NOVA’s Focus on Student Learning Outcomes
March 31, 2009
As a part of the College’s preparation for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Commission on Colleges (COC) of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), NOVA is focusing on student learning outcomes (SLOs).
SLOs are the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that students gain from a learning experience. Such outcomes are at the heart of SACS’ focus on institutional effectiveness. By identifying SLOs, academic programs make explicit what students completing a program should know, be able to do and value.
Defining SLOs is the first step in measuring if students are meeting program expectations and in determining how and where student learning can be improved. By defining, assessing and utilizing the results from measuring student performance on SLOs, NOVA is able to take the necessary steps to meet the various accrediting standards and requirements SACS has laid out in its handbook “Principles of Accreditation.”
Under Vice President George Gabriel’s leadership, the Office of Institutional Research (OIR), Planning and Assessment is collaborating with academic programs in order to ensure that these critical activities – identification, assessment and utilization – are accomplished and documented. All degree-awarding programs and select career certificates have designated a faculty member to be the SLO lead faculty.
The lead faculty will oversee the SLOs and assessment practices for a given program. Because it is essential that the assessment of SLOs is a faculty-driven process, it is important that all faculty within a program and across the Campuses are involved. To further assist faculty, OIR has organized a series of workshops on SLOs and assessment.
Jennifer Roberts, the coordinator for academic assessment, is currently meeting with faculty at each campus to provide an overview of SLOs and the assessment process. In April, workshop sessions will be devoted to the writing and mapping of SLOs. While SLO lead faculty have been the main audience for the first workshop, all faculty members are encouraged to take part in future workshops.
In addition to the April sessions, beginning this summer, OIR will offer workshops on other topics, such as classroom assessment techniques, developing assessment tools, rubrics and using results from assessment activities.
Reaffirmation of accreditation is a critical activity for the College. Success requires significant faculty participation in the process. As a result of college-wide efforts, NOVA should not only reaffirm compliance with SACS standards, but also significantly advance the quality of its educational programs.
If you have any questions about student learning outcomes and assessment, please contact Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America’s largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 60,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College’s Web site, www.nvcc.edu.