Assessment Awards Luncheon
March 2, 2005
On March 2nd. the Office of Assessment held the second annual Assessment Awards Luncheon to recognize departments, programs, and individuals who have contributed to the student assessment process at UNK. The speaker for the event was Senior Vice Chancellor Finnie Murray who discussed the importance of assessment for accreditation and for the success of the university. Awards were presented in the following areas:
General Studies Assessment - recognition of the continuing and exemplary efforts of these departments in collecting and reporting student performance data for their General Studies courses.
Research on Assessment - recognition of participation in the UNK Platte Valley Assessment Conference in April 2005 and for presentations and publications on assessmetn at the regional and national levels.
Support of Assessment at UNK - recognition of individual's efforts to facilitate student assessment at UNK
Exemplary Contributions to Assessment- recognition of the department whoexemplifies the assessment process in collecting and reporting assessment data.
Rapid response Award- recognition of the college that had 100% compliance in meeting the October deadline for Assessment reports in 2005.
College of Education
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UNK Assessment Program Adopts New Strategic Plan
Glen Powell, Director of Assessment
The UNK Assessment Committee recently adopted a new strategic plan for guiding the further development of assessment at UNK for 2006-08. The first strategic plan for assessment was developed in 2001 by Dr. James Roark when he was the Senior Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs. That strategic plan was used to guide efforts in developing assessment processes currently in place at UNK. In January 2005, the Director of Assessment requested that a subcommittee of the UNK Assessment Committee review the 2001 strategic plan and compare the developments in assessment from 2001 to 2005 with the purpose of updating the plan to reflect current and future assessment priorities for UNK.
The subcommittee began its work by reviewing the North Central Association’s criteria related to assessment and program development that became effective January 1, 2005 to determine how closely the current assessment program reflects the new criteria. The subcommittee then analyzed the 2001 strategic plan for assessment to determine accomplishments and continued needs. The consensus of the subcommittee was that an updated strategic plan was needed that emphasized continuing needs and reflected the recently implemented North Central Association’s accreditation criteria. Three priorities were identified.
The first priority is to continue to emphasize principles of assessment “best practice”. The collection of valid and reliable data for decision-making purposes is dependent on the development and implementation of effective assessment tools and procedures. This priority reflects the importance of systematically reviewing assessment practices being implemented so that the most accurate data about student learning is obtained.
The second priority focuses on the importance of using the assessment data to assist with making decisions regarding establishment of instructional priorities, facilitating planning, and aligning resources to foster enhanced instruction and learning. The only reason for conducting assessment is to use the data to “close the loop” in regards to planning. This priority is the major focal point of the North Central Association’s criteria that are now in effect. UNK will be evaluated by the next accreditation team by its success in implementing this priority. An analysis of the annual assessment reports submitted this fall semester suggests that approximately 50% of departments are beginning to utilize the data in decisions regarding their programs.
The third priority focuses on utilizing benchmarking standards as a methodology for defining quality of student work and establishing targets for successfully meeting program outcomes. Adoption of this strategy will enable faculty to clearly define their own success levels and facilitate planning.
In closing, these priorities will guide implementation of initiatives during the next two years. The intent is to further promote the relevance and utility of assessment and have UNK on track for its next accreditation visit.
UNK Assessment Strategic Plan For 2006-08
UNK Assessment Program Priorities
1. Use effective assessment practices to evaluate and optimize student learning in all settings as an essential aspect of a vibrant university seeking to meet the needs of the 21st century student.
2. Use a continuous systematic assessment and data analysis process to assist the establishment of priorities, facilitate planning, and align resources to improve programs and enhance student learning.
3. Implement benchmarking standards to define, measure, and enhance student learning.
1. Develop a unified approach for systematically assessing student learning in all settings. (P #1)
2. Support implementation of effective assessment practice at all levels (campus-wide to individual courses). (P #1)
3. Promote continuous systematic assessment and utilization of data that assists with strategic planning processes. (P # 2)
4. Develop benchmarks linked to student outcomes which enhance program development and student learning. (P #3)
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Student Assessment Committee Update
The UNK Student Assessment Committe has focused on developing and administering a campus-wide online student survey for Academic Advising and setting up student focus groups on General Studies to provide in depth information about student attitudes. Members of the committe involved in these activities during the Spring semester include Megan Boss, Chris Denton, Tom Schlund, Adam Sevenker, Andrew Hutchison, Jennifer Beinhoff, and Steven Middleton, chair of the committee.
The online student survey of Academic Advising was developed in conjunction with the office of Academic Advising. The survey will be sent out to students the second week in April and results will be provided to faculty, students, administration and staff before the end of April. Click on this link Student Academic Advising Survey.doc to access a copy of the Academic Advising Survey. Sice Academic Advising has a great impact on student success at UNK, the results of the survey will provide insights into how well the process is working.
The committee is also conducting follow-up focus groups with students from each college, during March and April, to get detailed information about students' perceptions of the General Studies program at UNK. The questions for the focus groups include:
What is the purpose of General Studies?
How difficult were your General Studies courses compared to other courses you have taken?
What are some of the strengths of the current General Studies program/courses?
What are some of the problems with the current General Studies program/courses?
What changes would you like to see in the current General Studies program?
The information obtained in the focus groups will be used by the General Studies Council and by the GS Roundtables as UNK explores changes to the current program.
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Poster Presentation at the Platte Valley Assessment Conference 2005
Examining Exams: Learning Objectives as a Function of Course Level
Theresa Houlihan and B. Jean Mandernach, Ph.D.
The purpose of this study was to analyze the cognitive complexity targeted by various courses at UNK as measured through the depth of understanding required by typical course assessments.
Bloom et al. (1964) proposed that various intellectual behaviors and cognitive abilities are utilized in the learning process. As such, an educational taxonomy was constructed to classify the different levels of a student's mastery of a particular topic according to the depth of understanding. Bloom's Taxonomy identified six hierarchical levels. This classification syste can be used to analyze items that appear on classroom tests to identify the degree of abstraction measured on the tests. Specifically, the study examines whether upper division courses utilize exam items which measure higher order learning as defined by Bloom's Taxonomy.
We hypothesize that as the level of course increases, a greater number of higher order learning items will be present on the exams.
Professors from three departments in CNSS submitted current exams. 22 total exams were submitted for the study with 11 lower level exams and 11 upper level exams.
Analysis utilized an assessment rubric based on Bloom's Taxonomy that identified the relevant process verbs, product objectives, and terminology commonly associated with each level of understanding. Items were categorized based on the level of learning the question mandated.
There appeared to be a trend overall for lower level courses to utilize exams that included an overwhelming number of items that targeted Knowledge-based skills. Upper division courses had a comparatively decreased reliance on Knowledge abilities (with Evaluation skills accounting for a larger percentage of items compared to lower level courses. This provided partial support for the hypothesis. Based on the results, we conclude that upper division courses are utilizing exams which measure higher learning objectives as defined by Bloom's Taxonomy, although the overall emphasis of basic Knowledge is consistent regardless of class level.
To access the full poster presentation- Full Poster
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