Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Searching for an A+: Techniques for implementing a successful student learning outcomes process in California community colleges
by Dunsheath, Barbara, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2010, 231; 3425194
Abstract (Summary)

Demand for assessing student success and educational accountability in the United States is increasing. In 2002, California community colleges were required by the accreditation agency to develop a student learning outcomes (SLOs) process. A student learning outcomes process involves creating, assessing and evaluating student outcomes for every course, program and degree.

This case study researched a California community college's student learning outcomes process. Athena College was chosen because it created a successful SLOs process. This qualitative study relied on interviews of major stakeholders in the SLOs process, observations and document collection.

Characteristics that promoted a successful SLOs process include: institutional culture; leadership, especially that of the SLOs coordinator; communication; resources and support; planning that incorporates involvement of stakeholders and use of results and evaluation. Barriers identified included time, aversion to change, interference with academic freedom and lack of knowledge about the SLOs process. Most of the characteristics of Athena College's student learning outcomes process aligned with the literature review.

Data from this qualitative study illustrates a student learning outcomes process that meets the highest standards of the regional accreditation agency while maintaining an institutional focus on improving the teaching/learning process and promoting student success. Athena College demonstrates that a California community college can implement a successful SLOs process and that the SLOs process has altered instructional practices. Faculty at Athena College use the SLOs process to improve teaching/learning practices. Athena College has infused its SLOs process into its culture aligning it with existing practices such as curriculum, program review and continuous improvement.

Accreditation and its accountability standards may have generated the initial incentive for SLOs at Athena, yet the SLOs process developed because Athena's culture embraced the concept and recognized its potential good. Athena's example should encourage other California community colleges to embrace SLOs, not because an accreditation agency demands it, but because the process works.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Vega, William M.
Commitee:
School: California State University, Long Beach
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 71/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Community college education, Educational tests & measurements, Educational leadership, Higher education
Keywords: Accountability, California, Student learning outcomes
Publication Number: 3425194
ISBN: 9781124259635
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