Episode 124 Empowering Student Learning & Assessment: Embracing Inclusive Learning Outcomes in Higher Ed Part 2

Welcome to Digication
Scholars Conversations.

I'm your host, Kelly Driscoll.

In this episode, you'll hear part two of
my conversation with Abby Crew, Assistant

Dean of Academic Planning, Assessment
and Improvement, Curriculum Review and

Innovation at Colorado Mountain College.

More links and information about today's
conversation can be found on Digication's

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Full episodes of Digication Scholars
Conversations can be found on

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I was curious, so I know Digication's
had a long history in supporting

Outcomes-based assessments, um, many
institutions have approached it in,

you know, whether they're collecting
work within individual courses or

more of a kind of cohort approach.

Very often, they may be, you know,
sampling from pools of work and

presenting it to, uh, you know, kind of.

committee based review sort of process
where there's a group of reviewers that

are going through and looking at the work.

And with the introduction of
KORA courses, there'll be more

functionality for performing
assessments within the actual courses.

And I was curious if your institution
is planning, um, To use both kinds

of approaches or one or the other,
what, what might your plans be?

We're not really sure yet.

Um, I did just email your tech support
folks and Jeff yesterday because what

we would like is a template, a universal
template to, um, roll out for all CMC

users where the assignments are preloaded.

Um, the about me section to introduce
yourself and then the knowledge

involvement and application.

that have the AAC&U rubrics
already overlaid on them.

Um, so, previously we were embedding
Digication in each Canvas course, and

we hadn't yet figured out how to do
that more program level, institution

level, uh, assessment, but I think
we're getting someplace now, uh,

with the new KORA build that we can.


We can overlay the template with
the assignments for all CMC users.

So that's exciting.

Um, and we'll see, we'll see what we
learn from there and how we need to

iterate and improve in the future.

So we haven't tried it yet, but
that's the, that's the idea.

That's the plan.

That's the plan.

That's the plan, right?



And, um, I, I think it'll be fun.

You know, whenever we're working
with institutions, you know, there's

always the kind of, um, Initial plan.

And for many, it's the first time
that they've ever had this amount

of kind of data right at their
fingertips that they're able to assess.

There's been a kind of long history of.

You know, certain individuals being
charged with tracking down, uh, evidence

of student learning and not having a way
to just kind of directly access, um, you

know, evidence of what students have done,
already have it mapped to various learning

outcomes and, and have the tools for
different reviewers to be able to access

it, whether they're doing it right within
their, courses or maybe after a semester

or academic year, um, for more program or
institutional level kinds of assessments.

And, um, I was, you know, kind of curious
in your discussions with faculty members,

kind of going back to those initial.

for reflection questions that you gave
them, um, as they were kind of envisioning

what they might hope to see from their
students, were they always kind of

thinking about the The outcome first and
then what students create, or were faculty

members kind of thinking, well, we have,
you know, these signature assignments

or these kind of core experiences that
students have, and then thinking about.

You know, what outcomes do
really align with these?

I know in some conversations we have
with institutions, they've just drafted

new general education outcomes and, um,
or maybe there's certain professional

practice programs that have specific
standards that they have to work toward.

So I was curious in your, um, kind of
work with faculty, you know, and they

may have approached it in different
ways, but how are they kind of, um,

Even getting to the point where they
could clearly see, you know, what it

was that they wanted to collect from the
students, or, you know, what did they

want to know about what the students were
creating that they might not have had

a kind of means or tool to do before?

Both, I will say.

Um, through our, our four
question, um, authentic assessment.

Um, protocol faculty are asked to reflect
on the outcome that they're assessing,

the artifact that they used, and then
how they knew, um, kind of what the

students did or didn't do, kind of what
their benchmark or expectation were.

And then improvements in the future.

And so the evidence that we've created
or that we've collected to answer that

question is that, um, improvements, uh,
answers to the improvements question are

both, I need to scrap that assignment.

And, I need to better articulate
how this assignment aligns

with this learning outcome.

