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The Promise and Challenges of Portfolio Assessment Dave Dempsey, Professor of Meteorology (dempsey@sfsu. edu) Feb 23, 2009
Department of Geosciences, SFSU • Graduate Program § M. S. (Geosciences) • Undergraduate Programs § Geology (B. S. ) § Meteorology/Oceanography (B. S. ) § Earth Science (B. A. ) (new) • Faculty §Geology (~ 6) §Meteorology (~ 3) §Oceanography (2+) • Geology Students §B. S. : ~3 -10 grads/yr
Assessment & Evaluation of SFSU’s Geology Program A Brief Objective History: 1. 2002 -2003: Had to come up with a plan. (Ugh) 2. Subcommittee drafted learning objectives and performance criteria (We liked that--fun!) 3. Chose portfolios for assessment (Good on paper) 4. Faculty matched assignments with objectives (Easy) 5. 2003 -2005: Some partial student portfolios assembled (Herding cats? ) 6. Two people created rubric (Good for them!) 7. Three faculty tried to evaluate portfolios (Hard!) 8. The End
Portfolios: The Promise I. Good for showing student work • can see learning develop over time • can include maps, photos, writing easily II. Useful to student for job hunt III. (See literature for more)
Portfolios: The Challenge I. For Assessment (Gathering Data) A. Problem: Must get assignments (etc. ) into portfolio over 2 -4+ years and not lose it. B. Our “solution”: Students give instructor-designated assignments to advisors, who maintain portfolios.
Portfolios: The Challenge I. For Assessment (Gathering Data) C. Pitfalls: i. instructors forgot to remind students to keep assignments for portfolio ii. students didn’t keep assignments iii. students forgot to bring them to advisor iv. advisors didn’t maintain portfolios D. Death knell: Department stopped enforcing mandatory advising
Portfolios: The Challenge II. For Evaluation A. Portfolios incomplete B. Learning objectives & performance criteria seldom explicit in assignments, syllabi
Portfolios: The Challenge II. For Evaluation A. Evaluators unsure what to evaluate: 1. Did assignment address learning objective? (Only need one portfolio for that!) 2. Did student work meet instructor’s expectations? (Assignment grade does that!) 3. Was instructor grade appropriate? (Academic freedom an issue? What value do evaluators add ?
Roots of Our Problems I. Faculty participation, buy-in, and communication incomplete throughout II. Mandatory assessment broke down III. Point of portfolio evaluation unclear
Another Try: Some Ideas • Involve all faculty in learning objective development/revision (underway); require that objectives be explicit in course materials, communicated to students. • Assign responsibility for maintaining portfolios to the students. (Students would own their portfolios, a job marketing tool. ) • Hold students accountable for maintaining them. (Make it a graduation requirement? )
Another Try: Some Ideas • Reintroduce & enforce mandatory advising. • Assign responsibility for advising to one faculty member per semester, and give that person release time to do the work. (Advisor monitors student portfolio maintainance. )
Another Try: Some Ideas • Exit interview as part of senior capstone or seminar course: – Student meets semi-formally with interview committee (2 -3 faculty, rotating task). – Faculty pose problem or simulate job or grad school interview. – Student responds, using portfolio to illustrate what/where/how learned relevant stuff – Faculty score response and/or portfolio against performance criteria on Likert scale – Capstone/seminar instructor meets with committee, summarizes & reports results
Another Try: Bottom Line § Get faculty and student buy-in and participation through ownership of process (and a little pressure/persuasion) § § § Hold faculty and students accountable Devote a few resources for some of the work Keep the process visible Make assessment/evaluation an expectation and a regular part of Departmental culture