Using a Learning Management System to Facilitate Learning Outcomes Assessment

Using a Learning Management System to Facilitate Learning Outcomes Assessment

Steven F. Tello (University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA) and Luvai Motiwalla (University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA.)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-853-1.ch008
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Increased demands for accountability among state and federal policy makers require that colleges and universities improve the process of measuring student learning outcomes. Despite a growing need, there has been limited development of integrated, electronic processes and tools that facilitate assessment of student progress toward program-level learning outcomes. Collecting student course materials, classifying by program and course-level objectives and reporting the results remains a tedious and labor-intensive task. This project demonstrates how course-level assessment data from a learning management system (LMS) can be utilized for program-level outcomes assessment. A pilot system was developed to integrate data from a LMS to provide continuous reporting of program and course-level assessment with minimal additional effort from faculty and students. This chapter shares the authors’ outcomes assessment system development approach, faculty development approach, and the lessons learned from their project, including the challenges confronted during system implementation.
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Over the past decade institutions of higher education have focused increased attention on the assessment of student learning outcomes. In part, this is a reaction to increased calls for accountability in higher education as expressed by various political and competitive forces, encouraged by the debate surrounding the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (Lovett, 2004; Shulock, 2004). However, it also reflects a growing understanding on the part of faculty and administrators regarding the role outcomes assessment plays in both shaping the student learning experience as well as shaping the academic programs and curriculum from which students graduate. Both regional and professional accreditation agencies acknowledge this growing call for accountability and have integrated assessment standards into the accreditation process (AASCB, 2005). Measurement of these broad program-level outcomes requires program administrators, faculty, advisory boards and other constituent groups to determine what metrics constitute mastery or demonstration of a particular skill or accomplishment.

This expanded interest in outcomes assessment, while important and welcomed, creates several challenges for college faculty and administrators. For example, the manual process of monitoring the integration and achievement of learning outcomes within courses and degree programs is typically a labor intensive, paper-based process often driven by accreditation visits and timelines. Faculty and administrators are asked to report which outcomes are addressed by which course activities and how student achievement is assessed. This information, along with sample student work, is then collected by department chairs and deans who organize and present it to visiting accreditation teams. Therefore, there is a need for a systematic and automated approach to linking course level activities and assignments with program goals and institutional mission for assessment purposes.

While assessment as a tool for improving student learning and educational programs offers great promise, existing processes for presenting outcomes assessment and collecting and summarizing student achievement are somewhat limited. In a 2008 report, Eduventures found that 76% of institutions surveyed identified difficulty in collecting and analyzing outcomes data as a “top five challenge” in implementing comprehensive assessment programs. There is a need for a more systematic process and an easier method for linking course level activities and assignments with program and institutional-level learning outcomes (Maki, 2004). Some institutions are experimenting with the use of ePortfolio systems to collect and organize student learning artifacts over the course of their tenure with an institution, and others use dedicated electronic outcomes assessment systems to collect and report on student achievement toward course, program and institutional objectives. However most institutions surveyed by Eduventures had not yet purchased an institutional software system for managing the outcomes assessment process

Although most universities have not purchased dedicated outcomes assessment systems, a growing number already own or license a Learning Management System (LMS) system. Today’s LMS have the ability to capture and store every course activity, whether an exam, assignment, project, or discussion, along with the grades and evaluation of each of these activities. This capability allows the LMS to be used to facilitate the collection, analysis, organization, and reporting of course-level assessment data. The authors of this chapter initiated the use of a LMS system for outcomes assessment in an effort to improve the learning environment of students, to enhance the communication between program administrators and faculty, and to satisfy the reporting needs of their professional accreditation agency. This chapter:

  • Examines the role of the LMS in facilitating the measurement of student learning outcomes,

  • Discusses the technical approach used in adapting an LMS to measure student outcomes assessment,

