Sunday, October 20, 2013

New President Interview -- Part 23 Living Bridges –Part 3

What are the roles of experience and assessment?

Q: What is the role of experience in a theory of education? What is experience?

A: Since all knowledge comes from experience, education is the understanding of the results of experience. History is experience of a group or community;
scientific experiments create a controlled experience. Learning to interpret experience is the business of education. Misunderstanding the experience has a negative effect on education and knowledge. As educators any experience that is mis-education has the effect of distorting growth and skewing future experience. An experience may engender positive or negative responses. A rich experience has the possibility to put a person in a positive groove or a deep negative rut.[fn 1

The learning experience needs to be engaging and develop the power of judgment and intellect. Enhancing the classroom experience to encourage understanding of previous human experience is the goal of the College. Improving the kinds of experience the student have in the College is part of assessment and continuous improvement.

Q: What is the role of assessment in advancing the student experience? How do you define progressive education?

A: In the progressive education model, the central concept of learning focuses on student learning experience rather than the teacher’s expertise.

Learning outcomes as a result of the class experience need to be assessed and measured from the beginning of the course through its completion. The student learning outcomes (SLOs) include what the student knows (facts, figures, etc.),
skills developed, what they are able to do with the facts and skills, and how their attitudes or psyche have changed to enable life-long learning. Assessment is not a new concept. The earliest article below is from 1972. The John Dewey first talked about progressive education in the 1930’s.

With that said, the word “assessment” is a poor use for the concept we want to describe. When I hear the word, I associate it with monetary assessments such as for taxes, dues, condo fees, or fines. “Assessment” as used in education has nothing to do with financial issues. Perhaps we should use the term, “continuous evaluation” or a fuller term, “student learning assessment?”

In a document published by the Higher Learning Commission, “Student learning, assessment, and accreditation,” [fn 2] they state that they “realize assessment of student learning is an ongoing, dynamic process that requires substantial time; that is often marked by fits and starts; and that takes long-term commitment and leadership.”

Since the assessment process measures learner performance, it is student-oriented rather than institution-centered.

Q: How does the student learning assessment process work in non-classroom learning situation for example the college library?

A: Assessment measures changes in the behavior of library users as a result of their contact with the library's programs, resources and services. Any measurement measures student knowledge before known contact and what skills, abilities, attitudes, knowledge and values were changed. This measurement is difficult. In a classroom based class there is always the “nothing” before the “something” during the learning process. Learning a spiral starting on a solid base and ending is a peak that can serve as the base for further learning. Learning activities in the library or in extra-curricular activities are hard to evaluate because there is no clear moment of “nothingness.” Working on a committee or participating in an event have educational and social rewards, but the learning outcomes are hard to measure when compared with the classroom learning. The assessment process searches for measurable statements concerning what students will know/think and be able to perform as a result of their contact with library programs. Statements about what the library should/ could do to bring about desired outcomes are not part of student learning outcomes.

The assessment of outcomes measures the library contributions to the college’s educational mission as a whole. The assessment of student learning outcomes is designed to improve library services through a feedback loop that includes systems planning, instruction and individual staff/ faculty behavior. The improvement process is intended to identify areas for the library to improve the system, methodologies, and behavior as the means to affect learning changes in the individual.

Q: How does one figure out outcomes for the library programs?

A: The assessment process begins with an analysis of the College's mission, goals, and objectives. Then one identifies of the elements that the library program and mission supports with the purpose of understanding the effectiveness the library programs as a part of the mission of the College.
Assessment does not need to demonstrate the academic rigor of a research project, but must be easily administered and yield quality results.

Q: It sounds as if the process of evaluating the library programs and other non-classroom based learning a vital part of the academic program. Have these issued been discussed in the past?

A: Unfortunately my predecessors never made the connections between classroom learning and non-classroom learning. The culture never developed the attitude among non-faculty that they are part of student success. It is a long struggle to teach business and administrative people of their role in the education process. Sometime it is not the learning that students struggle with, but all the craziness that goes on out the classroom. Making changes in time-ingrained processes and way of perform takes a lot of effort. We are working hard to rid the College of self-defeating practices. The change process included both changes in administrative rules and trying to change the way people think about the whole educational process. Only through constant reminders can we change the way we behave and work toward a common set of goals.

Q: You have left me with a lot the think about. Thank you very much.


[1] From Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning.  Levels of learning range from low (superficial learning) to high (deep learning). The taxonomy  describes the lower levels of educational objectives beginning on the bottom and the higher levels toward the top. The pyramid s a list of verbs from   for use when creating student learning outcome statements.    From a Pepperdine University web site, “Writing SLOs, “

[2] “Student learning, assessment, and accreditation” Chicago, Higher Learning Commission, 2007.  Retrieved on Oct. 18, 2013 from the HLC web site:

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