$40,000 software upgrade to help with student learning outcomes

Pierce College‘s Academic Senate approved the College Outcomes Committee’s (COC) recommendation of  eLumen as the college’s new student learning outcomes software.

The senate voted 26 yes, two no and two abstentions at its final meeting of the semester on Dec. 1 in the Great Hall.

“We think eLumen is the better choice,” Cleveland said.

The eLumen software will cost the college about $40,000 up front, according to Monique Cleveland, instructor of english and Academic Senate secretary. It will cost an additional $1,000 per year, according to Oleg Bespalov, dean of institutional effectiveness, said.

The money to purchase the initial software would come from the Student Success and Support Program fund.

“This is going to be purchased under special funds,” Kraus said.

The eLumen software will allow for more configuration than the current software the college uses, Student Learning Outcomes (SLO).  It will also be easier to maintain with updates, and will be more secure.

Though SLO has been functional, it’s on its last legs, according to Beth Benne, director of the student health center.

“It’s near dead,” Benne said. “It’s terminal.”

The college needed to improve upon SLO to meet the standards of the accreditation renewal with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).

“They expect us to provide data,” said assistant professor of modern languages, and accreditation representative, Margarita Pillado.

The Outcomes Committee discussed two software options, TracDat and eLumen.

Pillado said she was “perfectly comfortable” with either option. But 90 percent of the COC said they thought eLumen was more user friendly than TracDat.

Even though the COC overwhelmingly recommended eLumen, either it or TracDat would have been an improvement to SLO.

SLO allowed faculty to gather general information about class objectives and their outcomes, but not individual students or groups of students.

SLO was also not very secure, as its online portal did not require a user name or password. Anyone could access it and make changes to class outcomes.

“Anything is better than what we have right now,” Assistant Vice President Larry Kraus said.

To compile accurate outcomes assessment data, the COC recommended that assessments be updated every semester.

“It seemed like assessing every class, every semester, was suggested without fully vetting it,” said instructor of english David Gonzales.

In order to get the disaggregated data needed for accreditation, the sample needed to be much larger in order for it to make sense.

That is why it became apparent to do total assessment, according to Gonzales.

“We need 100 percent sample,” Cleveland said.

In order to meet AACJC expectations, the committee wanted Pierce to have a uniform, secure and user-friendly outcomes system.

“Visually, and for the needs of this campus, and for the faculty members in particular, it seems like the best way to go,” Gonzales said.

However, some instructors wanted to be sure the new software‘s data would not be used against them.

Cleveland assured committee members the software will assess student outcomes only, and not the teachers who provide the data.

“They won’t be able to see the actual names of the instructors,” Cleveland said.