Assessment Awards Luncheon
On February 7th, 2007 the Office of Assessment held the third 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:
Use of Assessment Data – recognition of departments/programs who submitted high quality assessment reports that emphasized how assessment results were used in making changes in their departments.
- Social Work
- Communication Disorders
- Political Science
- Instructional Technology
- Gifted Education
Research on Assessment- recognition for presentations and publications on assessment at the regional and national levels.
Most Improved Assessment Reporting
- Graduate Program-English
Rapid Response Award - recognition of the college that was the first to have 100% compliance in meeting the October deadline for assessment reports in 2006.
Exemplary Contributions to Assessment - recognition of the department who exemplifies the assessment process in collecting and reporting assessment data.
- Department of Industrial Technology
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.
- English Composition
- Political Science
back to top
Update on Our Progress in Anticipation of North Central Association (NCA) Visit
On April 28-29, 2008, three Higher Learning Commission (HLC) evaluators will visit UNK for a focused visit. The purpose of this visit is to evaluate progress in assessment of student learning outcomes including assessment in distance-learning programs (Link to 2004 NCA report). One member of the evaluation team will be here to determine accreditation for the online courses/programs.
On the assessment website there is now a link to a page called NCA 2008 that has been created to house all of the key assessment information for the visit. During the 2004 visit, the areas identified for evaluation in the focused visit were:
- Faculty commitment to assessment
- Stable infrastructure to support assessment
- Assessment of Distance Learning
- Assessment of General Studies
- Assessment of Writing Intensive
- Assessment of Cultural Diversity
- Recognition of exemplary assessment practices
Evidence of progress in each of these areas will be presented on the website. The site is under construction and new information is being added regularly. The website will be the primary tool for evaluators to review what has happen in the last four years at UNK.
In preparation for our upcoming NCA assessment focused visit and to make departmental assessment processes at UNK transparent to interested audiences (students, parents, etc.), we are removing the password protection from the departmental assessment reports posted on our website. We emailed each of the department/program assessment contacts to inform them that password protection would be removed. Departments who would like to retain password protection can simply email the assessment office. If you asked to have your report password protected, we have done that.
Also, as part of our participation for the NCA visit, in the beginning of April, we will be distributing a brief survey to measure the culture of assessment at UNK. We would like to encourage all faculty to take the time to complete this short survey, which should take only 5-10 minutes. When results are available they will be posted on our website under the heading: “Faculty commitment to assessment”. A big thanks to Jamie Babutzke, a psychology undergraduate, who helped in survey development and piloting the survey. Also, a big thanks to the psychology faculty who participated in the pilot!
back to top
General Studies Assessment Pilot
As noted earlier, the 2004 NCA report identified assessment in General Studies (GS) as an issue that should be addressed prior to their return visit in 2008. Currently, each department that offers GS courses submits an assessment report to the GS Director. However, there has been no measure to evaluate whether the overall program is making a difference in student learning and meeting the GS student learning objectives:
- the ability to locate and gather information
- the capability for critical thinking, reasoning and analyzing
- effective communication skills including the ability to read, speak and write effectively, using the materials, ideas, and discourse modes of specific academic areas
- an understanding of the experiences and values of groups and cultures which have been historically under-represented.
A team composed of Daren Snider (GS Director), Jeanne Butler (Director of Assessment), Bethany Albrecht (GS GA), Richard Miller, and Teresa Wadkins (Psychology Department) developed a 24 item measure with six items measuring each of the four objectives listed above.
In February of 2007, the instrument was piloted in eight selected sections of four introductory GS courses. One section of English 101, two sections of Sociology 100, three sections of Psychology 203, and two sections of History 210 were included. A total of 288 students (162 freshmen, 75 sophomores, 32 juniors, and 13 seniors) took the exam. The proportion of males and females was almost equal (49.3% male and 50.7% female). Each student reported the GS courses taken at UNK and elsewhere. One hundred and ninety-nine of the students had only taken GS courses at UNK while 89 had taken at least one course from another institution.
Item difficulties ranged from .27 - .84, with one meaning that everyone answered the question correctly. The internal consistency coefficient (coefficient alpha) for the instrument was .755. The size of this reliability coefficient is usually considered adequate for group comparisons, the primary interest in this study.
Several preliminary analyses have been done. For example, significant (p <.05) correlations were found between the number of GS hours taken and the total score on the test (.236), the ability to locate and gather information subscale (.155), the critical thinking sub-scale (.132), the communication sub-scale (.198), and the diversity sub-scale (.207). Further analyses are being conducted and will be included in the next GS assessment report.
back to top
Student Assessment Committee Spring Update
By Bethany Hyatt, Student Assessment Committee Chair
In the fall of this academic year the Student Assessment Committee revised and re-administered the General Studies Student Survey. At the February Faculty Senate meeting the chair of the Student Assessment Committee presented some of the results and answered questions from faculty. The student assessment committee will also be presenting information from this survey at the Platte Valley Assessment Conference April 20th.
