Outcomes Assessment

Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) faculty members design, revise, and participate in regular assessment of student learning. This includes three core processes: College-Wide Learning Outcomes (CWLOs) Reporting, completion of the Program Outcomes Guide (POG), and Program Review. The purpose of assessment is to provide an honest and accurate look at:

  • where our students fully meet our learning expectations,
  • where we identify room for improvements, and
  • what strategies we will use to improve student learning.

The information below provides an overview of the three core learning assessment processes. Faculty members are provided with more detailed information, forms, and support when they participate in each process. Please contact Sally Heilstedt if you have questions, desire clarification, or want support in completing any of the processes.

The diagram included here shows the connections among the three learning assessment processes at LWTech: CWLOs Reports (College-Wide Student Learning Outcomes), Program Outcomes Guide (Program Learning Outcomes), and Program Review (Indirect Measures of Student Engagement and Learning). Student Achievement is at the center, course outcomes assessment is included throughout, and the continuous improvement feedback loop circle the full diagram.

College-Wide Learning Outcomes

LWTech's college-wide learning outcomes (CWLOs) include communication, critical thinking, cultural humility, information literacy, and teamwork. Certificates of proficiency designate one course that teaches to and assesses each CWLO; degrees designate two for each.

  • What: The reporting process includes qualitative and quantitative analysis of students’ learning of the CWLOs. Faculty complete a unique report for each outcome. The report includes a description of how the CWLO was taught; the summative assessment used; student achievement based on a standardized, faculty-developed rubric; faculty reflection and plans for continuous improvement; and students’ descriptions of their learning.
  • When: Faculty teaching CWLO-designated courses teach to and assess the outcome every time the course is taught. They complete the formal report every other year. LWTech has consistently assessed CWLOs (formerly called Global Outcomes) for at least a decade.
  • Who: Faculty, both full-time and adjunct, complete the reporting process when teaching the designated courses and following the schedule above. Students also participate in the CWLOs reporting process by completing a self-reflection that includes:
    • Based on the definition of [the CWLO] provided above and the learning experiences you had in this class, how does the ability to [summary of the CWLO definition] relate to your professional goals?
    • How will you apply the ability to [summary of the CWLO definition] to your personal experiences?
  • How: The following are examples of how teaching to the CWLOs has changed based on faculty analysis in the reporting process. These changes are summarized from the comments in the faculty reflection section of the reporting packets.
    • In English, the faculty rewrote the rubric’s standard descriptors to better fit course content. Program faculty in a number of courses revised the descriptors as well.
    • Multiple faculty members, from across programs, cite delivering instruction about the CWLO throughout the course instead of in one, isolated unit.
    • Another common theme is adding student self-reflection and self-assessment for assignments connected to CWLOs (in addition to the short reflection form required in the reporting process). Specifically, this includes students describing their problem-solving processes as they complete a critical thinking assignment and students use of the standardized rubrics to identify areas of continued growth.
    • Faculty librarians partner with faculty teaching to the information literacy CWLO to enhance student skills in research, source evaluation, citation, etc.
    • Faculty teaching to the teamwork outcome have adopted the flipped class model to provide students with the opportunity to learn through practice. This approach was the focus of the 2019 faculty Summer Institute thanks to faculty leadership in this area.

Faculty Insight: During the Spring 2019 Faculty Department Chairs and Program Directors meeting, faculty noted that the CWLOs (and their reporting process) create curricular focus on preparing students for “tomorrow’s opportunities” through continuous improvement of soft skills instruction. Faculty also stated that the CWLOs unify instruction across programs, inclusive of general education, and provide the opportunity to share best practices and learn from peers. CWLOs are critical for student achievement during and after college because they take a holistic approach to students’ success.

Program Outcomes

Program outcomes are the overall abilities students will be able to demonstrate upon completion of a program (i.e., certificate or degree). The program outcomes are listed in the college catalog and each course’s outcomes align with the program outcomes.

  • What: The POG provides a framework for quantitative and qualitative analysis of students’ learning of the program outcomes. Emphasis is placed on the qualitative description of student learning results and on the changes made or planned to improve results. One guide, which includes identification of measurable criteria for each outcome, course mapping, type of assessment, timing of assessment, results, and changes made or planned, is completed by each program.
  • When: Faculty complete a POG every two years.
  • Who: POGs are completed by all full-time faculty within a program, though multiple faculty noted during the 2018-2019 POG completion that the process would be more informative and effective if adjunct faculty were also involved.
  • How: The following are examples of how teaching to program outcomes has changed based on faculty analysis during POG completion. These changes are summarized from the comments in the results and changes made or planned sections of the guides for the past five years.
    • Accounting faculty flipped a course with low performance in order to provide more guidance as students work through complex problems. The model also allows students to re-watch lectures as needed. Student achievement in the course, which directly teaches to a program outcome, improved.
    • Careful review of the alignment of course outcomes with program outcomes led to the revision of course outcomes and/or program outcomes in Engineering, Behavioral and Social Service, Design, Early Childhood Education, and Baking.
    • Machining faculty better scaffolded major student projects so that knowledge and skills build across courses and the program. The result was that all students were able to independently complete a complex set up.
    • The Business transfer faculty determined that a Leadership Seminar would better prepare students to demonstrate all of the program outcomes and created the new curriculum.

Faculty Insight: Faculty discussion of program outcomes assessment at the Spring 2019 Faculty Department Chairs and Program Directors meeting included multiple insights that will continue to define the purpose of this work. Program outcomes are the job skills students need to be successfully employed. The POG helps faculty examine not just student learning but also the teaching of the outcomes. It also focuses faculty on the essential outcomes of their programs and on offering a valuable education, one that gets students to the level expected by industry.

Program Review

Program Review provides the opportunity to assess student access to and success in each program and to look at overall needs of the program to improve those indirect measures of student learning. In 2017-18, Program Review underwent extensive revision to provide meaningful and manageable assessment of each program by faculty and administrators. The new format allows faculty to analyze their program enrollment, retention, and completion through an equity lens by disaggregating student success by students of color and white students. Each program review written by faculty is assessed by the Dean and Vice President of Instruction. In its first year, all but one program completed the review. In 2018-19, all programs completed the review.

  • What: Program Review includes quantitative analysis of enrollment, retention, completion, and equity between white students and students of color. Faculty position requests and equipment requests are also made as part of Program Review. Faculty access data through Tableau, for which they receive training and individual access.
  • When: Program Review is completed every two years.
  • Who: Faculty Department Chairs and Program Directors complete Program Review.
  • How: The following are examples of how teaching and program delivery have changed based on faculty analysis in Program Review. These changes are summarized from the comments in the faculty reflection sections of Program Review during the past two years.
    • Programs added I-BEST certificates to improve access and completion.
    • Programs implemented a cohort model to improve retention and completion.
    • Faculty committed to practicing the 4 Connections and using the Transparency Framework to improve course success and close equity gaps.
    • Review of demographic variability in enrollment and success led faculty to recruit differently and seek grant funding to support underrepresented students.
    • Funeral Service Education revised the modality of a hybrid course with low success rates to be fully face-to-face. Student skills have improved and licensure exam scores are significantly higher.

Faculty Insight: Program Review provides crucial indirect measures of student learning that lead faculty to make decisions that ultimately affect student achievement of learning outcomes. During the Spring 2019 Faculty Department Chairs and Program Directors meeting, faculty described Program Review as the process of analyzing data, identifying trends, and addressing problems within the programs that affect student retention and completion.