking opposing viewpoints
h. Intentional course selection to achieve learning goals
i. Demonstrating a love of learning/inquiry
j. On the way to successfully attaining LEAP outcomes
k. Possessing the foundational skills for career success in a changing economy
l. Attainment of life management skills
i. Financial management
ii. Health
iii. Career/life planning
iv. Etc.
m. Taking ownership of one’s own learning
n. Maturity (self-awareness, personal effectiveness, interactions with others)
o. Possessing job skills (note-taking, working with others, etc.)—these are outcomes that the University of California often either assumes or ignores
p. Possessing skills necessary for success in the upper-division
q. Having a more mature view of their role in society after completion
r. Being more aware of their own possibilities
s. Being more creative
t. Being aware of, and appreciating diversity of thought
u. Having the desire/ability to make a contribution to society
v. Being aware of possibilities
w. Being prepared for a career that meets one’s personal needs
x. Being self-reflective and analytical
y. Being able to identify reliable sources of information and to access them
z. Understanding why their experiences were valuable
aa. Being flexibility
bb. Taking ownership of education
cc. Being organized
dd. Broad range of knowledge
ee. Students still intellectually engaged 20 years later
ff. Willing to question rather than simply accept
2. Miscellaneous Comments
a. Perhaps a more appropriate question would be to define the type of society in which we would like to live. Citizens who are
i. willing to engage in political discourse and vote and who are informed voters;
ii. aware of the rest of the world and other peoples and cultures; and
iii. who have connections to others in their community.
b. A two-year degree no longer is valued by most employers. Perhaps by focusing on outcomes and preparation, a two-year degree might in fact prepare students for careers, even in the absence of a major. 
c. A question that should be addressed: What is the nature/purpose of upper-division GE in the CSU?
d. Despite conventional wisdom, physical science majors value GE courses, especially those that are challenging.
i. They add variety to their major studies
ii. They understand that these courses provide valuable skills and understandings
e. Many students like GE because it allows them to postpone selecting a major
f. How is college different from high school?
3. Assessment
a. Do we need a midpoint assessment (at transfer, after obtaining junior status)?
i. At this point, students should possess good practical problem solving skills.
ii. They should be prepared to succeed in upper-division coursework.
iii. The value of the outcomes obtained during the first 60 units should be obvious even to those who are unfamiliar with higher education/general education.
b. How do we give students credit for accomplishing the LEAP outcomes (what our prior discussion seemed to coalesce around) across institutions and departments other than via course completion? Some ideas include:
i. Being able to make an effective informative presentation to a general audience
ii. Engaging in “authentic assessment” which mirrors real life situations (e-portfolios can facilitate authentic assessment)
iii. Capstone assignments:  consider a mid-baccalaureate “capstone” experience that seeks to demonstrate lower-division GE proficiency; would be used to certify completion for both natives and transfers
iv. If we have outcomes-based assessment, can students demonstrate the completion of GE through work-related performance?
c. For whom do we do assessment?
i. Students
ii. Receiving institutions
iii. Outside groups
4. Preparing students for general education
a. It may be too late to introduce GE to students during freshman orientation. Students should begin to understand general education the value of GE outcomes in K-12.
b. We don’t talk about/make transparent learning outcomes for our students—we need to do a better job.
c. If we move towards an outcomes-based GE, expectations should be communicated to students well in advance to help them both to succeed and to understand why they are doing general education. Both expected outcomes and the rubrics used to assessed them should be clearly understood.

