Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
West Chester University’s (WCU) Division of Student Affairs is currently working on a transcript to document students’ learning experiences in co-curricular programs. As part of this effort, faculty and staff asked for rubrics to help them with aligning programs to the learning goals established by student affairs.
“As the person leading assessment for the division, my first step was to examine how our learning goals fit into those outlined in the CAS Student Development and Learning Outcomes, the AAC&U Essential Learning Outcomes, the NACE Career Competencies, the WCU President’s Toolkit, and the WCU General Education Learning Outcomes,” explains Amanda Thomas, WCU’s executive director of assessment and planning.
“This led to some changes in wording for our learning goals.”
Thomas says that the next step was to reconvene the Student Affairs Assessment Council to develop definitions and then the rubrics.
“We relied heavily on the work that had already been done in the field and at the university, and particularly on the AAC&U VALUE Rubrics,” she says.
“We also reached out to the organizations that had done work to ask permission to adapt or adopt their work for our purposes. Most of them wrote back and agreed.”
The group started writing the seven rubrics in June 2018 and published the last one in February 2019. Thomas notes that the process would have taken much longer if WCU did not have the work of the leading organizations as a foundation.
West Chester’s Student Learning Rubrics are used by the faculty and staff within the division of student affairs and other offices that are engaged in developing the co-curricular transcript.
“In our monthly training on creating and assessing learning outcomes, we encourage faculty and staff to use the rubrics as a starting point for developing their learning goals,” Thomas explains.
“The Co-Curricular Transcript Review Committee is also using them to review program applications for the co-curricular transcript. We have published them online for students to review and use as well.”
She points out that the rubrics have made it easier for faculty and staff to create learning outcomes, prepare co-curricular transcript applications, and understand how their programs fit into the larger picture.
The original goal of WCU’s Student Learning Rubrics initiative was to support the co-curricular transcript. However, Thomas points out that even without a transcript, the rubrics are an excellent resource for faculty and staff who are building co-curricular programs.
Thomas offers some recommendations for others interested in developing and using their own student learning rubrics:
- Start with what is already available—This will make it easier. While AAC&U, NACE, and CAS have learning outcomes, there are other frameworks out there. You don’t have to limit yourself. WCU used Northwestern University Student Affairs’ framework for aligning its learning goals to the leading organizations and university works.
- Be patient—Rubrics take time to build, and it is good to have multiple people involved in the process. This helps create buy-in.