Aims Community College

Culture Shift: Assessment for Continuous Improvement


Institutional  Profile

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Aims Community College is a public, fully accredited, two-year college with multiple campuses in Northern Colorado. The 175-acre main campus has been centered in Greeley for over 45 years with satellite campuses in Ft. Lupton, Loveland and Windsor. Aims has 160 degree and certificate programs and over 4,000 daytime, evening, weekend and on-line courses offerings each year, and courses are designed to transfer to a four-year University or to certify students to step right into specific jobs. Aims Community College’s mission is to help students achieve their learning goals and objectives through effective and efficient program options and services and to develop partnerships that support economic development and global understanding. Aims is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and holds specialized accreditation with multiple career and technical agencies including the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) Clinical & Professional Performance Standards (revision update 6/6/13), American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) Code of Ethics (revision update 9/1/13), and affiliation with National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). The following programs have at least one faculty member or a small team of faulty using LiveText’s assessment and accreditation management system as part of their assessment approaches: English, Math, Accounting, Anthropology, Political Science, Automotive, Radiology Technology, Emergency Medical Service, Graphic Media, and Intensive English Program. The campus assessment team is currently working on institutional-level Student Learning Outcomes which will allow for college-wide use in the future.


Key Challenges

The most significant problem the assessment team at Aims faced was the need to shift the culture. It has been challenging to engage faculty in assessment and to demonstrate it as a means to empower learners – not as an add-on to current duties. It has been particularly difficult to get faculty to evaluate their own students’ work because they are fearful assessment results may be used against them – which is not the case. Aims is working diligently to create a culture of assessment across the campus where assessment is seen as the means to continuous improvement.


Solution

Aims was assigned a LiveText assessment and technology Implementation Coordinator who consulted with institutional administrators prior to the start of the term. Through this ongoing consultation, LiveText helped Aims create 6-8 rubrics prior to the start of fall 2013 term. These rubrics were shared with the administrator account and provided for use. Additional rubrics were built by the Director of Academic Assessment and shared with the appropriate faculty for use in assessment activities. Faculty members have also started to build and share rubrics as part of their course and program assessment efforts. This is allowing Aims to begin using the assessment reports and collecting the data needed to evaluate student growth within these courses. The LiveText Implementation Coordinator also worked closely with Aims’ IT department to automate the process of loading courses and to correct technical issues which has allowed further efficiencies in their assessment processes. Prior to choosing LiveText, Aims evaluated six different programs. According to the institution, their research showed that these other options lacked the capability to integrate easily with their Student Information System (Banner). Having courses, student data, and class rosters loaded as well as easy-to-use scoring tools for faculty were key sticking points. The system’s integration allows the collected data to be comprehensive, and the reporting tools make the data easy to consume and share. So while the immediate impact was not quantitative, future impacts could be.

“If we had not taken action to implement an assessment technology, our assessment efforts at the college would have been severely stunted. With more pressure coming from the Higher Learning Commission to expand and develop assessment processes to improve student learning, we could not stay with our status quo, noted Dr. Shelly Ray Parsons, Director of Academic Assessment.”

“LiveText has allowed the institution to dig deeper into what we are teaching students and examining how well they are learning what we teach. Even though this is currently happening on a small scale, those who are using LiveText are uncovering powerful information to improve what they do in the classroom.”

“LiveText is an assessment technology tool that is easy to use. Building rubrics, creating assignments, and viewing the reports are all simple tasks. If the rubrics are well designed and connected to intended learning outcomes, the reporting tools give faculty members powerful and useful information to improve student learning.”

Dr. Shelly Ray Parsons
Director of Academic Assessment
Aims Community College