Abstract: Assessing Learning Outcomes Online

Ryan Fowler and Amy Singer

Sunoikisis, an inter-institutional initiative to supplement the curriculum for small classics programs
(sunoikisis.org), offered its first course for advanced students of Latin in the fall of 2000. This
presentation will (1) describe the survey instruments and interview protocols and tools the program
has developed for measuring outcomes, (2) describe the data from the fall semesters of 2013 and 2014,
and (3) discuss how the design of the courses evolved in response to the evaluation process.

In 2002 the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded a multi-year study of the Sunoikisis project by
outside evaluators, who developed additional survey instruments and interview protocols. Following
the completion of that study in 2005 and the transition of the sponsorship of the project from the
Associated Colleges of the South to the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education in
2006, however, the program stopped collecting assessment data from the faculty members and students
involved in the courses, leaving the evaluation of the courses to individual participating institutions.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the project, now sponsored by the Center for Hellenic Studies,
began developing a new program to evaluate the courses over a three-year process. During the first
year, we began working with instructors to determine their impressions of the course outcomes and
learning goals for the students. Through surveys and interviews, the program has collected data about
and faculty members’ understanding of the learning goals for the courses. These interactions with the
director of the assessment program, in turn, focused the participants’ attention on the relationship
between the desired outcomes and the individual components of the course, the content, and
approach.

Prior to the second year of assessment (2014-15), the faculty development and course planning
seminars during the intervening summer months featured a discussion of assessment data collected so
far, with the aim of identifying and describing a revised set of measurable, meaningful learning goals
for the courses offered in the fall semester (2014). In our ongoing effort to then assess these
educational goals in their revised form, we next surveyed both faculty members and (this iteration)
students using a questionnaire that asked about how the course compared to those they offered or took
on campus with regard to time, learning outcomes, and use of technology. Our questionnaire also
inquired about the elements of the courses: the synchronous common sessions; the threaded,
asynchronous discussions; and the on-campus tutorials; as well as our methods of evaluating student
progress.

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