The Discipline Assessment Cycle (DAC) is the process whereby Austin Community College documents the extent to which students have attained the learning outcomes and objectives set before them. It pulls together information at the course- and program-level, with data regarding general education and, where relevant the skills associated with the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS). The framework of the DAC is designed to promote meaningful assessment, while simultaneously providing a single repository for assessment information from across the institution.
A key part of the DAC process is to provide supportive and meaningful feedback to departments regarding their assessment plans and efforts. For the most part, this revolves around issues of documentation. Departmental faculty have always known what it is their students should learn and how to determine if they are achieving the outcomes expected of them. But for purposes of planning and accountability, this needs to be described in a way that makes it clear to those outside the discipline the good work that the faculty are doing and any resources they might need to further promote their students’ success.
The feedback is provided by the Assessment Task Force, a body of over thirty dedicated and trained faculty and staff who pore over the assessment plans, results, and action strategies described in the TracDat system using the DAC Peer Review Rubric.
The ongoing charges of the Assessment Task Force are:
- Review and provide feedback to programs for improving the embedded assessment of Program and Institutional SLOs, including general education competencies.
- Review and provide feedback to programs regarding the improvement plans resulting from analyses of assessment data
- Review and provide feedback to Department/Program Chairs and Area of Study Deans for improving the documentation of student learning outcomes for courses and programs.
- Review applications for changes to the Core Curriculum, and make recommendations to the Curriculum & Programs Committee, as appropriate.
- Provide recommendations to the Curriculum & Programs Committee and others regarding academic assessment data, assessment processes, and their documentation, as appropriate.
Other charges as needed include:
- Examine and, as appropriate, revise the assessment of student learning outcomes (SLO) so as to improve its relevance to and integration with Program Review and other college processes related to budgeting and plans for continuous improvement, including the adoption of software.
- Revisit and revise ACC’s current general education competencies so as to better align them with the Core Curriculum Objectives of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
- Examine and, as appropriate, revise the format for each program’s Curriculum Map that clearly indicates the courses in which Program SLOs and Institutional SLOs (general education competencies) are taught and assessed.
- Recommend a common format or rubric framework for assessment of all Program SLOs and general education competencies (e.g., adoption of the same number of categories of outcomes, e.g., Exemplary, Good, Satisfactory, Needs Improvement).
- Investigate and approve new approaches to general education assessment, particularly those that allow comparisons of student learning across the college and with peer institutions.