By Alyssa Ytuarte
Pulse Staff Reporter
Palo Alto College professors are improving their curriculum with the help of key assignments. The main goal of Palo Alto’s professors is to better educate their students with knowledge and skills not only in their classes but also for life.
Key assignments demonstrate students’ communication, critical thinking, empirical and quantitative reasoning, social responsibility, and teamwork skills.
“These are skills you have to have to survive in the world,” said Julie McDevitt, coordinator of Measurement & Evaluation. These learning outcomes will be posted on the walls of each classroom on campus in the near future.
The State Board of Education had faculty members across the state demonstrate their students’ proficiency using these institutional learning outcomes.
The faculty and staff come together in workshops with student artifacts, which is the work of students from the previous semester. They rate the students’ work based on a rubric.
After their scores are collected, the professors gather together and talk about how they can improve the curriculum for their students to fully understand and use these skills in their assignments.
Jennifer Scheidt, English professor, said, “Different faculty members are tapped, and if a student is selected as part of the sample, then your class gets selected. What they want to have is a key assignment in place.”
For example, Scheidt has students build a Works Cited group assignment that addresses teamwork in her ENGL 1301 courses.
Palo Alto College professors have been rating these skills since 2010. In the time since, these skills have been improved and updated for the students taking classes in the fall and spring semesters of 2017-2018. The students’ artifacts have improved, and these skills are being used in today’s classrooms.
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board policy states: “Through the Texas Core Curriculum, students will gain a foundation of knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world, develop principles of personal and social responsibility for living in a diverse world, and advance intellectual and practical skills that are essential for all learning.”
Students at Palo Alto will have a better understanding of what effort is needed of them once they see the skills posted all around campus. Key assignments have been put into play and were designed to challenge and bring about a student’s complete potential by utilizing and honing in on the skills they possess to complete a challenging task.
Jesus Farias, 20, a sophomore Biology major at Palo Alto, said, “In my Biology class, we do difficult labs with two to three other students where we write up our labs based on what we did step-by-step and what we observed.”
For more information, please contact Julie McDevitt, coordinator of Measurement & Evaluation at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her phone number is (210) 486-3735.