Across the country, education institutions are shifting their focus from teaching to learning and from head count to student success.
It is not enough to put students in seats and move them through their classes. Public K-12 schools and colleges need to help assure that students graduate, prepared to go on to higher education or secure meaningful employment.
As MCC moves toward renewal of its accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission in 2012, it has taken another step to help assure student success.
MCC applied to and was accepted into the HLC's Academy for Assessment of Student Learning. Admission to the academy is limited and gained through a competitive application process.
This four-year HLC academy helps colleges develop, refine and implement an action portfolio of projects that will allow them to assess and improve student learning. Participants in the academy come together biannually to share their plans and progress, and they utilize an electronic network to share resources, ideas and support for one another.
During the four years of academy participation, MCC faculty will work with mentors from HLC to raise the bar at MCC for measuring student learning at all levels from the individual student level to the institutional level.
Our work at the Academy will contribute to the improvement of student learning by moving the faculty and staff beyond what they intuitively know about student learning to a well-documented, data supported evaluation of what is actually occurring with student learning.
It will help us recognize strengths and weaknesses in our student experiences, both academic and non-academic. It will help us identify barriers to student learning and identify ways to break down these barriers.
In the fourth year of participation, the institutions prepare an impact report and participate in a results forum to showcase their accomplishments, share effective practices and define the work they will do following the academy.
The goal will be to move the institution into a cycle of continuous improvement of the student experiences that support student learning. Knowledge is compounding at an ever-increasing rate and remaining competitive will demand a new paradigm. It is no longer adequate to teach students a set of facts, skills or processes. We have to move education to a learning-centered structure so our graduates will be able to continue learning as their jobs, technology and occupations evolve.
The Academy experience and the entire accreditation renewal process will help MCC prepare for that task.