Reflections on Valencia’s Learning Assessment Conference

Matt Orourke Blog Catalytic Conversations

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Faculty Using New Tools to Try and Test Outreach, Inspiration, and Instruction
Joining the conversation at Valencia College’s Learning Assessment Conference means that you’ll be diving deep into conversations about student success. Improving learning, program quality, and curricular pathway design are all core dialogues with this group, many driven by the likes of Kay McClenney, Rob Johnstone, John Gardner, Davis Jenkins, and Sandy Shugart. The closing town hall with these folks was an especially interesting reflection on the larger access, equity, and completion initiatives of the last 10 years. I was asked to lead a keynote conversation on the “art and science of student success,” with a focus on how analytics, engagement, and assessment were coming together. After setting the context by exploring how the entertainment, athletic, consumer, and healthcare sectors were using design thinking and deep data science to achieve their missions, we began looking at related efforts in education—especially those of Civitas Learning Partners. To dive deeper into a use case, I was joined on stage by three faculty members working on an Inspire for Faculty pilot program at Valencia College with us. The faculty members included:
  • Brian Macon, Professor, Mathematics, Valencia College, Lake Nona Campus
  • Lisa Macon, Dean, Architecture, Engineering and Technology, Valencia College, West Campus
  • Neal Phillips, Professor, English, Valencia College, East Campus
Each of these faculty members have been in the pilot groups using the Inspire for Faculty App that brings an analytically fueled heat map of student engagement along with tools to power strategic outreach and personalize connections. Inspire_Faculty_overview When asked if having this app resource at their fingertips with real time and predictive data on their students was useful, Lisa Macon argued, “I never want to go back.” They all made the case that having this app added to their teaching toolkit and allowed them to target outreach, “save students” they wouldn’t have typically known were in trouble, and inspire high-achieving students to do better. Best of all, they told stories of how they were using the tool to do their own try-and-test work to see what kinds of outreach and inspiration might work best with different students, including group engagement challenges! Of course, good faculty have long used whatever data available to work their art – including reading body language and tone of voice. The challenge is those kinds of cues aren’t always available online or in blended formats. What was exciting about this conversation with Lisa, Brian, and Neal was the realization that these faculty are adding new information and analysis to the mix to inform their continued student success science and artistry in compelling ways. The learning from this work is going to be interesting!

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