With the follow-up to the General Studies Survey complete, the committee set to work on another topic not only of interest to the members of the group, but also to the University. There has been growing interest and emphasis on student retention at UNK. However, there is little research related to what leads to student satisfaction, especially related to experiences outside of the classroom. The Student Assessment Committee determined that this was an area where they could provide more information. In early April, the committee hopes to collect data using a survey measuring student satisfaction and involvement outside of the classroom.
back to top
Platte Valley Assessment Conference
The Platte Valley Assessment Conference has been set for April 20th from 8 am to 4 pm at the Nebraskan Student Union. This year’s conference is entitled, “Using Assessment Data to Bring about Change”, and will focus on the various strategies in assessment used to improve student outcomes.
The conference boasts presenters from all over the state including Dana College, Union College, Doane College, as well as presenters from the UNK departments of psychology, business and technology, ITEC as well as several others. Several posters will be presented, by UNK faculty and students.
There will be two invited speakers. Dr. Maureen McCarthy, professor of psychology at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA will present a talk entitled “Attributes of High Quality Programs: A Developmental Framework for Program Assessment” and will cover eight essential factors of program review. Jean Yerian with WeaveOnline will present a talk entitled “Becoming More Intentional, More Accountable: Assessment Management for the 21st Century”.
For information about registration and the conference schedule visit the conference website:
back to top
UNK team attends HLC assessment workshop
On March 21, a team of five people from UNK traveled to Lisle, Illinois for a three-day Higher Learning Commission (HLC) workshop entitled: Making a Difference in Student Learning: Assessment as a Core Strategy. Thirty-two universities and colleges were represented at the workshop. Each university/college sent a team with between 3 and 13 people. UNK sent representatives from the Office of Assessment (Jeanne Butler and Sarah von Schrader), the General Studies Program (Daren Snider), Student Life Division (Lois Flagstad), and the Student Assessment Committee (Bethany Albrecht). The HLC is part of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), our accrediting organization at UNK.
This workshop was good preparation for the upcoming focused visit and for future accreditation reviews from NCA. There were a variety of sessions on assessment of student learning: for student affairs, for general education, as well as at the institutional-level, program-level, and course-level. There were opportunities to learn about innovative assessment practices taking place at the other participating universities. Jeanne Butler presented on efforts to build a “Culture of Assessment” at UNK.
Several hours each day were devoted to team work where we met with a mentor and discussed strengths and barriers to assessing student learning at UNK. These conversations led to identifying ideas and strategies for improving our assessment efforts. Our team identified several issues that we hope to address in the next year including: improving communication about assessment issues, providing faculty rewards and incentives for assessment work, and moving to a more integrated, university-wide view of student learning. Currently most assessment efforts at UNK have focused on department/program level assessment, we would like to have a broader view of factors impacting student learning at UNK, identifying and assessing important institutional-level and student life outcomes. Ultimately, we hope to use this assessment information to improve student learning at UNK.
The conference had a very full schedule, but each of our team members felt that the time spent was valuable. We all agreed that it was very useful to have team members representing a wide range of perspectives on the UNK experience (Student Life, General Studies, and student body).
back to top
NSSE/FSSE Survey and Results
This spring a sample of students and faculty were invited to complete the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE), respectively. The NSSE was last administered at UNK in 2004 and this will be the first time the FSSE has been administered. This year more than 1.1 million undergraduate students at 609 schools in the US and Canada will be invited to participate in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). About 50,000 undergraduate faculty from 161 institutions were invited to participate in the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE).
Objectives of the NSSE (From the NSSE website): The NSSE is designed to obtain, on an annual basis, information from scores of colleges and universities nationwide about student participation in programs and activities that institutions provide for their learning and personal development. The results will provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college. Survey items on The National Survey of Student Engagement represent empirically confirmed "good practices" in undergraduate education. That is, they reflect behaviors by students and institutions that are associated with desired outcomes of college.
Institutions will use their data to identify aspects of the undergraduate experience inside and outside the classroom that can be improved through changes in policies and practices more consistent with good practices in undergraduate education. This information is also intended for use by prospective college students, their parents, college counselors, academic advisers, institutional research officers, and researchers in learning more about how students spend their time at different colleges and universities and what they gain from their experiences.
To view summary data from 2002-2004 NSSE surveys administered at UNK please visit: http://www.unk.edu/academicaffairs/assessment/University-Wide/index.php?id=4466. The raw data for the NSSE and the FSSE are also available form the Office of Assessment. Data from the 2007 administration will be available this summer.
back to top