Teaching Talks November

Teaching TALKS at EOU:

Today’s Academics Linking Knowledge and Skills

 Volume 1 – Issue II – November 2012

EOU Celebrates Distance Learning Week

Heidi Harris

National Distance Learning Week (NDLW) will be November 5th through the 9th. A series of events will be held during that week to celebrate distance learning and to provide opportunities for faculty to learn more about best practices in online education and network with their fellow online faculty. The CTLA wants to take the opportunity to celebrate the hard work of EOU’s faculty, advisers, and students in providing quality online education to thousands of students every year.


In recognition of NDLW, the following will take place at EOU:

1) Faculty are invited to join the TechTalks Listserv. Instructions for joining the listserv can be found on the CTLA Homepage.

2) Google Hangouts on Best Practices in Online Education (Wednesday, November 7 and Friday, November 9)

3) Updated links and pages to the CTLA Website regarding MOOCs in Higher Education (discussion opportunities in coming weeks)


“This week, EOU reaffirms  its pioneer commitment and service to students at a distance,” says Sarah Witte.  “EOU faculty today employ learner-centered approaches to instructional design and use of instructional technologies in the online and seated classrooms, ensuring that students at a distance have access to an affordable 21st century education.”

“This week was developed to celebrate and create greater awareness of distance learning and to recognize leaders as well as best practices in the field,” says Dr. Kenneth Hartman, national committee chair and academic director of Drexel University Online. “USDLA could not have found a better person to lead this initiative. Dr. Hartman’s experience in education and the media will ultimately result in a very successful campaign to educate the public about distance learning,” says Dr. John Flores, CEO and President of the USDLA.

Online Learning is the fastest growing segment of education with 3.5 million adults and 700,000 K-12 students taking a course and or completing their degree completely online. For more information on any of the events listed above please contact Angie Adams or for information regarding the campaign contact Dr. Kenneth Hartman, NDLW National Committee Chair, at 215.895.0501 or visit www.usdla.org/ndlw/.


 Oregon Awarded 3-Year Lumina Funding for Pilot Work on DQP

On October 25-26, over 100 higher education faculty, administrators, and IT/IR staff from Oregon’s 17 community colleges and 7 public universities convened in Eugene, OR to attend a Degree Qualification Profile (DQP) conference and begin collaborative work on a descriptive degree profile that answers a key question circling the global stratosphere: what should a student know and be able to do at a given degree level, from associate to master’s?

Nationally recognized U.S. leaders in higher education—Paul Gaston, Susan Albertine, and Peggy Maki—led the conference with plenary discussions focused on AAC&U’s LEAP essential learning outcomes (Knowledge, Intellectual and Practical Skills, Personal and Social Responsibility, and Integrative and Applied Learning). These outcome areas frame and align with the proposed template of competency areas for a DQP: Broad knowledge, Specialized Knowledge, Intellectual Skills, Civic Learning, and Applied Learning.

“If the DQP people are right,” said EOU Mathematics Professor John Knudson-Martin, “then higher ed needs to improve the way we present our degrees (our products). Our product is getting expensive and we need to show our communities that the expense is worth it.”

One of the Breakout Sessions featuring the Bologna process used in Europe suggests that the DQP—or something like it—could be viewed as a universal transcript for U.S. degrees. EOU Communication Professor Xiaowei Chen said that DQP had the potential to make the U.S. degree more cosmopolitan, “unif[ying] educators world-wide to speak in a common voice for learning outcomes so the global society can have a coherent vision for the quality of an associate, a bachelor, and a master degree.”

The key to the DQP is in beta-testing processes wherein faculty have ample time and opportunity to develop outcome criteria and discuss appropriate student performance benchmarks that might describe competence in a given outcome area. For the DQP project, OUS institutions have agreed to focus on the written communication outcome and document institutional conversation about writing before moving to inter-institutional conversations where student samples are shared and discussed.

Writing Center Director, Professor Donna Evans, noted that her take-away from the conference was when “Peggy Maki asked the audience where opportunities currently exist for students to practice values reflected in program outcomes, and then commented that we cannot rely only on GenEd courses in this regard. Rather, Maki emphasized that students ‘should be writing in every course.’ This resonates loudly with me because my professional interests reside in the active recognition and promotion of writing in the disciplines as essential to positive student learning outcomes.”


