PAC’s Institutional Learning Outcomes benefit students

By Jocelyn Gutierrez
Pulse Staff Reporter

Palo Alto College Institutional Learning outcomes and its objectives as well as real-world examples.

To help students prepare for future success in work and life, the Office of Academic Assessment at Palo Alto college developed six institutional learning outcomes.

Communication, critical thinking, empirical and quantitative skills, personal responsibility, social responsibility and teamwork are the six institutional outcomes Palo Alto developed to prepare students for success in work and life. When it comes to these institutional outcomes, students are expected to know what they are and how to execute them by the time they graduate from Palo Alto College.

“I think I’m good at personal responsibility. Something I could use more work on is social responsibility since I tend to focus more on myself rather than the collective good,” said Celeste Moya, a Pre-Med/Biology sophomore.

“I know that I excel in empirical and quantitative skills, but when it comes to communication I could use some work,” said Christopher Bueno, Math sophomore.

Each student had a different understanding of each outcome, but by the time they graduate college, they will be expected to know all six. To get an accurate reading of whether Palo Alto students mastered these outcomes by the time they graduate, Julie McDevitt, coordinator of Measurement and Evaluation for PAC, assesses students’ work.

Professors give students work each year that pertains to two of the six outcomes. When completed, the work from those students who are closest to graduating is returned and given to other faculty members, who use a rubric where the work is given a score from four (highly competent) to one (not competent).

During the Fall 2016 semester, the goal was for 70 percent of students to score between a three or a four in work pertaining to personal responsibility. In 25 classes, 272 students closest to graduating were assessed. Of those students, 136 should have had their work evaluated by faculty, yet only 81 examples of student work were returned. Students didn’t do the work or dropped out. Plus, not all faculty turned in student work. Results were produced but with a big margin of error because of the small sample size. In the end, 51 percent of the student work scored either a three or four.

After a request for funds to help Palo Alto achieve a higher success rate in 2017-2018, a Faculty/Staff Innovation Grant of $2,500 was awarded to McDevitt to help address these problem areas. Workshops to help faculty be more compliant and new student programs like Food for Thought, where students enjoy a snack and engage in a conversation that focuses on a student learning outcome, were put into place to help achieve better and more accurate results.

Local blogger and photographer Anna Angenend shared her knowledge with students enrolled in COMM 2330: Intro to Public Relations, Student Government Association members and an EDUC 1300: Learning Framework class on September 28.

“Mrs. Angenend’s speaking and quick responses are something I will not forget when it comes to an example of communication. Learning communication creates an idea of what I should know for this particular field,” said Madylin Garcia, Public Relations sophomore.

The next Food for Thought program will be Monday, Oct. 30, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:35 p.m. in the Student Center Annex and will focus on the outcome of teamwork. It will feature a panel discussion with PAC’s three vice presidents.