SUMMARY of FINDINGS:
Detailed reports of findings are recorded in GCC's SLOAC database. A summary of findings for course level assessments are outlined below:
Whereas in 2012, the program evaluated the writing skills in our sequence of courses, in 2013, the program evaluated the verbal skills. For all levels, 0 - 5, the program identified areas of improvement in the verbal assessment tools. The improvement focused on providing a more conversational-style assessment and reducing student memorization of the verbal questions. During Spring 2013, a faculty leader, Paul Mayer, conducted a special project with a group of adjunct instructors to create an improved verbal assessment exit test for each level. The new versions of the assessment tests were piloted by the adjuncts involved with the special project, and presented to faculty at the June 2013 retreat; each level held its own presentation and feedback session. The overall consensus was that these versions of the verbal tests were improvements over the previous tests, though there were areas that required further revisions, clarifications, and streamlining. During the Fall 2013, these second phase revisions were implemented through a second special project. These second revisions will be vetted through the full time NC ESL faculty in December 2013 to determine an appropriate adoption date.
While the writing aspect of the entire sequence of courses was not examined this semester, there was continuation of the 2012 writing discussion for our upper levels 4 and 5. The division continues to struggle with appropriate writing exit expectations of its students in these higher levels. Levels 4 and 5 are required to write 3 paragraph essays, yet it is unclear if this skill is necessary for NC ESL students who are not on an academic track. At the June 2013 retreat, we discussed the possibility of implementing a variety of writing exits according to student pathway (life skills, vocational, academic), yet how to do so with all three groups in one class is yet to be determined. We also considered the effectiveness of portfolio assessments. The division acknowledges that the upper level writing needs of its students are complex and will require ongoing discussion, experimentation, and action research.
Another major focus of the June 2013 retreat was an analysis of the NC ESL Conversation sequence course level outcomes. The conversation curriculum outcomes are not well aligned between the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, and exit performance expectations are not clearly identified. Because conversation is a requirement for 2 out of the 3 NC ESL Certificates of Competency, the division chose this area for in depth analysis and improvement. During the summer 2013, we added more conversation classes to the schedule with the hope of providing more opportunity for students to qualify for certificates. In Fall 2013, our VESL faculty member, Karen Hamilton, conducted a special project with several adjunct instructors to design a thematic component to the conversation curriculum of workplace readiness. The group revised the SLOs for Intermediate Conversation for workplace readiness and identified appropriate assessment methods for the course. Two workplace readiness Intermediate Conversation classes will be piloted during the Winter 2014 short session, with more scheduled for the Spring 2014.
Finally, as a division, we began an effort to increase the awareness and usage of Moodle in our NC ESL classes. We started the training at the June 2013 retreat, and an adjunct faculty member has been conducting ongoing training and support to the NC ESL faculty throughout Fall 2013. We expect an increased implementation of Moodle as a result of this effort.