Stony Brook University – Outcomes Assessment Story

Setting the Stage

ePortfolios for outcome assessment are being piloted in the Honors College of Business, Technology and Society/Technology Management Systems, Undergraduate Colleges Leadership and Service and Information Systems, Biomedical Engineering Senior Design, Dance and Somatic Learning, Long Island Alternative Energy Consortium’s ESTeP minor, Engineering Internships, Electrical Engineering Online, and Writing and Rhetoric programs.   Faculty, with the support of the ePortfolio Program Manager, Assessment Specialist, and the ePortfolio and Media Consultants, will use the assessment feature of Digication to document and report on student performance and learning outcomes.

Course and program rubrics, which include modified Value rubrics, are used with the learning activities for self-assessment and peer review, and for assessing completed assignments, projects, and experiential activities. The students are involved in the assessment process.  Program standards and learning objectives/outcomes are included in the design of the rubrics and are represented in the artifacts and reflections posted in the eportfolios.  Standards from professional accreditation organizations, such as ABET, also are included in the learning and assessment design.

Undergraduate Colleges will continue to build on eportfolios for integrative learning and outcome assessment. SUNY-wide use of eportfolios for outcome assessment of general education courses assessment was one of the recommendations put forth by the Chancellor’s ePortfolio Task Group.  Stony Brook actively participated in this group.

Assessment at Stony Brook, slowly, is becoming a model example of Robert Barr’s and John Tagg’s Learning Paradigm. Undergraduate learning, traditionally, has been assessed through scored testing and constricted essays. Instructor-based assessment monitors and grades learning. However, learner-based, formative, outcomes assessment is part of the learning process and involves students in the assessment.  The assessment is used to promote rather than monitor learning and doesn’t have to be assigned a grade.  Examples of Learning Paradigm strategies, including eportfolio use for outcomes assessment, are starting to appear in various courses and programs on campus.  With our Middle States Accreditation fast approaching, outcomes assessment included in the learning process is being discussed in the related accreditation committees. Dr. Charles Robbins, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of the Undergraduate Colleges, heads the Middle States preparation efforts and promotes learner-centered, formative, outcomes assessment. He supports eportfolio use on campus.  Our new CIO, Cole Camplese, also is supportive of educational technologies that learner-based, outcomes assessment design.  He, continually, reviews and pilots emerging technologies that would further enhance student performance and successful learning outcomes with his TLT (Teaching, Learning, and Technology) and DoIt (Department of Instructional Technology) teams.   He understands and supports the eportfolio learning and assessment process.

Does our campus culture value outcomes assessment as a learning process? We have our bright spots, which value outcomes assessment as part of learning, scattered throughout the institution.  Some are mentioned above.  Again, our Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education promotes it.  There’s a slow, but steady shift from the Instruction Paradigm to the Learning Paradigm taking place at Stony Brook. The eportfolio process has played an important part in this paradigm shift.  See Stony Brook’s Learning Paradigm Work Chart (http://tinyurl.com/SBU-BarrTagg).

Developmental Story

Stony Brook University first piloted eportfolio use in the Fall 2010 Semester with 33 faculty, 400 students in 40 courses and 3 programs. When forming our ePortfolio Pilot Team, we looked for our campus “Bright Spots” which aligned their teaching and learning strategies with Barr’s and Tagg’s (B & T) Learning Paradigm and practiced formative and outcomes assessment in their courses and programs.  See the B & T Learning Paradigm Work Chart at http://tinyurl.com/SBU-BarrTagg.

Our participation in Making Connections (MC) and Connect to Learning (C2L) was key to our successful implementation of eportfolios.  Through the instruction and guidance of the MC and C2L leaders and cohort members, eportfolio use at Stony Brook has grown to over 250 faculty, 13,000 students in 265 courses, and 30 programs using eportfolios by the end of the 2014 Fall Semester.

