Institutional Learning Outcomes: The Four Cs

FRAMES Computation Project

Foothill's Rubric Assessment Model for Evaluating SLOs
The purpose of FRAMES is to improve student learning on campus. Using Foothill's four institutional student learning outcomes (SLOs), teams of faculty volunteered to design assessment rubrics to test student artifacts for evidence of Critical Thinking, Computation, Communication, and Community/Global Consciousness. The following narrative is about the development and implementation of the Computation assessment rubric.

FRAMES: Computation Phase I (completed)
Winter Quarter 2007: Faculty from Fine Arts, Chemistry, History, Economics, Math, and English started the process of building a computation rubric. After finding few available computation models for assessing student learning outcomes, the group decided to use course materials, course outlines, and college program planning documents to generate a list of criteria for assessing computation. The team noted that the actual process of reviewing course outlines and developing the sample rubric is productive and engages colleagues in interesting conversations about learning.

Spring Quarter 2007: The team brought together their rubrics and began the process of convergence and refining terms into one assessment rubric, however, the computation rubric was broken down into two different areas of assessment: Processing and Calculating. One debatable issue that stemmed from this dialogue is whether the purpose of this tool is to measure what the student can do, or to measure the correctness of an answer. The FRAMES Computation group is currently leaning towards the purpose of the tool being to measure what the student can demonstrate, not necessarily the accuracy or correctness of the final answer.

Several other things became more clear during this process. First, the scoring system that FRAMES Critical Thinking came up with will not necessarily work for FRAMES Computation. Secondly, when comparing an Economics assignment with an Art Drawing assignment, the clearly numerical Economics assignment only met 6 of the 15 assessment statements and the more abstract Art assignment met 11 of the 15 statements. The group felt that assignment may need to be assessed institutionally based on the criterion an instructor identifies as relevant and not on all 15 statements. Thirdly, the collection process to evaluate computation assignments institutionally needs to be well thought out. The collection process would include having instructors submit a description of their assignment; a clear checklist of the computation criterion met on the Computation Rubric; and an assignment answer key with labeled objectives.

FRAMES: Computation Phase II (completed)
Fall Quarter 2007: The FRAMES Computation group started the second phase of the implementation process by planning how to collect and assess student artifacts using the Computation rubric. Using similar parameters to those used by the Critical Thinking Team, the FRAMES Computation team will send a letter the second week of the Winter Quarter 2008 to the instructors of randomly selected students requesting they choose an assignment that requires computation and is due no later than the end of Winter Quarter 2008. The student artifacts will again come from students with no degree, and at least 60 quarter units acquired while at Foothill College.The Computation team added a component in the FRAMES Computation process that includes an instructor rating of the presence of computation, as well as the quality or accuracy of computation in the assignments. Because of the varying nature of how computation is measure by different disciplines, the instructors will also be asked to identify criteria from the draft rubric that they judge to be of value in assessing the computational skills of the assignment. The score will likely be out of those criteria chosen by the instructor.

In addition, the team felt that not all courses were appropriate for measuring computation. The program planning documents in 2002-03 and 2005-06 will be examined for adding a possible computation filter, in which programs and courses at Foothill College that rated the institutional computation outcome as being highly important for graduates of their programs may be selected first for the project.

Also of note, Hilary Ciment, Art Instructor, has made an excellent contribution to this project and the larger academic community by demonstrating the value of measuring computation in the Fine Arts Division, and sharing her findings with local and national colleagues.