Session 2—Implementing GE Changes

1. Demonstrating accomplishment of outcomes
a. Via public presentation of idea/product:  explain it to a general (lay) audience, a result of team effort.
b. Via electronic portfolio including reflective explanation of how the work demonstrates competence.
c. Via “authentic assessments” that give students a chance to bring in demonstrations of real-world competence.  For example: a business problem that surfaces competence in philosophical principles like ethics.
d. The onus should be on the student: show us something that proves you can do x.
e. We should also allow students to have the chance to present something from outside of academia:  products of work for pay, military service, etc. that demonstrate GE work-based products.
f. Transportable e-portfolios can help to overcome departmental parochialism because it travels with the student and is accessible by outside groups.
2. Issues to be Considered
a. How does one authenticate e-Portfolios?
b. This approach could be awfully individualistic – how to equate non-traditional experiences with a shared classroom experience?  (For example, in distance ed you lose the chance to network, engage in sidebars, etc.)
c. The big challenge is operationalizing an increased focus on outcomes in a complex, large system.
d. We need to make things transparent and simple for students.
e. Our funding models (FTES in courses) do not support a shift to outcomes attainment.
f. The increased participation by traditionally underserved populations has made curricular reform, new funding models more difficult to implement.
g. Perhaps everyone’s interests can be served by granting credit for demonstrated outcomes (lower expense, faster degree attainment).
h. The current higher education budget picture needs to be considered. Is there pressure to do more with the same or less?
i. A focus on outcomes may allow for the use of non-traditional course materials (i.e. textbooks).
j. Focusing more on outcomes empowers students to be more responsible for their education and accomplishments.
k. The big challenge is introducing outcomes based assessment within a system.
3. Specific Outcomes
a. Is “professionalism” an appropriate GE outcome?
b. The materials for the conference have lots of good ideas to inform our discussion.
4. Process Issues
a. CSU and CCC faculty would need to continue to meet to develop, validate rubrics for assessing outcomes if we use outcome attainment as a measure of GE completion.
b. How can we make this happen without getting bogged down in implementation, while still providing for appropriate shared governance?
c. While faculty may support change in principle, they need to see concrete proposals/pilots in or der to respond appropriately.
d. GE reform should start with smaller-scale pilot projects.
e. Curricular change needs to be managed like any other change.
f. Academic administration may actually be a bigger stumbling block than reticent faculty.
5. Faculty-Related Issues
a. How do we convince the faculty who have doubts?
b. Curricular change in a collective bargaining environment is more complicated.
c. The workload involved needs to be a factor.
d. Curricular change may also fundamentally change the nature of a professor’s work.
e. What incentives are there for faculty members to move to a more outcomes based approach.
i. More creativity in instructional design.
ii. More student engagement.
iii. Perhaps students more engaged to prepare in deeper learning after completion of earlier outcomes.
iv. Increased job satisfaction.
v. Less pressure for grade inflation.
vi. New relationship between faculty and students.
vii. Increased ability to invoke/involve other faculty who may be involved in assessing one’s students.
viii. The use of things like e-portfolios can transform the teaching experience.
ix. Faculty can build their own portfolios as students demonstrate their outcomes electronically.
x. We need to consider the high percentage of our courses are taught by full-time faculty.
xi. We also need to consider the workload of the full-time faculty, who comprise less than half of the total faculty.
xii. Part-time faculty should be included in any GE reform. It would help to have resources to compensate them.
xiii. Faculty often indentify more with their department than with the university as a whole or the system as a whole. This implies work not only across course sections, but also across departments, across institutions and across systems.

Session 3—What is your vision for an outcomes-based GE program?

1. Process/Implementation Issues
a. Practical issues of implementation are very important. A pilot approach would be the most effective. e.g. Can evaluators/faculty effectively utilize e-portfolios?
b. Any initiative needs an integrated, effective communications plan to make it a success.
i. Goals of GE and the project.
ii. Targeted towards students, families, high schools, etc.
c. Pilot programs can alleviate fears and provide data for consideration.
d. Intersegmental collaboration is essential.
i. Clear objectives and parameters are key to getting UC faculty buy-in.
e. Faculty culture and governance need to be considered.
f. There may be an opportunity in CA as we are cutting programs due to budget difficulties. There may be less opposition to experimenting with change that may result in the redistribution of FTES across departments.
g. Perhaps a hybrid approach for a transition would be valuable. Students could pick and choose the experiences more applicable to them.
h. Perhaps students should have a choice of a traditional pathway and an outcomes-based pathway.
i. Modular approaches may allow for more efficient teaching and learning—and perhaps higher rates of degree completion. Students can progress at their own pace as they demonstrate learning outcomes.
j. Retreats might be a valuable resource for faculty and staff working on outcomes-based articulation.
2. Incentives to be Considered
a. Funding structures (based on FTES) may “punish” campuses and departments for innovating due to faster completion. However, we may end up with more students in the pipeline if we can engage them sooner.
b. Perhaps the state could account for achievement of outcomes even if they are achieved separately from completing course units.
c. Perhaps participation in this effort could be accounted for in RTP.
3. Outcomes
a. The process of writing is valuable even if does not receive faculty feedback. Perhaps the submission of items to e-portfolios may in a similar way advance learning and engagement in and of itself.
b. Interdisciplinary courses with applied projects may help to develop/demonstrate a variety of outcomes and in fact be a type of high impact practice.
c. Critical thinking would be a great course to combine with courses from other disciplines.
d. The social aspect of college is important and should not be supplanted entirely by curricular innovation.
e. Writing may be the most commonly-agreed upon “core” component of GE.
f. Perhaps the demonstration of critical thinking and logical reasoning via writing is the most central component.
g. New curriculum needs to be explained in terms of what students are expected to demonstrate and what the value of those outcomes will be.
4. Assessment
a. CCC transfer students do better on measures of success (GPA, graduation) than native public university students. There is concern that the students would be harmed. We should have an evaluation component within any pilot program dealing with GPA, persistence, graduation, etc.
b. The impact on the achievement gap should be assessed in any project.
c. The use of e-portfolios are individualistic. There have been many comments both supportive and critical of their use.  Remember these are not culturally neutral:  this is creating and broadcasting to the world your own personal showcase , which not every society values or encourages
d. What about students who transfer to a campus not a part of the pilot project?
e. We should experiment with different “sizes” of courses and activities that include a social component but might not be part of a formal class.
f. Perhaps articulating one outcome such as multicultural competency could be piloted using portfolios.

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