Category Archives: Institutional Effectiveness

Humility + Assessment = Success

I have always been fascinated by assessment, unfortunately I know not everyone shares my feelings on the subject. I have had colleagues who consider it a dirty word. They dread the thought of it, and treat it as just another hoop to jump through when the time comes to participate.

A pre-test here.

A post-test there.

A journal reflection.

Or the ultimate avoidance, just saying a regular class assignment is, in fact, assessment.

Unfortunately, those who avoid confronting the challenges of assessments are not helping with the end goal, to improve student education through meaningful analysis and feedback.

The reason that some fear to participate in a group assessment and decide to take a solo route is that assessments are looked at as inconvenient or difficult; however, these approaches often overshadow efficient strategies for approaching this dilemma, strategies that which rely on one, simple trait: humility.

I love my standardized rubric for essays. It isn’t perfect, but it is consistent, and students appreciate that. The rubric is based off of one that is required to be used in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. That system consists of 16 colleges and every writing instructor uses the same rubric for their essays. I was lucky enough to see that rubric be initially implemented as well as its evolution over the last decade into its current form.

Now there was significant pushback when the rubric was first forced upon the faculty. Arguments ranged from “but I don’t grade essays with a rubric” to “my rubric is already better than this one”, but top to bottom it was adopted.

It is difficult to adjust teaching habits, but understand that a standardized rubric doesn’t change the way we teach, it simply unifies the way we grade. In that way, a standard rubric is even less intrusive than requiring a specific assignment for assessment.

So what is gained from using the same rubric for every essay?

Starting on the class level, it is easy to get a snapshot of student’s skills improving (or not improving) over a semester. It also allows the teacher to see if the class as a whole is struggling in a specific area (I’m looking at you point of view slips). This lets allows class needs to be addressed on a holistic level through lectures. I do this with my youtube series “English Power Lectures”, but setting aside 15 minutes when essays are handed back to address major problems does the trick as well.

When multiple faculty start to use the same rubric the assessment becomes that much more valuable. Now trends can be seen over a much larger group of students, it is also possible to see where one class struggles and another doesn’t. With this knowledge, teachers can share techniques for dealing with that particular issue. This is the beauty (and truly the purpose) of assessment. It serves as a common tool and focal point that can start an analysis, conversation, and implementation of course wide improvements.

Now implementing something district or even school wide is difficult, so start small. Talk to a group of fellow faculty (or adjunct faculty) and do your best to develop a rubric that works for multiple assignments or essays. Use that rubric in a course and compare notes. It won’t be perfect, but assessment can always be improved upon. It may be difficult to unify your grading techniques with others, but remember that teaching isn’t meant to be a solo endeavor. Instructors are stronger as a community, and students will benefit from that community. All it takes is a little bit of humility.

 

What if your ability to keep your job was contingent on the success of your client?

Last week, during our weekly department meeting, I proposed this to my staff: What if your ability to keep your job was contingent on the success of your client? What if you didn’t get paid until your clients were happy and successful? What if every employee was responsible for their own salary?

Do you know how many students you would need to guarantee are successful each year? Just for illustration purposes, multiply your salary by 37% (that’s about how much of your paycheck comes from tuition). Now divide that number by $71 (that’s how much GCC gets from the District per credit hour); now take that number and divide it by 24 (that’s 12 credit hours per semester). That equals the approximate number of full time students you need to make sure are successful this year to equal your paycheck.

The point of that exercise is to ask this: If your job depended on those students staying at GCC, paying tuition and re-enrolling for another year, would you be more proactive in their personal academic success? Would you march them over to the Enrollment Center and personally see to it that they are enrolled and paid their tuition? Would you shepherd them through the process of financial aid? Would you ask how their grades are, escort them to tutoring, make sure they studied hard? Would you ask how else you can help them be successful?

While we have a duty to educate and raise up our students to be independent, contributing members of society, they are still, after all, our client. Meaning, they can take their tuition dollars elsewhere. They are paying for a service (an education) just like any number of us do at other establishments. And the first rule of customer service is to picture them with dollar signs on their forehead.

Marketing people are familiar with the old adage: If someone has a good experience, they might tell three people. If someone has a bad experience they will tell 11. Now, this was before social media! So go ahead and add a couple zeros behind those numbers to account for a mass online audience. This effects a student’s motivation to enroll a great deal.

Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool. In fact, more than 37% of our students are here because of a friend or family member! Another 10% are here because of a relationship they formed with a recruiter. Another batch are here because our online community through social media. A successful, cared for, student is a happy student who is willing to tell others about GCC.

In all reality, that’s your paycheck walking around out there on campus. How many students are you responsible for? Would you serve a student as if your job depended on it?

 

What your zip code may be saying about you.

By: Eddie Lamperez, Coordinator of Institutional Effectiveness

Glendale Community College has a diverse student body. The zip code in which a student resides can tell us a lot about them. The top five zip codes for GCC students include four that surround GCC Main and one that is adjacent to GCC North.

  • 85302 (1,438 students). Location: Glendale. Median Household Income: $47,884. Most common educational intent: university/college transfer. Most common ethnicity: White. Percent that are first generation students: 58%.
  • 85345 (1,329 students). Location: Peoria. Median Household Income: $49,014. Most common educational intent: university/college transfer. Most common ethnicity: White. Percent that are first generation students: 64%.
  • 85308 (1,245 students). Location: Glendale and Phoenix. Median Household Income: $70,701. Most common educational intent: university/college transfer. Most common ethnicity: White. Percent that are first generation students: 40%.
  • 85301 (1,103 students). Location: Glendale. Median Household Income: $31,254. Most common educational intent: university/college transfer. Most common ethnicity: Hispanic. Percent that are first generation students: 72%.
  • 85303 (789 students). Location: Glendale. Median Household Income: $52,301. Most common educational intent: university/college transfer. Most common ethnicity: Hispanic. Percent that are first generation students: 67%.

If you are from the zip codes that surround GCC Main then you are more likely to be Hispanic or White, working class or middle class, and a first generation college student. If you are from a zip code adjacent to GCC North, then you are more likely to be middle class or upper middle class, White, and have parents who graduated from college. Regardless of zip code, your intent is likely to be transfer to a college or university and earn a bachelor’s degree. We embrace the  diversity of our students at GCC; helping all of our students achieve their goals is our mission.

Learn more about GCC students by visiting: http://www2.gccaz.edu/departments/administrative/spa/research