Faculty and Institutional Research team up on innovative approach to student assessment based on VALUE Rubrics
Faculty at Inver Hills Community College are participating in the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment (MSC), an initiative that provides valuable evidence about student achievement in vital learning outcomes. Working with the college’s Institutional Research office, instructors are contributing student artifacts (papers, assignments, projects, etc.) in an innovative assessment process that applies VALUE Rubrics developed by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).
The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) has partnered with the AAC&U to spearhead the initiative. Ten states—Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine (joined spring 2015), Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Utah—are employing a learning outcomes assessment model founded on:
- Campus/system collaboration
- Authentic student work
- Faculty curriculum development and teaching activity
Wendy Marson, the college’s institutional research director, reported that the MSC represents a shared desire among participating institutions to avoid state and/or federally mandated standardized testing in higher education. The goal is to keep assessment in the realm of knowledgeable, experienced educators who work directly with students.
“MSC results provide valid evidence of student learning for external stakeholders while giving faculty information that can help them continually improve their work as educators,” Wendy said. “Inver Hills joined the MSC as part of its work with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Assessment Academy to improve and lend greater validity to its learning outcomes assessment processes. The college participated in the pilot year, 2014–2015, and is currently participating in the 2015–2016 demonstration year. Thirty-four instructors took part during the pilot year. Forty-seven participated in fall 2015.”
Wendy added that Inver Hills also joined the Minnesota VALUE project, which uses VALUE Rubrics as well. Allison Reeck, an IR research analyst, has been working hard to help faculty take part in both initiatives. Minnesota VALUE is a collaboration of several Minnesota private and public four-year and two-year colleges. Wendy and Allison noted that the goal is to prove the concept at scale and make VALUE Rubrics the assessment vehicle of choice across American higher education.
Steve Hartlaub, Spanish and French language faculty at the college, serves as the Multi-State Collaborative Assessment liaison to other faculty. Steve traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, in February 2015 to train as a VALUE Rubrics scorer. Kathryn Klopfleisch, English faculty, and Barbara Curchack, psychology faculty, will also be trained as VALUE Rubrics scorers.
“I greatly enjoyed meeting faculty from other institutions,” Steve said. “We worked collectively by learning outcome, reading and scoring student work. We applied the appropriate rubrics, discussed scores and shared insights. Learning to score artifacts correctly was critically important since scoring is much different than grading. Grades are typically unreliable as college-wide learning outcomes assessment data because they usually incorporate external elements such as participation, attendance, extra credit, improvement and effort. However, projects, assignments and tests given for a grade may be used for college-wide learning outcomes assessment if evaluated by trained scorers using the appropriate rubric.”
Steve reported that Inver Hills faculty will continue to contribute student artifacts for scoring against the VALUE Rubrics for Written Communication, Critical Thinking, and Quantitative Literacy. In the future, artifacts will be scored against Intercultural Knowledge and Competence, Civic Engagement, and Ethical Reasoning as well.
About the Multi-State Collaborative
The Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment (MSC) is an initiative designed to provide meaningful evidence about how well students are achieving important learning outcomes. Sponsored by the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the initiative foregrounds a distinctly different form of assessment than the traditional standardized test.
Instead of producing reports about average scores on tests, the project is piloting the use of common rubrics applied by teams of faculty to students’ authentic college work—including such things as projects, papers, and research. The MSC is designed to produce valid data summarizing faculty judgments of students’ own work, and also seeks to aggregate results in a way that allows for benchmarking across institutions and states. The primary goal of the initiative is to provide data that will allow faculty and institution leaders to assess—and improve—the levels of student achievement on a set of cross-cutting outcomes important for all disciplines.
— Courtesy of SHEEO and the AAC&U
- Multi-State Collaboration Produces Valuable New Evidence About Writing, Critical Thinking, and Quantitative Literacy Skills of Undergraduate Students Using Rubric-Based Assessment of Students’ Authentic Work
- Current VALUE Project: Multi-State Collaborative and SHEEO
- MSC: A Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment
- VALUE Rubrics