Skills such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving are frequently cited as intended learning outcomes for STEM degree programs. While these skills, sometimes referred to as workplace or process skills, are highly valued, they are rarely explicitly assessed in the classroom. Assessment serves two purposes: (1) it provides a measure of achievement, and (2) it facilitates learning. The types of assessment used by an instructor also telegraph to students what is valued in a course. However, in many instances, the lack of alignment between instructional methods and assessment detracts from the added value of engaged student learning environments.
This NSF IUSE project focuses on the development of resources for instructors that facilitate providing feedback to students and informing the instructor as to the effectiveness of their instructional strategies in supporting process skill development. This feedback supports adoption of evidence-based active learning strategies that foster skill development in addition to content knowledge. To date, resources include rubrics for multiple skills to assess either student written work or student classroom interactions, as well as an implementation guide to support optimal use of these resources. These resources have been created and refined by a multidisciplinary team using a collaborative development approach to ensure validity, reliability, and utility in multiple STEM disciplines. They have been classroom tested in a variety of courses (including both upper and lower division courses) and at a broad range of institutions. Data collection from each implementation is a multifaceted process in order to gain feedback from faculty as well as to gather artifacts for further study to create the implementation guide. The initial work of the project has generated valuable insights on rubric development and implementation that will inform not only the drafting of further rubrics, but also the crafting of the implementation guide and faculty development workshops. For example, it is critical to familiarize even experienced faculty with an operationalized view of process skills in their STEM classrooms, and to provide opportunities for them to visualize what a process skill would look like in student interactions or student written work.
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