Talking ourselves into outcomes : teaching, learning, and equity in California community colleges

This qualitative collective case study explored the experiences of community college faculty members in the social and behavioral sciences and SLO coordinators at community colleges in California as they engaged in student learning outcomes assessment (SLOA). Semi-structured interviews with eight faculty members and five student learning outcomes coordinators revealed common goals among the participants to use education to inform social change. Participation in SLOA led to an invigoration of the teaching experience based on creating strategic dialogue among students in the classroom, faculty within departments, and across divisions within the institutions. Engagement in SLOA led to changes in teaching practice that align with research findings on best practices in higher education and participants perceived themselves to be better teachers as a result. However, participants were reluctant to claim responsibility for student learning or to identify improvements in student learning as a result of SLOA. Still, they were willing to consider the potential of SLOA as a tool to close achievement gaps. Recommendations focus on policy, leadership, and institutional strategies for increasing faculty engagement in SLOA.