So, like, we have received answers
both end, um, which is great.

And so, also, I, I really do rely
heavily on the work of Mary-Ann

Winkelmes, I'm not, Wyn, I'm not saying
her name correctly, I'm, I apologize.

But she has the framework for
transparency and teaching and learning.

And so we share that with all of our
faculty to help them think through.

The assignments that they're creating and
how they align with the student learning

outcomes, um, both at the course level
and at the institutional level, um, so

that either they can change some of the
language in their assignment or they can

tweak part of their assignments as well.

That's great.

And when you're having these
conversations, is it something that, um,

family members are doing kind of remotely
and then coming back and reporting on it?

Or is it something that's done more
in Collaboration with each other.

Again, both end.

So we have 11 campuses across like
200 square miles in mountainous

Colorado with passes and canyons
and everything in between.

So, um, our organizational
structure is a little different.

Uh, we often don't have any full time
faculty in some of our departments.

Uh, large two thirds of our
classes are taught by adjuncts.

Um, many in area high schools as well.

So when we are able to come
together, uh, as a faculty body,

it's really, uh, a special experience
because so often we are an N-of-1.

Um, and we do try to share our information
as broadly as we can, which includes, um,

roadshows and a lot of effort on our part
and also virtually in leveraging, um.

virtual meetings to bring folks together.

So kind of all of the above.


Both on the campus and
within the department.

That's great.

And it sounds like, and this may be a big
part of your role too, that there seems to

have been this kind of, um, culture that's
been created where faculty members do feel

comfortable sharing that they may not have
all of the answers at the, at the onset.

So there's still this kind of open
dialogue about, you know, what, what

assignments they may have that are
working assignments that they have that.

Maybe aren't working yet or that they
had high hopes for, but need to be

tweaked in order to get the kind of
results that they're looking for.

And I was curious, you know, is
that something that's always been

kind of in existence since you've
been at Colorado Mountain College?

Or do you feel like it's something that
maybe is starting to emerge because of the

conversations that have been happening?

around the general education outcomes
or institution outcomes and maybe

some of the changes that have
been happening as a result of more

integration of the high impact practices.

I think that all change starts
with relationship building.

Um, and I have been at Colorado
Mountain College for 12 years.

Um, and I am in year two of
my brand new eight title.

Eight word title.

So, um, prior to, um, this
position that I am in now, I

was an adjunct faculty member.

I was also department chair.

So, I had an understanding of the
inner workings of the institution.

I also had relationships with many
of the faculty as department chair.

So, um, I think that their, like,
COVID also changed pedagogy in so many

ways where You know, there was trust
building and there was vulnerability

and there was a disclosure of like,
I have no idea what I'm doing.

Can we all help each other?

And the students feel the same way.

And so I think.

That when we are able to model
vulnerability and we're able to show

up in these ways that, that cultivate
trust and, and it's safe to, to fail

and to iterate and improve, um, then we
all learn and grow and our students and

really our own professional practice,
um, is to benefit from it, right?


It's, I would say it's not new, I
would also say it's based on a long

history of relationship cultivation.

And I was curious too, so in your
own teaching, uh, you mentioned

that classes just started yesterday.

But thank you for, you know,
spending time with me right at

the beginning of the semester.

Um, so I was curious, is that
something that yokind of u speak

to when you're working with your
students also or maybe, you know,

is that something that informs your
approach as a, as an educator as well?

For sure.

And as I shared earlier, I always
think of the hair club for men

quippy title, like I'm not just
the president, I'm a user too.

Um, so when I kind of wear the
admin hat of like, you should

have ePortfolio in your class.

Here's how awesome it is.

Here's how I used it in my class, right?

Like I, in my new role, I have
the privilege of teaching one

class a semester and they are my
very favorite classes to teach.

Um, and I get to try out new things
and see what fails and hear from

students about how to improve my
instruction and or tweak an assignment.

Um, and that.

I think goes a long way
because I am, I'm in it.