Again, as we gathered together our ePortfolio Team pilots, we looked at the faculty and programs that practiced teaching and learning strategies listed in B & T Learning Paradigm Work Chart (http://tinyurl.com/SBU-BarrTagg):

  • Focus on producing learning.
  • Inquiry-Based Learning – Elicit student discovery and construction of knowledge.
  • Improve the quality of learning.
  • Achievement of learning success for a diverse student population.
  • The development of learning technologies and learning environments.

Developing strategies and practices for improving the quality of student learning, aggregate learning growth and successful learned outcomes.

  • Learning environments and learning are cooperative, collaborative and supportive and promote the talents and abilities of the students.
  • Faculty, students and staff work in teams.
  • All staff are educators who produce student learning and success.

The B & T Work Chart demonstrates course design that incorporates inquiry, reflection, and integrative learning strategies. Inquiry and evidence-based reflection skills are expected of Stony Brook students. The Barr & Tagg Work Chart helps the faculty to self-assess their course design and include integrative learning strategies.  It also helps the instructional designer guide them through the design process.  Using the eportfolios with modified Value rubrics for self-assessment and peer review gives faculty and students comprehendible visuals of the learning process and the desired outcomes.

For eportfolio use to succeed and become a part of the Stony Brook Learning Community, students must be actively involved in the assessment process. It is vital that our faculty eportfolio pilots produce cooperative, collaborative and supportive learning environments for students; and, that they work in collaborative teams with other faculty and staff.  When forming our original ePortfolio Pilot Team, the incorporation of student-centered, integrative learning and assessment strategies in their courses and programs was a key factor.

We learned from our post analysis of our ePortfolio Pilot Year (2010-11) and from student and faculty focus groups and surveys that support was critical to eportfolios becoming a part of the learning and assessment culture at Stony Brook. Undergraduate teaching assistants and model eportfolio student owners from the pilot programs were hired as ePortfolio and Media Consultants to assist Stony Brook’s Faculty Center staff with support for eportfolios, rubric development, inquiry and evidence-based reflection and peer assessment. Today, the ePortfolio Program Manager, Assessment Specialist, ePortfolio and Media Consultants partner as a team with the faculty and students on eportfolio use and formative, outcome assessment strategies. The Consultants introduce the use of the Value Rubrics for self-assessment, peer feedback, and review to students. Again, through student focus groups and surveys, we’ve learned that the Value rubrics help increase the understanding and worth of eportfolios and integrative learning for students. Though modified and used by the faculty in their courses, the use of Value rubrics are student-driven at Stony Brook. The ePortfolio and Media Consultants use them in their classroom presentations and individual consultation sessions.

Stony Brook’s Writing and Rhetoric Program (WRT) was prime to lead and set the model for eportfolio use in our 2010-11 ePortfolio Pilot Year. Dr. Peter Elbow, University of Massachusetts Professor of English, Author, and former Director of English and the WRT Program at Stony Brook University, introduced the practice of formative and outcomes assessment through the portfolio process at Stony Brook. Adding the “e” to Elbow’s process seemed natural for WRT and Dr. Cynthia Davidson, Emerging Technologies Coordinator and Sr. WRT Lecturer, took the lead with transitioning the program from the use of paper portfolios to the use of Google Docs, rubrics and eportfolios for peer-to-peer student learning and formative, outcomes  assessment. The WRT ePortfolio Pilot Team, Cynthia Davidson, Carolyn Sofia, and Cathleen Rowley, encouraged students to add their other courses and co-curricular activities to their writing eportfolios. By Fall Semester 2012, Dr. Eugene Hammond, Director of English and Writing required eportfolio use in all WRT 102 (Intermediate Composition) courses. This about a huge growth spike in the creation and use of eportfolios at Stony Brook. Now, nearly all SBU freshman will create an eportfolio, as required in the WRT 102 courses, and continue to use the eportfolio in their courses and co-curricular activities.

Margot Palermo, Director of the Honors Business Program, teamed with Nancy Wozniak, Learning Architect and ePortfolio Program Manager to develop a program assessment model for eportfolio use to enhance student learning and self-efficacy. The eportfolios also document evidence of the Program’s required skills and acquired abilities necessary for graduation. EMMA, the ePortfolio and Multimodal Media Assessment Model incorporates the use of eportfolios for admission into the program and to demonstrate outcomes provided by the collection of artifacts and evidence-based reflections from the required business courses and experiential activities. Students are encourage to include their other courses, service, internship, and co-curricular activities in their eportfolios and build towards a final career eportfolio. Rubrics have been created for eportfolio development and documenting evidence of the Program’s required skills and learning outcomes.

NanoTechnology and Materials Engineering Sciences, Long Island Alternative Energy Consortium’s ESTeP minor, Electrical Engineering Online, Technology and Society/Technology Management Systems, Dance and Somatic Learning, and the Undergraduate Colleges Leadership and Service Program have begun piloting the programmatic use of eportfolios for learning and outcomes assessment. They will expand in the 2013-14 Academic Year.  The ePortfolio and Media Consultants have been assigned to support these programs.

Internships with the use of eportfolios and rubrics successfully were pilot in Fall Semester 2012.  Outcomes assessment through eportfolio use The Engineering, Technology and Society and Honors Business College will use eportfolios and rubrics with their Internships in the Spring 2013 Semester. Employers are involved in the eportfolio process. An Industry Advisory Board (IAB) has been formed to review the internship experiences and eportfolios. Focus groups with our Business and Industry partnerships are essential. Students present their internship eportfolios at IAB luncheons and the board members comment and advise on the internship experiences, eportfolio designs, and presentations.  A recent survey conducted by the AACU showed that employers not only encourage students to create and use eportfolio, but they want to partner with colleges and universities to provide students with hands-on professional experience and guidance to ensure graduating students make a successful transition into the professional workforce.  See a summary of the AACU’s survey and report, It Takes More than a Major:  Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success, at http://www.aacu.org/leap/presidentstrust/compact/2013SurveySummary.cfm and view the ensuing program at http://www.aacu.org/leap/presidentstrust/compact/documents/compact_sampler.pdf Stony Brook’s Industry Advisory Board is working example of  how employers can contribute, successfully, to a robust outcome assessment design for a program.

 

With Stony Brook University fast approaching a Middle States accreditation review, discussions on outcomes assessment practices rose to the forefront in Stony Brook programs. Many of the college and program representatives attended Middle States conferences and saw presentations on eportfolio use to facilitate formative and outcomes assessment. This realization is a true shift in the Paradigm of Education at Stony Brook. It has caused unrest and confusion with many of the faculty. In our faculty focus groups on eportfolio perception we found that they viewed eportfolios as a professional Facebook and social networking didn’t apply to their discipline and teaching. Our focus groups ignite the inquiry and reflection process with eportfolio process and outcomes assessment. The use of the Learning Paradigm Work Chart stimulates faculty to think about their teaching practices and learning activities in their courses. The organization of the chart with comparisons is easily understood and sparks self-assessment of personal teaching goals and philosophies. When reviewed with an instructional designer, the chart helps to break down the misconceptions of eportfolio use and paves a path of understanding of how the eportfolio process facilitates formative and outcomes assessment. Again, support is vital and faculty, reluctantly willing to change, will dip their toe into the eportfolio waters for learning and outcomes assessment as long as they receive support and assistance with the eportfolio template design and student training.  Stony Brook’s ePortfolio Program Manager, Assessment Specialist and ePortfolio and Media Consultants partner with the faculty and teaching assistants on their course and assessment design using eportfolios.

When presenting eportfolios for outcomes assessment to faculty and departments, it’s important to present the benefits, the “what’s in it for me” factor. The keywords are organize and simplify.

 

 

ePortfolio is an outcomes assessment strategy that

  1. easily creates an organized, contained work space for interaction between students, faculty, programs, instructional and career support staff, and outside industry experts.
  2. provides a space to contain, organize, and view all outcomes pieces (test scores, student projects and reviews, student reflections, compositions and essays, survey results, and grades).
  3. involves the student in the individual assessment process since the student owns the eportfolio.
  4. makes it easier to document how students apply their learned skills and abilities after graduation.
  5. assists in the promotion of an outcomes assessment community by integrating various programs, faculty, students, instructional and career support staff, administration, and outside industry experts in the process and stimulating exchange, inquiry and reflection.
  6. helps design and raise learning experiences to new levels of inquiry and discovery.

Next Steps

Outcomes Assessment will be promoted by Vice Provost, Dr. Charles Robbins through departmental and program planning. The Middle States Review Committee will head this initiative. ePortfolio use will be recognized, formally, as a means for outcomes assessment.  CIO, Cole Camplese will continue to support eportfolios and outcomes assessment with innovative instructional technology tools.

The Faculty Center hosts an annual Assessment Conference with nationally recognized assessment experts as keynotes. Stony Brook faculty also take part in events sponsored by the SUNY Council on Assessment – http://www.sunyassess.org/index.html.

Faculty, successfully using eportfolios for student learning and outcomes assessment, have formed an eportfolio community of interest. The programs using the eportfolio process for outcomes assessment seem to understand the concepts and purpose of assessment. That’s the strength of eportfolio use. It’s formative and contains and organizes student work and reflection. It simplifies outcomes assessment for faculty, students, course, and program. ePortfolios spark inquiry and reflection. ePortfolio use for formative, outcomes assessment involves a collaborative team of faculty, students, instructional support staff, administration, and industry experts in the learning and assessment processes. Assessment isn’t a stretched four-lettered word on campus. Learning and formative assessment come naturally. We believe that’s because the faculty and students partner in the assessment process. The students better understand the purpose of outcomes assessment through the use of eportfolios and self-assessment with the Value rubrics. Again, the self-assessment of the eportfolios are promoted and guided by the ePortfolio and Media Consultants.

We believe that eportfolios help the faculty who use them to better understand that assessment is part of the learning process and benefits the student. The eportfolio is a digital visual of outcomes assessment. It’s all about the student and learning. It would be interesting to see if there is a correlation to faculty perception of assessment and eportfolio use. We will do a study the correlation between eportfolio use and improved GPA. These studies would involve the Faculty Center Staff, the Faculty ePortfolio COP and the Student ePortfolio Consultants. Studies already are being conducted on student perception on the value and benefits of eportfolios.

What’s next?

  • EMMA will be piloted in the Honors College of Business and more of the Engineering Programs by Fall Semester 2013. EMMA (ePortfolio and Multimodal Media Assessment) joins faculty, students, teaching assistants, instructional support staff , administration, and industry experts in the formative, outcomes assessment process. The model facilitates authentic, integrative, outcomes assessment. Again, the Value rubrics are used for self-assessment and peer review purposes.
  • The Long Island Alternative Energy minor (a collaboration between 7 SUNY colleges and universities), ESTeP, minor will require programmatic use of eportfolios for learning and outcomes assessment. This means the eportfolio requirement will be listed in the catalog descriptions of the 7 SUNY colleges and universities, including Stony Brook. It also means that eportfolios are emerging as an important part of Stony Brook’s and SUNY’s learning and assessment culture.
  • Increased professional development events with the SBU ePortfolio Pilot Team leading the sessions. Outcomes Assessment WILL be the norm at Stony Brook and ePortfolios will play a strong role in this.
  • A professional development workshop on eportfolios for developing inquiry and evidence-based reflection will be piloted in the spring with various departments and programs. Nancy Wozniak will include the Barr & Tagg Work Chart and concept mapping as part of the group interaction.
  • The ePortfolio Student Showcase will continue to be held during Stony Brook’s Annual Teaching and Learning Colloquium.  A session on ePortfolios for Outcomes Assessment will be held before the ePortfolio Showcase.
  • Digication, Google Docs for Learning, and SB You (our campus Edublog system) will work together to provide faculty, students, and staff a complete eportfolio package.
  • Nancy Wozniak and the ePortfolio and Media Consultants will be very busy.
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