About Assessment at LaGuardia
Assessment at LaGuardia Community College is a process designed to support meaningful learning and development—for students, of course, but also for faculty, staff and the College as a whole. Our assessment framework addresses:
- The entire purpose of college education, from first to last semester.
- The teaching and learning that takes place inside and outside the classroom.
- The learning that happens within and across programs, majors, or disciplines.
At the core of LaGuardia Community College’s Mission Statement “ to educate and graduate one of the world’s most diverse student populations” is an idea that also rests in the heart of the larger mission of the City University of New York (CUNY): opportunity. The central mission of both LaGuardia and CUNY aims to provide students with the tools, abilities, and higher-order competencies they need to create new opportunities for themselves, and, in the process, to change their world.
At LaGuardia, five Core Values anchor our mission to educate and graduate our student population: diversity, responsibility, opportunity, innovation, and learning. This last value, learning, speaks to the philosophy behind LaGuardia’s culture of assessment, which follows national models for accreditation and what’s called “assessing for learning.” The latter refers to the cycle of inquiry, data collection, feedback, and evidence-based action that asks faculty and staff to improve pedagogy and curriculum continuously, with the expectation that the process will lead to improved student success.
Our assessment processes are meant to answer questions such as:
- What do we want our students to learn?
- What are our common priorities as a College?
- How do we know we are succeeding in teaching those priorities?
- How do we know our students are learning, and how do we prove it?
LaGuardia strives to be a “learning college” by asking faculty, staff, and administration to assess their practices in order to learn more about ways to improve pedagogy, services, and management. A learning college encourages each person with a responsibility toward students to assess their mission, goals, and outcomes on a regular basis in order to make improvements that propel student success. LaGuardia is a college that is continuously examining, learning, and improving support for student learning and development.
LaGuardia is committed to a tradition of excellence in teaching and learning that goes beyond complying with the minimum expectations of national norms and accreditation priorities. While outcomes assessment is also a process that institutions of higher ed are required to undertake by regional accreditors like the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), they are also processes that encourage best practices, professional reflection, and evidence-based actions to improve our collective efforts to help students graduate and prepare for their next steps.
LaGuardia has drawn accolades from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment and the Association of American Colleges & Universities for its ability to use outcomes assessment to help faculty make changes that improve student learning Since 2002, LaGuardia has steadily built broad faculty engagement with an outcomes assessment process centered on a common set of outcomes addressed in both General Education courses and key courses in the majors. Assessing authentic artifacts of student learning faculty engage in an inquiry process that has been shown to support effective changes in curriculum and pedagogy. In 2012, MSCHE cited LaGuardia’s assessment program as “exemplary” and commended our work in building broad faculty engagement in outcomes assessment.
General Education Assessment
We define our General Education teaching and learning through the Core Competencies expressed through the Communication Abilities. In 2013-14, CUNY instituted Pathways, asking CUNY community colleges to structure General Education in 12 credits of the Pathways Required Core and 18 elective credits in the Pathways Flexible Core. In 2014-15, building on Pathways and its MSCHE Self-Study, hundreds of faculty, staff and students engaged in sustained review of what LaGuardia graduates should know and be able to do, informing revision of our college-wide Core Competencies, or Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). Since 2015-16, the faculty-led Assessment Leadership Team (ALT) has facilitated broad efforts to shape learning, teaching and assessment associated with these new Core Competencies. The College’s General Education Core Competencies and Communication Abilities apply to all students. They are integrated into the curriculum of every major, and in turn are evaluated during our annual Benchmark Readings.
LaGuardia has identified three overarching Core Competencies to structure our general education framework:
- Inquiry and Problem Solving asks students to seek and use disciplinary and cross-disciplinary content knowledge to address challenging issues, weighing evidence and drawing conclusions through a process of synthesis and evaluation.
- Global Learning asks students to approach the world’s challenges and opportunities from multiple perspectives and engage with issues of diversity, identity, democracy, power, privilege, sustainability and ethical action.
- Integrative learning asks students to make connections between ideas and apply them to new contexts, within and beyond campus and over time.
Students demonstrate Core Competencies using one of three Communication Abilities:
Our assessment processes reflect our focus on students’ longitudinal growth. At LaGuardia, each program has identified courses along the curriculum pathway that incorporate assignments connected to the College’s Core Learning Competencies and Communication Abilities. By mapping assignments across the curriculum, the College is able to capture students’ progress on the Competencies and Abilities at various stages of their degree, from the First Year Seminar, through key courses at the early, mid and late stages, culminating in the Capstone course experience. Consequently, our General Education Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) are assessed both in the Pathways Core and in three required courses in every major during early, middle and late points in the curriculum.
LaGuardia assesses SLOs by examining student artifacts collected in our ePortfolio system. Faculty and staff rate these artifacts using Core Competency and Ability rubrics during our annual college-wide benchmark readings. Shared with programs and the College, findings inform changes in assignments, curriculum, and pedagogy in both Pathways and required courses in each major. In 2022, MSCHE commended LaGuardia for our ePortfolio assessment and pedagogy, and for our Digital Communication Ability for general education.
Benchmark Reading data from 2022-2023 show how assessment helps to build professional learning and advance student learning and success.
Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) are developed by each program and articulated as part of the Mission Statement of each program. PLOs describe program-specific learning throughout the course of students’ education in the program and what specific skills, competencies, and knowledge the students will attain. PLOs are defined individually, and each program usually has between three and five. On an annual basis, faculty assess one of their PLOs in order to improve program-specific teaching and learning. Program faculty choose the methods of direct assessment of PLOs, which varies according to the courses and program goals.
All academic programs conduct a Periodic Program Review (PPR) every 6-8 years as mandated by CUNY. The PPR process allows the program to assess strengths and challenges, make evidence-based evaluations, and plan for future actions. PPRs are led by program faculty, who use their findings to recommend and implement changes in the program.
LaGuardia has a diverse array of initiatives to deepen the value of assessment and to develop and sustain high quality teaching and learning related to the Core Competencies at the College, including the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) Focus Seminars.
The Assessment Leadership Team at LaGuardia is a college-wide team that meets monthly to discuss the College’s on-going initiatives in Learning Outcomes Assessment, and to lead our annual Benchmark Readings that supports General Education learning. Members of the ALT Executive Committee–two faculty co-leaders and two Academic Affairs administrators–coordinate and guide ALT activities that shapes assessment practices at the programmatic and institutional levels.
For more information about assessment, please email to Rejitha Nair.
LaGuardia’s Learning Matters Assignment Library (LMAL) is a faculty-generated online resource housed within CUNY Academic Works. It responds directly to faculty requests for examples of assignments that model ways to address our Core Competencies and Communication Abilities. Contributions emerged from Center for Teaching and Learning seminars, Learning Matters Mini-Grants, departmental assignment development workshops, and successful assignments. Faculty are encouraged to submit their assignments to the LMAL.