I'm like in it with the faculty
doing what the faculty, what

I'm asking them to do as well.

So we can all learn and grow together.

And so what are some of the things that
have happened in, with your students as a

result of using ePortfolios in your own?


So I've had students, um, really
excited to share their learning with

their family and friends outside
of the space of the classroom.

Um, I have students doing just remarkable
projects and here is a platform

for them to celebrate their work.


Uh, that's been fun.

I haven't yet heard of a student
getting a job from ePortfolio,

but just wait, I know it's coming.

Uh, our business faculty are super
excited to integrate ePortfolio in all

of their internship classes this fall.

So I know that it will go far and
wide in job placement as well.

I just don't have the data on that yet.

Check back with me next year.

Oh, yeah, we should chat again.

Um, and we have some other really great
conversations that'll be published soon

uh, about internship specific kinds
of work that are happening at other

campuses as well, so we should definitely
um, stay in touch on that front.

Um, and I was curious if there was
anything that Maybe surprised you, um,

in what some of your students might
have shared within their e portfolio,

whether it was, um, maybe some kind
of challenge that they had had or, and

you don't have to talk about, you know,
specific students, but was there, have

there been any kinds of reflections that
Made you kind of step back and say, oh,

wow, you know, this is something that
you know, you hadn't really anticipated

but that the the students kind of brought
into their story about their Experience

whether it was something happening at the
institution or or outside Not yet is my

answer to that question And the reason
I think it's not yet happened is because

my classroom Um, I strive to cultivate
a space of belonging, and so I invite,

we started class yesterday with students
sharing the story of their name, and so

that's just how we kick off a semester.

That's our icebreaking activity.

Um, and so, students have reflections
almost weekly, and so by the time

they are, um, uh, Um, experiencing the
Digication platform, I have a pretty

solid relationship with my students.

So I've not yet had a surprise, that's
not to say that it won't happen, um, but

weekly I am surprised by my students.

And so because I think they have,
um, a multitude of opportunity to

share of themselves throughout this
semester and not just in this like

culminating ePortfolio experience,
um, I've not yet been surprised.

But I, again, I'm sure
it'll happen at some point.

Yeah, but that's really interesting
because you have the, this kind of

reflective process built in weekly
that you are learning quite a bit about

them as the semester kind of unfolds.

So that makes a lot of sense.

Um, what are some of the kinds
of reflective prompts that

you use in your own teaching?

And so very quick reflective
prompts at the end, like our exit

ticket is the muddiest point.

What, what made absolutely
no sense this week.

Um, and so we'll start class the
following week with the muddiest point.

Um, and I'll do a word cloud, uh,
with Mentimeter of like aha moments,

like what stuck with you from the day.

And so even just those like super
quick reflective activities.

Um, helps me stay connected
to the students and also the

content and my pedagogy, right?

Like in those two very short prompts, I'm
able to assess a lot about the student

learning, my delivery of the information.

And, um, sort of the, the impact
of that content on the students.



I can imagine, you know, if you're
finding that a majority of the students

had a similar muddiest point, but
it's good to know that then so that

you can come in and support them.


And I will always say like, if it's
one or two students, That's kind of

on you, but we'll meet in the middle.

If it's everybody, that's on me.

All good information.


All good information.


And so when they're sharing these
kinds of reflections, is it something

that they're, um, sharing openly
with each other or are those things

that are just shared with you?

How are you kind of approaching that?

A little bit of both.

Um, so in WebEx, they can, um,
drop in the chat a muddiest point

that is connected to their name.

Um, also in the Mentimeter,
it is anonymous.

So I will, um, I will vary, uh,
how I solicit that feedback.

Uh, it is helpful for me to be
able to connect with the students

one on one and know who you are.

They are, if I can support them.

Um, Also, sometimes students don't,
don't feel safe or secure, um, and would

share more in an anonymous, uh, venue.

So, like a Padlet, too, we can do.

I, I employ, um, a number of different
technologies in my room to solicit

feedback, both anonymous and identified.


