Category Archives: Core Learning Outcomes

Honors Event Inspires Guest Speaker to Further Inquiry

Last February, the Honors Program invited scholar, Sharon Schuman, to campus to discuss her book, Freedom and Dialogue in a Polarized World.

Sharon Schuman

As I described in a post after the event, Schuman extends Mikhail Bakhtin’s work on the dialogic nature of language to the concept of freedom. She argues that freedom is dialogic. The more perspectives one can see from, the freer one will be.

This event was well-attended by students, faculty, staff, and members of the Eugene community. During the Q&A session, a student who was not in the Honors Program commented that Schuman seemed to think that polarization was a bad thing. She asked a thought-provoking question: “What’s wrong with polarization?”

Schuman was so intrigued by the student’s question that she continued thinking about it and whether there were positive aspects to polarization. Several months later, she wrote an essay in response. It was published in today’s Register-Guard newspaper as a Guest Viewpoint: “Polarization is Easy; Seeing the Other Side is Hard.” She will also post it on her website, Dialogic Freedom, and I’ll link to that post, as well, once it is up.

The Schuman event and follow-up essay exemplify so much of what is valuable about honors education at community colleges and specifically at Lane Community College:

  • encouraging student engagement in intellectual and creative activities with prominent scholars;
  • creating spaces for learning outside the classroom;
  • bringing together members of the Lane and Eugene communities to consider contemporary scholarship that is highly-relevant to today’s world;
  • engaging diverse perspectives; and
  • leading to increased critical thinking and broadening the discussion to a significantly wider audience.

In short, the event supported the college’s Core Learning Outcomes and its Core Themes. It is one of many examples of how honors contributes to mission fulfillment and of the valuable service that Lane Community College provides to our community. 

Undergraduate Research in the 2016 Capstone Seminar

Each spring, students in the Honors Capstone Seminar conduct group research projects and share their findings with the appropriate audience. They choose the topic/s, conduct the research, and determine the best means of presenting their findings.

In the past, topics have ranged from the Take Back the Tap movement to gender inequality in higher education to rainwater harvesting to housing stability for the chronically homeless.

Poster for the Honors Research Symposium

Poster for the Honors Research Symposium

This year, the students explored Oregon’s success at reducing recidivism. They examined the economic impact of recidivism, recidivism for adults and juveniles, and the success of specific programs in Oregon. They ultimately argued that the most successful means of preventing recidivism is through programs that focus on altering the behavior of ex-inmates and on providing support for ex-inmates, as well as using a cooperative approach to offering these services.

They shared their findings through a PowerPoint presentation and a research poster that will be displayed in the Learning Commons in the fall. Their presentation was also filmed by Dean Middleton and Randal Painter.

Completing this project supported not only the course learning outcomes but also all five of Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes:

  • Think Critically
  • Engage Diverse Values with Civic and Ethical Awareness
  • Create Ideas and Solutions
  • Communicate Effectively
  • Apply Learning

I look forward to seeing, and learning from, the research findings of next year’s seminar students!

Sharing Lane’s Work on Honors Assessment

This week I head to Chicago for the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference. It’s the NCHC’s 50th anniversary celebration.

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I’ll be co-presenting at the session, “Approaches to Assessment at Two-Year Colleges,” with Sheila Stepp from Orange County Community College (SUNY).

My presentation focuses on three types of assessment: student learning of course outcomes, student learning of Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes, and program review. I’ll draw on honors assessment work I’ve done with my colleagues: Sarah Lushia, Katie Morrison-Graham, and Eileen Thompson.

Some of my presentation will focus on Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes. Watch the student video produced by Sarah Lushia to see the impact the CLOs have on students.

Some of it will address the use of ePortfolios in assessing student learning. Again, watch the video Sarah produced featuring students discussing the value of ePortfolios. Students and faculty together can engage in authentic assessment of student learning.

The final part of my presentation will concern program review. I’ll draw on the NCHC’s recent development of a program review process, the parallel development of Lane’s program review process, and the Honors Program’s adaptations of both of these processes to best determine our strengths, the areas where we need improvement, and the support we’ll need to make those improvements.

More posts to come during and/or after the conference!

 

 

Collaboratively-Created, Task-Specific Rubrics

This week, the latest issue of JNCHC arrived in the mail. It included my essay, “Collaborative Design: Building Task-Specific Rubrics in the Honors Classroom,” which is part of the issue’s forum, “Rubrics, Templates, and Outcomes Assessment.” In the essay, I focus on how students in the honors seminars help create the task-specific rubrics we use for different assignments and argue that this activity enhances learning and empowers students.

I did not come to this approach in isolation. Sarah Ulerick and I engaged students in creating rubrics during the first Invitation to Inquiry Seminar in the spring of 2012. My participation in a Faculty Interest Group on critical thinking, led by Siskanna Naynaha and Kate Sullivan, introduced me to an invaluable resource that I used to further develop this approach: Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom, by John C. Bean.

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My co-instructor in the honors seminars, Katie Morrison-Graham, and I continue to refine our approach to developing rubrics with our students. We are planning to work with Lane’s Assessment Team this year to develop more ways to incorporate Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes into our collaboratively-produced, task-specific rubrics.

 

 

Student Voices

I am often asked what distinguishes an honors class from a non-honors class. There are many ways to answer this question, but one characteristic we have emphasized in our program is the degree to which students have ownership over what happens in class.

In the Invitation to Inquiry and Capstone seminars, students are responsible for much of what takes place each term. For instance, they choose their individual research questions in Inquiry and their group research questions in Capstone. This year’s Capstone students created idea maps when narrowing down their topics.

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In Inquiry, students participate in a two-hour, student-driven round table discussion. In Capstone, they decide on their group dynamics and group member responsibilities, and they determine the entire structure of the symposium at which they share their research findings:

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Capstone students Maria Sullivan, Mike Dann, Dakota MacColl, and Brandi Tekell in an early group-work session.

In both seminars, students discuss how their learning should be assessed and the rubrics we use are created based on their decisions. Also, each year we revise the seminars based on student feedback and suggestions.

Another way in which students impact honors courses is through the ePortfolio requirement. One of our ePortfolio leads, Sarah Lushia, teaches the honors section of WR 122, and she built a substantial ePortfolio component into her class. Last term, she invited several former students to coffee. For three hours they discussed the ePortfolio assignment and general guidelines, determining how these could be improved. She then made the changes they had discussed, which impacts how students in her class will increase their learning through the ePortfolio assignment and how all students in the program will benefit from this requirement through changes to the general guidelines.

We have extended the student ownership and input that takes place in the classroom to the administrative level, as well. As noted in a previous entry, the Honors Leadership Team included in its charter the requirement to have a student member, and our first student member, Cheyne Dandurand joined the team. Cheyne is currently creating a document outlining the specific responsibilities for this position.

Honors students are also contributing to the ways in which faculty think about Lane’s new Core Learning Outcomes:

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I’ve mentioned these CLOs in other blog entries, but here I want to discuss the honors students participation in a CLO workshop held last month. Tricia Lytton organized a panel of students who could share with faculty the ways in which they have engaged the CLOs and the impact this engagement has had on their learning experience. Cheyne, Mike, and Dakota each presented on the panel and then answered questions. Tricia had a scheduling conflict, so I moderated the panel but after all of the preparation Tricia and the students had done, little moderation was needed.

Mike recently started a blog as part of his ePortfolio, and he discusses the panel in his first post. I’ll end this entry to my own blog with Mike’s voice about his panel experience.