Agents of Change: Examining The Role of Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment Coordinators in California Community Colleges

Fall
2007
Topic: 
Accreditation

Formally stating and assessing student learning outcomes (SLOs) is a new focus for California community colleges required by the 2002 Accreditation Standards. This paper, the first in a series, explores one aspect of this sea change across the state: the emergence of a new group of faculty leaders, Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment Coordinators. Responsible for guiding the SLO development and assessment efforts at their colleges, these faculty are charged with designing and implementing assessment processes for instruction, the library, and student services. In addition, they provide training for whatever assessment model the college adopts and they must organize and report assessment data for accreditation. As assessment leaders, they must balance the often differing concerns of faculty and administrators as well as deal with any college resistance. Student Learning Outcomes Coordinators act as agents of change on their campuses; not change for the sake of change, but change anchored in campus culture and targeting improved learning. Unfortunately, many are working without clear job descriptions or have not received training for this position. Some SLO Coordinators shoulder this burden without any reassigned time on top of a full teaching load. Until now, there have been few opportunities for SLO Coordinators to network together and exchange ideas; they have been undertaking their task in isolation. This paper, detailing research conducted by the Academic Senate's Ad Hoc Accreditation and Student Learning Outcomes Committee, explores the current status of California's SLO Coordinators and makes several recommendations to address the challenges they face.