TRU Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

Month: November 2021

SAILing Forth! Faculty-Led Assessment of TRU’s Institutional Learning Outcomes

Three sailboats representing different institutional learning outcomes and different disciplines from TRU

Image courtesy of the SAIL team

By Lorry-Ann Austin, Faculty of Education and Social Work
Jamie Noakes and Tara Bond, Career and Experiential Learning
Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov, Faculty of Education and Social Work
Lian Dumouchel, Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts, and Tourism
Carolyn Hoessler, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
Alana Hoare, Office of Quality Assurance 

We set SAIL! Specifically, we launched and collaborated on the 2021 SAIL, the Strategic Assessment of Institutional Learning, pilot of TRU.  

Through SAIL we aimed to pilot a faculty-led approach to assessing student achievement of TRU’s institutional learning outcomes (ILO). In Winter 2021, we chose an ILO and joined faculty colleagues in a small group that we called an ILO Pod. Together, we co-created a shared rubric for the ILO. After the end of the term, we assessed student assignments from each others’ courses to provide ratings and a report to each other for reflection. This first pilot focused on Lifelong Learning, Social Responsibility, and Critical Thinking and Investigation, which are the ILOs that we taught. We will continue with these ILOs in Winter 2022. Later SAIL-ings (pilots) will focus on the remaining ILOs.

Through our cross-disciplinary collaboration via SAIL ILO Pods, we valued the opportunity to deepen our understanding about the ILO of focus. Our colleagues provided a fresh set of eyes on our assignments, and the discussions about how we assessed the ILOs prompted great insight and revisiting of our courses. The collaboration offered new conceptualizations of ILO application and inspiration for assessment. We also valued the opportunity to share our exciting work on campus and at an international conference. SAIL additionally confirmed student learning around the ILO and increased student understanding of the benefits of general education. 

We built on the work of colleagues across TRU including the ILOs created by the General Education Taskforce, and the Principles for learning outcomes and assessment from the Learning Outcomes and Assessment Taskforce. 

Our discussions and post-report debrief provided insights that informed the SAIL report, the recommendations being consulted on across campus, an Assessment Institute presentation, and a recent CELTalk. Our adventures can be found on the SAIL websiteWe look forward to continuing with the ILO Pods that we enjoyed, trying a new consent process and platform, and selecting assignments in late fall for a winter term SAIL-ing. Carolyn and Alana are also gathering feedback on the SAIL Recommendations and the Learning Outcomes and Assessment Principles. 

Recommendations & Next Steps – Come SAIL with us! 

Two recommendations arose from the research findings of our pilots, which the Learning Outcome and Assessment Task force is actively seeking feedback on through Faculty Council and curriculum committee presentations, as well as engaging with TRUSU Student Caucus this Fall. We are recommending the continuation of the SAIL research pilot, which includes the establishment of ILO Pods for TRU’s eight ILOs. The ILO Pods will be coordinated through the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) and supported by faculty learning and development coordinators. We will continue to explore the value of interdisciplinary rubrics to provide ratings of a subset of student assignments in ILO courses. For more details about the recommendations see the SAIL 2021 Pilot report and Fall 2021 feedback survey. 

We are about to start Season 2 of SAIL with the ILO rubrics for Lifelong Learning, Social Responsibility, and Critical Thinking and Investigation. If you are teaching an ILO course, come SAIL with us! 

Navigating Late Fall with Radical Acts of Caring-Listening

A woman holds up a compass on a foggy landscape

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

By Carolyn Ives, Coordinator, Learning and Faculty Development, CELT

We are nearly two-thirds through the fall term, and I’m wondering how you all are doing: Has the fall term been energizing for you? Has it been challenging? Or has it been a bit of both?

If you’re happy to be back on campus but still struggling sometimes with the transition, you are not alone. For many, this has been a challenging fall term: just as we all had to learn to work remotely, and students had to learn to study remotely, we have all had to re-learn how to work together in person, sometimes while still integrating virtual interactions. For students who in previous terms could leave cameras off and listen anonymously, this semester of being visible in the classroom context may leave some feeling exposed and vulnerable. For faculty who spent many hours creating and delivering online content, some are now wondering if those hours were lost as they are considering whether the materials they created are still useful and useable. The ground is still shifting for some.

The nature of face-to-face work has changed, also. For example, even though I’m back on campus, my days are a mix of interacting and connecting with colleagues in person and online—and still mostly online. The transition back to face-to-face may never fully happen, as we now realize the value and convenience of online meetings, especially for including colleagues who might otherwise not be able to engage. There are definitely both pros and cons to our new reality.

One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the value of extending grace to each other and to students as we continue to navigate this new context together. I was reminded this weekend about the importance of what Valerie Palmer-Mehta (2016) refers to as “radical acts of caring-listening”—acts of humanity that bring us closer to professional humility, authenticity, curiosity, and collaboration. I was thinking about this in reference to a conference proposal that examines the work of educational developers and how they can work more effectively with other faculty members on both individual and institutional levels in light of shifting power dynamics. It occurred to me, too, that this kind of approach also works for faculty-student interactions. What would happen if we approached all our interactions with students and with each other in this fashion? What if we listened more and didn’t jump to conclusions or make assumptions about what our colleagues and students wanted, needed, or intended? This kind of work takes more time, and communication is often challenging at the best of times, but the result is absolutely worth the time and effort.

Writing the proposal reminded me that I can be more intentional about applying radical acts of caring-listening in my interactions. I appreciated this reminder, especially in the busy moments of a rapidly moving fall term.

Palmer-Mehta, V. (2016). Theorizing listening as a tool for social change: Andrea Dworkin’s discourses on listening. International Journal of Communication 10. pp. 4176-4192.

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