Faculty question new tracking of learning outcomes

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Dr. David Wood, dean of performance excellence, explains eLumen to the Faculty Senate March 5. Photo by Belinda Hernandez

Dr. David Wood, dean of performance excellence, explains eLumen to the Faculty Senate March 5. Photo by Belinda Hernandez

Training for eLumen system begins this semester.

Correction: Plans to report students’ scores on eight competencies on transcripts were not correct. Officials do not plan to include mastery of competencies on transcripts.

By Cassandra M. Rodriguez

crodriguez719@student.alamo.edu

Dr. David Wood, dean of performance excellence, answered questions about tracking student learning outcomes from this college’s Faculty Senate March 5.

“ELumen was built with the idea of measuring college-level learning outcomes,” Wood said. “ELumen is an SLO tracking system that will replace the Excel matrices faculty use.”

He said learning outcomes measure students’ knowledge, skills and abilities and provide a comprehensive measure of what students learn in a course.

Faculty interested in using eLumen to track SLOs can start in the fall semester. ELumen was piloted with a group of about eight faculty members at the end of last semester at this college.

“It’s going to be more straightforward to use,” Wood said.

He said it will provide a better opportunity to manage data and produce more comprehensive reports. Course information should “roll over” to the next semester, he said. Representatives from eLumen will show faculty how to enter their outcomes and align assignments and exam questions.

He hopes eLumen is available to train faculty in March, but it might occur in April because, “eLumen is finalizing the training specifics that we need,” Wood said.

Wood said eLumen won’t be mandatory for fall, but he wants eLumen for some faculty members so they can help others in the fall.

“The district has been pushing to have a standard set of learning outcomes for all courses in the district,” Wood said. It will include identified state and district learning outcomes. The learning outcomes are found in syllabuses for each course.

“What is the purpose of this for the student?” math Professor Gerald Busald asked.

Students can track their progress throughout a course, Wood said.

One of the accreditation requirements from Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges requires the college to track students longitudinally, he said.

The college has eight competencies as part of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board core objectives. Learning outcomes are written around the competencies, Woods said.

Students should be able to perform the eight competencies upon graduation. The competencies are critical thinking skills, communication skills, empirical and quantitative skills, teamwork, social responsibility, personal responsibility, leadership and performance.

A score of these competencies will be on students’ transcripts. It will show the level to which they attained those competencies, he said.

“Somebody had this philosophy that all students had the ability to learn the same amount of things,” history Professor Mike Settles asked. “It just takes some longer to learn than others. So is this going to be better?”

“How is this feedback to faculty going to make me a better teacher?” asked Lisa Black, Faculty Senate secretary and a student development professor.

“If they are doing really well teaching a certain topic one way, then maybe they want to see what it is they are doing to teach that topic that might help teach another topic students aren’t getting as well,” he said.

He said the benefit to faculty is they can troubleshoot teaching methods during their courses without having to totally revamp the course to help improve student learning and outcomes in those weaker areas.

“If a faculty member is actively looking at those parts of a course that are toughest and trying to find better ways to teach it, theoretically, a student will have an easier time learning and be more successful as a result,” Woods said.

The Faculty Senate’s next meeting is 3 p.m. April 2 in Room 120 of the visual arts center.

For more information about eLumen training, call Wood at 210-486-0063.

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