Course Assessment

Student Learning Assessment in Mathematics:
Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Meaningful Results

The math discipline at Oakland Community College is quite large, consisting of 29 full-time faculty teaching 20 courses, totaling approximately 200-230 course sections. Because of the volume of faculty, courses and students, assessment presents a unique challenge in that there are approximately 160 common course outcomes assessed over a two-year cycle.

The first challenge to course assessment of this volume was figuring out how to transform the near 30-50 course objectives into eight common course outcomes to target for assessment of student learning. The discipline accomplished this by breaking into groups, each group containing a representative from the four campuses on which math is taught. Over the course of six months, these groups were able to identify and eliminate objectives that were not taught across the college and distill the remaining objectives to eight essential common course outcomes (CCOs). The result of these activities were presented at a college-wide ‘Assessment Day’ event and confirmed by a discipline-wide vote.

Several key decisions helped facilitate the manageability of the assessment processes for the discipline:

  • All courses are assessed every Fall and Winter semester
  • Every CCO is assessed once every two years
  • Even number CCOs are assessed during even years, and odd number CCOs during odd years (e.g. outcomes #1 and #3 will be assessed in 2017, and outcomes #2 and #4 in 2018)
  • Each section is assessed every semester
  • All outcomes are assessed using a final exam with pre-determined, discipline-developed mathematic problems (8 problems per exam, each attached to a common course outcome).

Math has also developed a reporting system to make assessment easier and more accessible. Student Learning Coordinator and math faculty member, Dr. Tatiana Reynolds, creates a Google form for each class, and links are e-mailed to all teaching faculty prior to the final exam. Once the forms have been completed, Dr. Reynolds compiles the student assessment findings, and reports the findings using the college’s Assessment Results Tracking Information System (ARTIS).

Math faculty were actively participating in assessment processes, even before OCC developed a systematic and rigorous student learning assessment structure. In fact, several faculty members served as faculty assessment facilitators during the development of general education outcome rubrics. Even so, faculty members admit that when assessment of common course outcomes first began, they did not feel the information would yield anything insightful. However, as the process continues, faculty are learning important facts about how math is taught at the college and how students are learning. Information gleaned through the student learning assessment processes has identified when faculty were not teaching aspects of the common course outcomes, and showed that faculty have varying degrees of rigor in teaching and assessment. Several findings also revealed that there were certain outcomes where students consistently performed below expectation. These findings were the result of the comprehensive student learning process developed by the discipline, which ultimately led to improvements in curriculum, andragogy and, most importantly, learning for OCC students.


Closing the Loop- Course Assessment

Course Assessment