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Competency-based Assessment at New Century College


Presentation at ePorfolio 2006, Oxford, England, October 12, 2006

Presentation at ePorfolio 2006, Oxford, England, October 12, 2006

Published in Education , Business
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  • 1. Competency-based Assessment At New Century College: Towards Reflection Within The Responsive Learning Organization Darren Cambridge George Mason University
  • 2. Overview
    • Universities as ethical learning organizations
    • Competencies in reflective assessment
    • Portfolios and competencies at New Century College
    • The role of digital space
  • 3. Flexibility vs. Commitment
    • Dual outcomes of reflective learning
      • Flexibility and accountability
      • Integrity
    • Being forced to be constantly flexible and mobile in the workplace can make it difficult to craft coherent life narratives, make long term commitments
  • 4. Lack of integrity in the Learning Organization
    • “ Learning organization” discourse emphasizes flexibility and assumes this also supports integrity, ignoring the tension
    • There’s little space for dialog between individual and institutional goals: They’re assumed to be the same
    • Universities can provide an alternative model of how organizations and individuals interact
  • 5. The University as an Ethical Learning Organization
    • Help students discover and document what’s important to them about learning, based on evidence
    • Put those individual articulations in conversation with organizational understanding
    • Student inputs must have real influence on decision making
  • 6. A New Role for Competencies
    • Old: Matching performance to a pre-defined set of outcomes
    • New: Capture standards all stakeholders value as enacted in practice and examining alignment of alignment of both student and programmatic performance
  • 7. Competencies in Organizational Learning
    • Old: Articulating expectations to students
    • New: Means for mutually accountable connection between individual and organizational learning
    • Boundary objects: “Boundary objects are objects that are both plastic enough to adapt to local needs and constraints of the several parties employing them, yet robust enough to maintain a common identity across sites” (Leigh Star 1989)
  • 8. Reflective Assessment
    • Old: Objectivist/utilitarian vs. subjectivist/intuitionist approaches (Gray 2002)
    • New: Reflective assessment
      • Learning complex and situated
      • Judgment based in embodied expertise
      • Students as authoritative informants about their own learning (Yancey 1998)
  • 9. New Century College
    • Integrative studies college of George Mason University, founded 1994
    • Approximately 800 students within a University of about 30,000
    • Learning community model
    • Connecting the classroom to the world: internships, service learning, study abroad, co-curricular activities
    • Nine competencies run throughout the curriculum
  • 10. NCC Competencies
    • Communication
    • Critical Thinking
    • Strategic Problem Solving
    • Valuing
    • Group Interaction
    • Global Understanding
    • Effective Citizenship
    • Aesthetic Awareness
    • Information Technology
  • 11. Portfolios at NCC
    • Multiple iterations of electronic portfolios throughout the curriculum
      • First-year portfolios
      • Course portfolios
      • Graduation portfolios
    • Common structure using competencies
      • Integrative section
      • Sections focusing on selected essays
      • Looking forward
  • 12. Graduation Portfolio
    • No predefined standard for what constitutes satisfactory performance in each competency
    • Students exposed to many models and standards through coursework and experiential learning
    • Students redefine each competency, beginning with “official definition”
      • Synthesizing multiple perspectives
      • Integrating evidence from own experience
      • Taking ownership and planning for the future
  • 13. Portfolio outcomes
    • Demonstrate learning power (Broadstreet 2006) or learning competencies
      • Key affordance of the portfolio genre (Meeus, Petegem, and Looy 2006)
    • Input to a community conversation about what it means to be an educated person in the 21st Century
      • Competencies are means of connection
      • Analysis of student competency essays and evidence a central feature of program review
  • 14. Embracing the digital
    • NCC portfolio practice evolved from a print model, still has many print-like characteristics
    • Beginning to utilize the capabilities of digital portfolio space
    • Two examples
      • Individual: Contextualizing portfolios through concept maps
      • Organizational: Capstone Conversations portfolio
  • 15. Concept Map Portfolios
    • Holistic visual representation of learning experiences related to the course through linking
      • Competencies
      • Course goals
      • Course concepts
      • Samples of work
    • Reflective writing focused on articulating relationships, the core element of portfolios
  • 16.  
  • 17. Capstone Conversations
    • Senior capstone experience
      • Taken by all seniors
      • Site of individual graduation portfolio composition
      • Key site for community conversation about what it means to be an educated person
    • Capstone Conversations
      • Student-facilitated panel discussions of each NCC competency, simultaneous with individual portfolio writing
      • Involve students, NCC faculty members, NCC alumni, guests from across the University
      • Influence shared understanding of the competencies that shapes the curriculum
  • 18. Capstone Portfolios
    • Capstone Conversation Portfolio
      • Audio of panels
      • Synthesis of panel outcomes and competency research by facilitators
      • Collection of student competency essays and evidence
      • Space for ongoing discussion and community memory
    • Capstone Course Portfolio
      • Working portfolio using MediaWiki
      • Includes course materials, reflection
      • Interlinked with public capstone conversation
  • 19. Learn More
    • Darren Cambridge [email_address]
    • New Century College
      • Competencies:
      • Graduation portfolio: