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At the end of the fall 2015 semester, Merritt College faculty met to discuss their assessment of the Communication Institutional Learning Outcome (ILO). Faculty brought samples of student work and scoring rubrics that allowed us to consider student achievement in the areas of written and oral communication.

The results and action plans are summarized below.


Communication ILO Assessment Meeting
December 14, 2015

Participants: Hilary Altman (communication), Nicole Buyagawan (anthroplogy), Heather Casale (nutrition), Lynsie Falco (English), David Goldwebber (english), Thomas Hart (English),  Arja McCray (biology), Sheila Metcalf-Tobin (art), Isela Gonzalez-Santana (english), Tom Renbarger (physics), Jason Seals (african american studies), Jennifer Yates (radiologic science), Mary Louise Zernicke (nutrition)

Present: Jennifer Shanoski (chemistry), Ann Elliott (english), Susan Andrien (english), Clifton Coleman (classified)

134 students were assessed

Rubric identified that the strengths were found in students’ abilities to understand the assignments given (84 excellents and 16 goods) and the weaknesses were in the mechanics of the work (57 excellents and 40 goods).

– Comprehensive coverage of the topic
– Students speak in a collegial, collaborative, professional way
– Basic delivery skills (volume, eye contact, enunciation, etc.)
– Ability of students to ask for help and accept feedback
– Organization (clear statements of main points and transitions)
– Writing with passion and purpose; expression of self in a comfortable space
– Applying learned concepts from class
– Creativity & imagination
– MLA format was generally followed
– Engagement with ideas of self and others in the world – students did a good job of learning through revision
– Synthesis of reading in an original way

Areas for Improvement:
– Confidence in public speaking (lack of practice)
– Use of powerpoint to supplement
– Overall organization – not in the most logical order
– Use of credible sources
– Use of advanced language
– Following instructions
– Basic writing skills (grammar, spelling, etc.)

General Discussion:
– We talked a lot about students feeling safe to share their work and advice. Faculty shared a variety of tools that they use including:
• Success teams – make students accountable to each other by ensuring that everyone in the team is successful
• Peer evaluation with rubrics
• Writing process checklists
• Building trust and community through pair-share and small group work
• Evaluation of outside work
• Mindset that proofreading is part of the writing process

Improvements that need to be made:
– Increase student confidence
– Sentence style, craft, and structure
– Analysis and proper citation of sources
– Vocabulary needs to be appropriate for the subject – it needs to be simplified but not eliminated

– college-wide rubric for written/oral communication to establish college-wide expectations
– set up a website for students with the rubric and general information on communication assessment
– online submission program that includes an area for editing (and providing comments)
• online tutoring could be provided so that there’s a dialogue between the writer and editor
• direction for students on what the rules are, who to ask, and what to focus on
– require students to read aloud – demonstrate how this works by reading a handout
– provide samples of writing to students
– communication lab – provide a space, tutors, computers so that students can practice interviewing and presenting
– contextualized learning – provide more opportunities to write in CTE classes
– provide opportunities to practice anxiety reducing techniques
– more low- to high-stakes in-class writing opportunities
– embed technical vocabulary throughout CTE curriculum