2. Modifying the Assessment Process
The Assessment Committee is like the blind man who deduces that elephants are shaped like ropes after feeling just the tail. Each semester the assessment process generates reports on a near-random selection of entries in the Outcomes/Courses matrix and the Committee is supposed to determine if the Department is meeting its objectives or not. In addition, the Committee is asked to compare the elephant to the hippo whose tail it felt two years earlier, and is asked: which animal is better?
As a case in point, consider Araya's report on SLO10B. He says that 50% of his students achieved the desired level of competency (25% partially achieved it.) In Spring 07, the last time this outcome was assessed in CS149, Teng Moh reported that 75% of his students achieved the desired level of competency (19% partially achieved it.)
How does one interpret this huge drop and is it a cause for alarm? According to the matrix, this outcome is supported by six courses. We only have current data on one. So is the elephant like a rope or a tree? Moreover, Araya measured this competency by asking students to come up with a mathematical equation modeling the effect of page faults on memory access time (which sounds sort of advanced). We don't know how T. Moh tested this competency, so which is better: elephants or hippos?
It's the same story in all of the other regularly scheduled reports the Committee received.