Three members of Quinsigamond Outcomes Research for Excellence (QORE) presented an innovative writing toolkit to a standing-room-only audience at the New England Educational Assessment Network 2016 Fall Forum: Reconstructing Teaching & Learning from Evidence. The annual event took place at the Hogan Campus Center at College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts. The title of the QCC presentation was “Signature Work for General Education: Assignment Design and Assessment Toolkits.”
Ruth Ronan, Amy Beaudry and Gaelan Benway demonstrated the work of an interdisciplinary and cross-functional team of faculty and professional staff that considered ways to support Quinsigamond Community College faculty in their efforts to promote excellent college-level writing. This project may have been inspired by a need to support faculty participating in the MSC, but as the team worked, it drew on best practices in higher education pedagogy, student engagement and assessment, and on emerging tools such as the Degree Qualifications Profile. The toolkit project has become the basis of a new vision for signature work within general education (rather than within majors), a development that can deliver this important component of liberal education to associate degree students.
The result of the team’s work was a backward-designed assignment frame that is adaptable across courses, fields of inquiry, and student learning outcomes at course, program and general education levels. (Backward design is a method of developing curriculum by envisioning the desired end and crafting learning experiences and assessments that build toward that end, in this case, high-quality writing.) To enliven the assignment frame, the team also developed a toolkit containing rubrics, example assignments, and two resource collections (one for faculty and one for students).
The product of these efforts is now included in all Blackboard course shells for faculty to use. It is available to QCC professional staff by request; members of the larger QCC family may view the toolkit at a special login, also by request. (Please contact MSC [at] qcc.mass.edu to request access.)
The team concluded their presentation with a preview of a new signature work toolkit for oral presentations (available in January 2017). Toolkits for visual, project-based and group work are planned for 2017-18.
For more information about the Degree Qualifications Profile, visit the Degree Profile website.