And we haven't touched on this too
much, but you mentioned that, um,

there's advisors that are involved
with the ePortfolio as well.

Could you describe that a little bit?


I, I, this is all
theoretical and ideation.

And again, check back with me in a year
when we have, uh, I have an article

sort of percolating in my brain and I
need the data to be able to write it.

Um, about how integrating ePortfolio
at the level of an advisor, um, helps

engagement with ePortfolio, helps
advisors support their students, and

helps students make connections between
classes, um, and beyond classes.

So, I really see it as a rich opportunity
for engagement, and I will say.

Um, there is one scholar at IUPUI
who's doing this right now, Rachel

Swinford, um, and I have brought it
up at the AAC&U ePortfolio Institute.

And it's kind of a burgeoning field to
engage student services in ePortfolio.

And to me, it makes all
the sense in the world.

So, um, we are looking at holistic
advising, um, and kind of reimagining

our advising as they align with our
academic and career communities.

We are just now becoming a
guided pathway institution.

And so all of these changes
are kind of the perfect storm.

to add this tool to help support
and capture student learning.

Um, so again, like we, we haven't
seen it take off yet, but we

have a lot of interest and
excitement, which is wonderful.

That's like first level of change is
you need some interest and excitement.

Um, and then we'll, we'll sort of have
a soft scale up of implementation.

Um, and then.

We'll evaluate how it's going
and, um, iterate on improve

and improve as we go along.

So, um, again, in, in my brain, it
makes all the sense in the world.

And I just created a, an assignment sheet
that I'm happy to share out with you.

And it, it kind of walks students
through semester by semester.

And so prior to meeting an advisor,
Uh, inviting students to create their

ePortfolio, to populate their About Me
section, um, their pictures, artwork,

um, I'm looking at my assignment
sheet right now, under the course tab.

They can list the courses that they want
to take, any co curriculars that they're

involved with or want to be involved with.

Any achievements that they're coming
to us with, and then this is just

an opportunity for an advisor to
get to know their advisees, um, on a

deeper level and allow their advisees
to share of themselves in like a

really, I think, kind of special way.

And so then upon the completion of
their first semester, the invitation

is to upload an artifact of their work
that aligns with the Institutional

Student Learning Outcome of Knowledge
and then explain how and why that

artifact, uh, demonstrates one of
the competencies within knowledge

involvement and application.

Um, and I kind of walk through those
instructions semester by semester.

So the advisor and the ePortfolio
is that through thread for

an entire student experience.

So it's like a living curriculum.

And the other thing that I love is
that it allows for growth in real time.

So a student can leave for
semesters later and look back at

who they were when they came in.

And that timestamp is like.

demonstrable growth, right?

Like, I have a five year old who
grows every night, and this is

like an 18 year old's trajectory
or a 44 year old's trajectory.

Um, and they can say like, yeah,
that was worth my time and money.

Look how much I've changed
because of this experience.

Like, that's, that's kind of awesome.

And that's what we hope for.



Well, that's wonderful.

And I do think, you know, in terms of
going back to relationship building

again, that the, for the advisor to
have all of that information about the

student, you know, maybe even before they
have some of those first conversations.

I think would just make the, it's so
much more meaningful on both sides.

Um, I know very often that
students have very little kind

of face time with their advisors.

And, you know, if they can get certain
things kind of, Embedded into their

conversation before they're even together.

I mean, I think it could
just go so much further.

And that is my hope that it's less
of a transactional experience and

more of a transformative experience.

Um, it also allows for kind of the
affinity groups, um, especially

within our pathways right now
are advising models really.

campus based, and so there's
some limitations with that.

There's some assets to that as well.

Um, but this opens up an opportunity
for students to find other students

who have similar trajectories and
or different ones and can leverage,

um, strengths and weaknesses
within those affinity groups too.

So it's just another way.

to get to know our students and to
celebrate all their accomplishments.

They're amazing.

They impressed me every single day.

Every day.


Oh, I feel that too.

