Vision Project – AMCOA

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Vision Project is described as, “A unified effort of Massachusetts Public Higher Education to promote the well-being and ensure the future prosperity of our state.”  One major focus is system-wide and campus-level assessment of student learning.

To support these efforts, the AMCOA (Advancing a Massachusetts Culture of Assessment) team was formed, consisting of assessment leaders from each of the Massachusetts public undergraduate campuses. The team meets on a regular basis to share assessment practices, discuss assessment issues, and organize state-wide conferences for professional development related to learning outcomes assessment.    For more information on the Vision Project and AMCOA, see

NECC’s AMCOA representatives are Ellen Wentland and Suzanne Van Wert.  The first meeting was held in May 2011, and the group has met regularly since then.  Information on AMCOA events with NECC involvement are described below.

AY 2013-14 AMCOA Activities

In AY 2013-14, AMCOA colleges and universities organized into regions to facilitate local collaborations and to minimize travel time needed to attend statewide meetings.  Each region was charged with planning and implementing some type of professional development activity, such as a workshop, that would involve faculty members from within the region or statewide.  The goal was to broaden engagement in statewide outcomes assessment efforts.

Northern Essex Community College partnered with Bunker Hill Community College, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, North Shore Community College, Roxbury Community College, Salem State University, and the University of Massachusetts – Boston to form AMCOA Region 3.  We decided to focus on the assignment prompts prepared by faculty, and the extent to which the prompts align with the AAC&U VALUE rubrics criteria being used in state level assessments to evaluate student products submitted in response to those prompts.  The greater the alignment, the more likely that students will exhibit the skills to be rated with those rubrics, resulting in more complete information about students’ skill levels.

The Region 3 group decided to develop Guidelines for each of the skills to be rated in the upcoming fall 2014 state level pilot assessment – namely, Critical Thinking, Quantitative Literacy, and Written Communication.  The Guidelines developed for these focus skills consisted of a set of questions derived from the respective VALUE rubric criteria.  Faculty were to use these questions to analyze assignment prompts provided to them, to determine the extent to which the prompts were explicit and intentional in terms of the demand for students to exhibit the skills described in the rubric criteria.

As a test of the Guidelines, a Faculty Roundtable was held on March 6 at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, with faculty from each of the Region 3 campuses coming together to apply the Guidelines and discuss their work.  Region 3 representatives from each of the campuses facilitated these discussions.

AY 2012-13 AMCOA Statewide Conferences

AY 2011-12 AMCOA Statewide Conferences