The Journal of General Education 52.4 (2003) 266-282
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21ST Century Learning Outcomes Project
Bernita E. Crawford
Like many institutions of higher learning, Hocking College has struggled to define, document, and assess those general skills deemed necessary for success in the workplace and life. An opportunity for Hocking College to focus on this task was provided through its participation in the 21st Century Learning Outcomes Project sponsored by The League for Innovation in the Community College. This project complemented or extended other initiatives such as the Academic Affairs (AA) ReVISIONing Learning Project and the Self-Study for reaccreditation by The Higher Learning Commission (NCA), which included a Special Emphasis on college-wide ReVISIONing Learning.
Hocking College is a public technical college located in rural Southeastern Ohio. Enrollment for Fall Quarter 2002 was 5,250 students. Two hundred ninety-seven faculty members of whom 85% were designated as full-time employees serve the student population.
Identification of Learning Outcomes to be Assessed
Process for Identification of Learning Outcomes
Success Skills were developed in 1989 by a team of Hocking College faculty and administrators. The list of skills was subsequently ratified by faculty referendum and approved by the Board of Trustees. The Success Skills included: 1) Communicates Effectively; 2) Demonstrates Math Skills; 3) Demonstrates Learning and Critical Thinking Skills; 4) [End Page 266] Maintains Professional Skills and Attitudes; 5) Practices Human Relations Skills; 6) Demonstrates Knowledge of Science and the Environment; 7) Demonstrates Community, Cultural, and Global Awareness; and 8) Maintains a Code of Ethics.
Assessment of Success Skills
Although the list was published and widely circulated, the extent to which explicit instruction was infused in classes other than general education classes remained very limited. It was desired that acquisition of those skills would occur throughout the curriculum and students were expected to understand and practice them. However, specific checkpoints and assessment of student acquisition of those skills occurred somewhat sporadically within each program and campus-wide efforts were not coordinated.
By fall of 1999, Hocking College was working on two major projects: AA ReVISIONing Learning and the NCA self-study which included a special emphasis project. One specific objective of the AA ReVISIONing Learning Project was the full integration of Success Skills across all programs, and the competencies were reviewed and updated in 1999 in light of literature on employer expectations for employees. Both faculty and the Board of Trustees approved the revised document.
The following year, The League for Innovation invited Hocking College to participate in the League's 21st Century Learning Outcomes Project. The goal of the 21st Century Learning Outcomes Project was to increase the capacity of community colleges to define and document the acquisition of critical competencies that learners need to succeed in the workplace, in transfer education, and in today's society (Wilson, Miles, Baker, & Schoenberger, 2000). Hocking's plan for this project included teaching, assessing, and documenting the Success Skills across the curriculum.
The 21st Century Learning Outcomes Team (now known as the Success Skills Learning Community) has provided leadership and guidance for campus-wide integration of Success Skills into [End Page 267] technical and general curricula. The project goal is to document each individual student's level of mastery for each skill. Team members include the Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs; Vice President and Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences; Assistant Vice President of Computer Services; Director of Faculty Development, Curriculum, and Academic Research; Associate Deans from the School of Natural Resources and the School of Health and Nursing; Assessment Coordinator; Director of Co-Curricular Activities; Director of Resident Life and Housing; Professors from Nursing, Social Sciences, and Communications; an Associate Professor from Computer Programming, and Instructors from Hotel/Restaurant and Computer Programming. All team members have an active role. Currently the Provost and Vice President/Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences serve as co-chairs of the group.
Overview of Assessment Process and Method
Technology/Program Assessment Process
Expectations for integration of the Success Skills and their assessment needed...