Whenever we're looking at these
ePortfolios that they've created,

it's just incredibly inspiring.

And, um, I was curious if you could
share a little bit about how Um, your

institution approaches the pathways.

Every institution has a, a somewhat unique
kind of story to tell in that, that area.

So we are part of, uh, well, our
director of student services said that

he started 20 years ago with this,
but I'm not really sure about that.

We have a board of trustees resolution
as of last year, which was really

exciting to move the work forward.

Um, so we have seven academic and career
communities, and what we were trying

to do within those academic and career
communities was, um, align kind of the

stackable credentials, if you will.

So we have certificate programs that
share kind of a common core that's

scaffold into an associate's programs
that feed into a bachelor's program.

So students can explore.

with guardrails and not waste time,
credit, or money in their exploration.

So that was our approach
to our guided pathways.

And And we have, um, we have a model
set up right now, and certainly we

will, um, continue to examine and
improve upon the alignment that we

have both within the academic and
career communities and between them.

And so we're looking in our
GenEd core right now as well.

There's many institutions that are in
that same position, and that's part

of why this work is so important.

And I think it's bringing a lot.

into the light that needs to be
reviewed for the benefit of the

students and the institution.

So it's all part of the process.

You know, I think that, you know,
I would like to say the majority

of institutions are well meaning
and there to serve students.

And, um, and along the way,
sometimes these things get

created and may not have the.

Level of attention that they deserve
and it's important to just kind of

have those conversations and keep,
you know, moving the, the institutions

forward and innovating in the, the way
that your institution is continuing

to do, uh, under your leadership.

I think it's a, you know,
a very honest and open.

The conversation that a lot
of institutions, um, need

and, and, and should have.

So it's, it's like you change one thing
and then you realize all the other things

that kind of need improvement as well.

I mean, we started with painting a
closet and we went to a bathroom remodel,

you know, like it is, uh, I know that
well, that is what this feels like.

And honestly, I think that some of
that, um, cascade effect is brought

to light because of Digication and
because of those aha moments that we're

having when we see things structurally
that, that could also benefit student

success and equitable outcomes.

And so like, how can we
turn a blind eye to that?

That, you know, now we are seeing
it in a way we never did before.

So we're grateful for that vision.

And somewhat exhausted about the
work that is before us as well.

I thought we fixed that problem and
here's another one to be addressed.

Oh, that sounds really
familiar in my world, too.

Uh huh.

But it does, it does keep us You know,
being active, creative, and, uh, really,

you know, working toward that, um, common
goal to, to make education better, make

the student experience better, and,
um, hopefully make their experiences

better in their communities and.

Um, you know, without sounding too
lofty and, you know, improve the world.

I don't, I don't think that's too lofty.

There's work to be done.

Thank you so much, Abby.

I, I really appreciate, uh, you.

Joining me today and, you know,
sharing everything that your

institution is working towards
around ePortfolios and reflective

pedagogy, high impact practices.

You're doing so many wonderful
things and I would love to, uh, set

up a time, you know, a year from
now, um, to kind of get a pulse on.

You know, how things expanded, you
know, in, so are you starting year

two or this is going to be the
beginning of year three, isn't it?

We are starting year two.

Just starting year two.

Gosh, you've done so much already.

So yes, we should talk again in a year.

And, um, and then we can follow up with
listeners on, uh, everything that you

were able to accomplish and using some
of the new course and assessment features

that are available in Digication KORA.

And, um, all of the.

Wonderful ePortfolios that your
students are going to be continuing

creating as your, um, kind of
implementation expands at the campus.

And I'm really excited about this,
um, incorporation of the advising.

I've also always felt like it
has such a wonderful fit within,

you know, any kind of student
support, student services oriented.

areas within the campus
that has a lot of value.

I think anytime students are able to
share their story and lend to that kind

of relationship building in different
parts of the institution, the better.

So thank you again for,
for joining me today, Abby.

And you are welcome.

Thanks for having me.

Talk to you soon.


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