Getting “HIP” with Diversity: High Impact Practices to Enhance Student Learning

Tawnya Lubbes

Bob Davies, Tawnya Lubbes and Sarah Witte recently attended the AAC&U Modeling Equity Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. While there they had the opportunity to explore the integration of high impact practices in all classrooms campus wide. The conference focused on diversity and equity strategies on campus as well, including recruitment, retention and persistence of underrepresented faculty, staff and students. Several sessions were offered that addressed meeting the needs of second language learners and immigrant students.

Other sessions discussed the integration of diversity education campus wide. As a result of the conference, Davies, Lubbes and Witte are dedicated to increasing HIP across content areas as well as integrating diversity training as part of the CTLA. Further, Davies and Lubbes will continue working with the Diversity community and PCSW to identify areas of campus improvement in order to facilitate a more inclusive community.


 Smarter Balanced Higher Education Webinar:

Sample Items and Tasks for ELA/Literacy

October 31, 2012
Nancy Knowles

Director of English Language Arts/Literacy Barbara Kapinus provided higher education faculty and administrators information on the Smarter Balanced assessment system and the types of English language arts/literacy items and tasks being developed.

Smarter Balanced is one of two assessment consortia funded by Race to the Top money. 21 states, including Oregon, plan to implement Smarter Balanced assessments for K-12 progress and college placement. The consortium claims to be teacher-led, but the perception of EOU faculty participating in the Webinar has been that the participation of college faculty has been limited or non-existent.

Smarter Balanced assessments are linked to the Common Core State Standards. The test will begin with a similar set of questions for all students and then proceed to more or less challenging questions based on initial responses. Currently, test items are under development, and the consortium expects freshmen entering college in 2016 to have been placed in courses using the assessment. The summative/placement test will be administered in the 11th grade, giving students the opportunity to remediate, continue, or move into college-level coursework in 12th grade.

Initially, the language arts assessment was comprised of multiple-choice, short answer, and text complexity questions, which the Oregon Writing and English Advisory Committee deemed invalid assessments of writing. Based on the webinar, it appears that “extended projects” involving research and writing with the potential to write and revise over several days have been added. Rubrics have been developed, but it was not clear whether the scoring would occur mechanically or using human scorers.

The EOU participants posed a question regarding how it could be assumed that one placement score would fit the contexts of all institutions when institutions have different class sizes, different quantities of adjunct-taught classes, and differing resources and supports for students, such as tutoring. The Webinar facilitators equated the trust we put in placement mechanisms with the trust we put in transferred courses as meeting the same requirements across institutions, failing to address a key challenge to the assessment design’s goal of uniformity.

Among the other concerns raised by the EOU and other participants included: What data supported the assumption that existing placement mechanisms were not working? Who will select the standards assessed, and how will they be selected? Who will determine appropriate texts used? How will ELL and special education issues be addressed? What will related professional development look like, and who will administer it? How will training for, administering, and scoring of exams be funded?

The consensus among participants was that Smarter Balanced represents one of a host of problematic impositions from non-educators at state and federal levels on educators and students that indicate a sizable public distrust of intellectuals. The result of this initiative will be that students spend much of their learning time in test preparation, that teachers will be given a script that substitutes for good teaching, that computers will be commandeered for testing rather than preparing students to use 21st-century technologies, that barriers will increase between less privileged students and the education necessary for advancement, and that money earmarked for this work will make its way into the pockets of corporate testing services and publishers, not to schools, teachers, or students.

More information on Smarter Balanced is available: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/ and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/standardized-tests-of-tom_n_1680846.html

More information on language arts assessments is available: http://sampleitems.smarterbalanced.org/itempreview/sbac/ELA.htm


Upcoming PD Opportunities

  • November 5-9, see the kickoff  activities for the National Distance Learning Week at https://www.eou.edu/ctl/
  •  November 8, 4-5 pm, 210  Ackerman, Donna Evans, Writing Center Director, will present When the Lines You See are Crow’s Feet: Self-efficacy in Tutoring Nontraditional Student Writers
  • Wednesday Nov 14, noon-1p, 201 Inlow, Brown Bag MOOC Forum,—What are they and why should we pay attention? https://www.eou.edu/ctl/mooc-resources/

Yesterday’s News

  • Gary F. Keller presented “Evaluating and Assessing Adult Student Learning Outcomes: A Quantitative Methodology” at the ICABE Conference in Portland, OR on 10-18-19 and presented the paper at an EOU faculty colloquium on 10-25.