  • Discusses strategies for facilitating faculty adoption and use of the system,

  • Reviews the challenges confronted and lessons learned from this case study,

  • Discusses future directions in the use of an LMS for outcomes assessment.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Yefim Kats
Chapter 1
Anthony A. Piña
In this chapter, the reader is taken through a macro level view of learning management systems, with a particular emphasis on systems offered by... Sample PDF
An Overview of Learning Management Systems
Chapter 2
Michael Piotrowski
What is an E-Learning Platform?
Chapter 3
Wolfgang Hommel
Once a prototype for a Learning Management System (LMS) has successfully been set up and tested, the demand for putting it into production use... Sample PDF
Security and Privacy Management for Learning Management Systems
Chapter 4
Cerstin Mahlow
In this chapter the author discuss the introduction of an e-learning system to enhance teaching and learning at a university. The focus is on the... Sample PDF
Choosing the Appropriate E-Learning System for a University
Chapter 5
Juley McGourty, Angelica Risquez
On-line environments have been incorporated in the Distance learning programmes of the International Equine Institute (IEI) in order to address... Sample PDF
Technology Enhanced Distance Learning Utilising Sakai CLE and Adobe Connect Pro
Chapter 6
Danilo M. Baylen, Mary Hancock, Carol M. Mullen, Mary Angela Coleman
This chapter focuses on the impact of a change in the use of a learning management system (LMS) at one university. Survey data captured faculty... Sample PDF
Preparing Faculty for a Learning Management System Transition
Chapter 7
Sergey Butakov, Vladislav Shcherbinin
The main objectives of this chapter are to review the state-of-the art in plagiarism detection methods, discuss the most popular software tools... Sample PDF
Plagiarism Detection Tools in Learning Management Systems
Chapter 8
Steven F. Tello, Luvai Motiwalla
Increased demands for accountability among state and federal policy makers require that colleges and universities improve the process of measuring... Sample PDF
Using a Learning Management System to Facilitate Learning Outcomes Assessment
Chapter 9
Daniel T.H. Tan, Adrian D.H. Lu, Sheryl E. Wong
Project work is an established learning activity for students. It is a learner effort-based endeavour towards the higher learning objectives or... Sample PDF
eUreka: A Campus-Wide Project Work Management System to Support Constructivism, Reflection and Collaborative Learning
Chapter 10
Ian Douglas
Much research into educational technology is focused on tools for supporting teaching and learning. In contrast to this work, relatively little... Sample PDF
Improving the Tracking of Student Participation and Effort in Online Learning
Chapter 11
Clark Shah-Nelson
Instant messaging and text chat, online collaborative whiteboards, web conferencing and other synchronous Web 2.0 tools are increasingly finding... Sample PDF
Open Synchronicity for Online Class Support
Chapter 12
Vickie Cook, Kara L. McElwrath
As more and more learning is adapted to the Web 2.0 environment, it becomes imperative that faculty and students have the ability to collaborate... Sample PDF
Leading Toward Improved Collaboration
Chapter 13
Paloma Moreno-Clari, Esteban Sanchis-Kilders
The convergence process initiated by the European Higher Education Space (EHES) has changed the approach to the teaching and learning process... Sample PDF
Integrating New Open Source Assessment Tools into dotLearn LMS
Chapter 14
Nory B. Jones, Christian Graham
As educational budgets continue to shrink, colleges and universities have turned to online course delivery as a means of increasing enrollments. In... Sample PDF
Improving Hybrid and Online Course Delivery Emerging Technologies
Chapter 15
Kam Hou Vat
This chapter investigates the pedagogical issues of student electronic portfolios (e-portfolios) in the context of personalized instruction for... Sample PDF
Developing Student e-Portfolios for Outcomes-Based Assessment in Personalized Instruction
Chapter 16
Ricardo Javier Rademacher Mena
With the modification of the 50/50 rule by the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005, the purely online university has become increasingly... Sample PDF
Best Practices for Teaching and Designing a Pure Online Science Classroom
Chapter 17
Tobias Zimmermann, Karen-Lynn Bucher, Daniel Hurtado
Attendance at classical lectures usually leads to rather poor learning success. A wide variety of studies show that while lectures are as effective... Sample PDF
Hybrid Dialog: Dialogic Learning in Large Lecture Classes
Chapter 18
Vladimir V. Riabov, Bryan J. Higgs
The authors share their experiences in teaching various online computer-science courses (via the Blackboard™ and synchronous web conferencing tools)... Sample PDF
Software Tools and Virtual Labs in Online Computer-Science Classes
Chapter 19
Hao Jiang, John M. Carroll, Craig Ganoe
This chapter discusses a particular pedagogical methodology, case-based learning, and introduces an application that supports case studies. It... Sample PDF
Managing Case-Based Learning with Interactive Case Study Libraries
Chapter 20
Michael F. Beaudoin
The International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (IBSTPI) engaged in a research study in 2007-2009 to survey learners... Sample PDF
Experiences and Opinions of Online Learners: What Fosters Successful Learning
Chapter 21
Kelley Walters, Melanie Shaw, David Long
Drawing on current literature and a survey of online students and instructors from online institutions, the researchers explored the different types... Sample PDF
Distance Learning Courses: A Survey of Activities and Assignments
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