KEEP Case Studies: Linking Community Members

Linking Teaching and Learning by Linking Community Members

"Our initial vision of student eportfolios has rapidly changed into a vision of multi-layered faculty and student pages that offer both formative and comprehensive pictures of the relationships between teaching and learning." - Jean Mach

Although College of San Mateo faculty initially asked students to use the KEEP Toolkit to create student eportfolios, they have since discovered powerful ways to use the Toolkit to support collaborative assessment of student work as well as assessment of course curriculum and institutional student learning outcomes at course, program, and institutional levels.

Writing Across the Curriculum with Students

In the spring of 2007, CSM faculty included the KEEP Toolkit in their Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) pilot project. After being introduced to the tool by the Carnegie Integrative Learning Project, faculty focused on creating student eportfolios, which were stitched groups of KEEP Toolkit snapshots. They immediately involved students who were enrolled in mathematics, philosophy, and political science classes-13 sections in all-that were participating in the pilot project. The project's goal was (and continues to be) to improve the success and retention rates of students who are enrolled in transfer-level classes but are writing below college level.

Having students create their own eportfolios encouraged students to take their own writing development seriously because of the "live" audience provided by the internet. It also helped students to see and to understand the artifacts they were creating toward meeting CSM's Institutional Student Learning Outcomes.

CSM faculty member Cheryl Gregory created a few resources to help students create interesting snapshots. She has made videos, documents and a snapshot page of html codes to show students how to get the most from the Toolkit.

Collaborative Assessment

WAC Faculty collected their students' snapshots and created galleries, using the KEEP Toolkit gallery tool. Then, they collaboratively assessed students' work at the end of the semester. Two faculty members, from two different disciplines, sat at a computer and read randomly selected student snapshots from each participating class's gallery. They used separate rubrics to assess the snapshots, one to consider writing skills in the papers posted to specific institutional learning outcomes by the students, and one to consider, through their reflections and the papers, the students' understanding of and progress toward the ISLOs.

This exercise proved even richer than can be seen in the results tabulated on the rubrics, for it gave participating faculty an opportunity to discuss the artifacts within the context of the student reflections and teaching strategies they had employed, thus refining a shared understanding of what had happened in their classes over the semester. It also gave them an opportunity to discuss different configurations of the templates and different tools that were being used to organize and present the snapshots.

By incorporating this multi-layered form of assessment, faculty felt they could "move the emphasis toward genuine learning--and away from grades as an end in themselves," explained English Professor Jean Mach. Furthermore, the overall assessment helped evaluate and refine the WAC program itself.

Student Portfolios for Presentation

In a parallel effort, one of the faculty members involved in the WAC pilot also teaches a Creative Writing class. She has asked her students to create Toolkit Snapshots to establish an archive of the students' work, with the hope of establishing a greater sense of the community and collaborative achievement in a rather large class. This project also has the purpose of exploring students' engagement with eportfolios in a broader, more flexible way.

The Creative Writing class presented their snapshots at their final, which was two and a half hours. It was a serious but festive occasion, and the students clearly felt the importance of the event. Guests were welcome, and a number of other faculty attended. As each snapshot was projected, the student author discussed the accompanying process, goals, frustrations, and sense of accomplishment. All who witnessed the final were astounded by the intensity of the students' engagement.

The students were allowed to revise their snapshots during the following week. They were then recomposed into an eagerly awaited published gallery.

Institutional Assessment

The entire college has been involved over the last few years in articulating student learning outcomes at the course, department, and institution levels. The interdisciplinary endeavor of CSM's Integrative Learning Forums has provided numerous and opportune ways to assess ISLOs, and their incorporation of the KEEP Toolkit continues to support this work by providing transparent, archived examples of student work.

Since the Spring of 2007, the Cosmetology Department and a different learning community called "What the fork?" begun incorporating the Toolkit.

Connecting Teaching And Learning

The Toolkit provides a myriad of opportunities to talk about the connections between teaching and learning. The CSM faculty have used many of these opportunities including collaborative assessment of student work as well as the structure and content of their courses.

They used the KEEP Toolkit to highlight WAC in Statistics during a presentation at the Mathematical Association of America Conference. The Toolkit facilitated their sharing of various forms of information in one place--presenters linked to the college website, PowerPoint, Word Docs, pdfs, Quicktime movies, and toolkit templates in one organized page. And from this page, there were able to efficiently discuss their teaching and students' learning.

Other faculty members are developing their own snapshots to archive their course materials and create a record of the development and assessment of the curricular design and pedagogy of the classes.

The faculty have had ambitious yet accomplishable goals. They proudly report that they have begun to work on all of these:

  • to develop an electronic means of archiving student work for assessment that could inform curricular and pedagogical changes
  • to engage students in demonstrating in transparent ways their educational growth
  • to engage students in metacognitive reflection
  • to document the teaching that was behind the student work being archived, to show the connections concretely
  • to develop an accessible history of teaching and learning initiatives on the campus

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