Tag Archives: Core Learning Outcomes

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.

 

ePortfolios

When we started the Lane Honors Program, then Vice President Sonya Christian had the program pilot student ePortfolios before ePortfolios were rolled out across the college. Each honors student is required to build and continue working with an ePortfolio while in the program. The ePortfolios were intended to showcase the students’ work, thereby acting as additional tiers to their transcripts and resumes; however, we also found other benefits. Several colleagues across campus who had already been researching ePortfolios formed a think tank, and we began to see that ePortfolios had a lot to offer pedagogically.

To augment the think tank’s work, Anne McGrail, Katie Morrison-Graham, Eileen Thompson, and I applied for, and received, Research and Development funds. We also asked Sarah Lushia and Eileen Thompson to be the leads on ePortfolios. They are each building their own portfolios and are teaching students in their honors WR 121_H and WR 122_H classes how to build portfolios, as well. We used the R & D funds to send Sarah and Eileen to the AAEEBL conference in Boston. They returned with a wealth of evidence that ePortfolios are an effective pedagogical tool that is especially useful for teaching critical thinking, one of Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes (CLOs):

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Sarah and Eileen also explained that best practice for using ePortfolios in the classroom is for faculty to build and use ePortfolios themselves. I admit I came to this idea somewhat reluctantly if only because I couldn’t imagine finding the time to work on an ePortfolio. With technological assistance from Kevin Steeves and Jen Klaudinyi, however, I did begin building an ePortfolio:

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I found that it was useful for me to think through the ways my various interests and projects intersect. I have also been teaching students in the honors seminars to build portfolios and to use them for critical thinking. This winter will be the first time that I’ll use my own portfolio as part of the instruction in the honors seminars. I’ll be writing about that experience and about the Honors Program’s work to encourage honors faculty to incorporate ePortfolios into their teaching in future posts. In the meantime, I’m including the link to my ePortfolio. It is filled with empty pages and pages with little or no reflection, and while I realize that this is not the recommended way to share one’s portfolio, I’m willing to take the risk. It’s my hope that my learning curves for building an ePortfolio, teaching using ePortfolios, and helping administer a program that requires ePortfolios will progress along parallel paths and reflect related moments of learning best made visible by sharing the entire process.