Assessing First-Year Seminars: Using Data To Make Curriculum Adjustments, Determine Training Needs & Improve Outcomes
Participants will be able to discuss the difference between “prove it” and “improve it” first-year seminar assessment data and the value and importance of each type of assessment. Specifically, participants will be able to develop a first-year seminar assessment plan that includes direct and indirect assessment methods that will guide curriculum development and improve student success.
The first-year seminar is arguably the most assessed course on campus. However, many assessment practices focus on “prove it” rather than “improve it” data. In other words, faculty are often under pressure to demonstrate that this course is necessary and does positively impact student success, but all of the time and energy focused on this type of assessment detracts from meaningful assessment aimed at determining how to improve the course. Since this course is taken by most, if not all, students at most colleges and universities across the nation, it is critical that “improve it” assessment processes take center stage in this conversation--this will lead to the best outcomes for students.
Assessment is an important activity for all courses and programs. There is ample research attesting to the value of the first-year seminar courses (see Harrington & Orosz, 2018 for a review of this data), but demonstrating institution specific value continues to be important. In addition to investigating the impact of first-year seminar courses on outcomes such as retention and grade point averages, it is also critical that course level learning outcomes are assessed via direct and indirect methods (i.e. Suskie, 2009; Walvoord, 2004). At this level of assessment, data can provide guidance about where improvements in course delivery of content are needed. In their review of the 2009 National Survey of First-Year Seminars, Padgett and Keup (2011) indicate that institutions are relying primarily on easily accessible data such as retention and satisfaction ratings rather than utilizing methods that address learning outcomes.
After providing an overview of national assessment data, this interactive webinar will focus on institutional specific assessment processes. Specifically, direct and indirect assessment approaches that can be used to determine if the learning outcomes of the first-year seminar have been achieved and that can also provide guidance as faculty modify or re-design the curriculum. In addition, assessment activities related to student service components such as advising or library sessions will also be discussed. The conversation will then focus on how assessment data can be used to make curriculum adjustments, determine professional development needs, and ultimately improve student success outcomes.
- Determine direct and indirect assessment methods connected to first-year seminar course learning outcomes
- Identify assessment strategies that can address the student services components of the first-year seminar course
- Discuss how assessment data can be used to make improvements to the first-year seminar course
- Enrollment Management
- Online Learning
- Student Services/Affairs
- First-Year Seminar Course Coordinators/First-Year Experience
- Directors/Assessment Coordinators
- Any educator interested in learning more about first-year seminars and assessment
There is a significant body of evidence that illustrates that the first-year seminar positively impacts student success outcomes such as persistence and graduation. It is time to turn our attention from “proving” the value of the course to “improving” the course. In other words, assessment efforts should be focused on how to maximize the positive impact on student success through redesigning curriculum and improving professional development for instructors teaching the course.
Dr. Christine Harrington is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at New Jersey City University. She worked at Middlesex County College for 18 years as a Professor of Psychology and Student Success, the Director of the Center for the Enrichment of Learning and Teaching, Coordinator of Student Success and a Counselor. She also served a 2-year term as the Executive Director of the Student Success Center at the NJ Council of Community Colleges. She is the author of Student Success in College: Doing What Works! 3rd edition, a research-based text for the first-year seminar course that aligns to Guided Pathways, published by Cengage Learning. She also co-authored with Todd Zakrajsek Dynamic Lecturing: Research-Based Strategies for Evidence-Based Practices, and Designing a Motivational Syllabus: Creating a Learning Path for Student Engagement with Melissa Thomas, both published by Stylus. She is also a contributing author of Foundations for Critical Thinking, published by the National Resource Center on the First Year Experience and Transitions. Most recently, she co-authored, with Theresa Orosz, Why the First-Year Seminar Matters: Helping Students Choose and Stay on a Career Path. Dr. Harrington is frequently invited to present at conferences and at colleges an universities.
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We take quality seriously, and so all of our workshops are top notch in terms of content and look. However, if we know how you plan to use StudentLingo (FYE, Retention, Probation, TRIO, etc.), we can make workshop recommendations.
Funding is a little tight, how many workshops can I get for $XX?
You can buy the entire StudentLingo package (50 workshops) or we offer several a la carte options. Unlike a lot of other software companies, we don’t charge per user, so we can work with any budget. We recommend talking to other departments on campus to increase your purchasing power and to share the cost. Also, we do have a pay model whereby students pay directly. If you are interested in learning more about this option, give us a call.
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This is a feature of our platform, but comes at an additional cost. With the admin view, you get access to more advanced reporting, and you have it in real time. With the standard membership, you get monthly reports.
How have other schools leveraged reporting?
- One of our partners, College of Southern Nevada, used StudentLingo to measure learning outcomes. in a study, one class had access to StudentLingo and the other cohort did not. 92% of the cohort with access to StudentLingo earned a whole letter grade higher than the cohort without StudentLingo.
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- I think a great way to get started on how you want to use the data is to ask yourself some questions:
- How will I know if StudentLingo was successful?
- What do I hope students will gain from access to StudentLingo?
- What data is important for me to know in order to show that StudentLingo is a worthwhile purchase?
What is TutorLingo?
TutorLingo is a series of 9 online training modules that prepare tutors by providing the basic skills necessary to support their peers in becoming more independent and strategic learners.
Should the TutorLingo trainings be viewed in any particular order?
No, each training is a stand-alone workshop, and they can be viewed in any order.
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The CRLA is a group of student-oriented professionals active in the fields of reading, learning assistance, developmental education, tutoring, and mentoring. In 1989, the CRLA created a training program that is considered ‘best-practice’ for tutor training. A fews years ago, Innovative Educators partnered with the CRLA to create supplementary training modules. Our training supports learning centers in achieving level 1 certification through CRLA.
Do CRLA members receive a discount on TutorLingo?
Yes. CRLA members receive a 10% discount on TutorLingo.
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Yes. The admin view is an upgrade and costs $500, but gives you the ability to access completion data more efficiently and in real time. If you don’t want the admin view, we provide monthly usage reports.
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ParentLingo is a go-to resource that institutions can easily share with parents to encourage student independence, growth & success. ParentLingo is a shared resource that recognizes and includes parents as partners in the educational process.
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