Assessment Awards Luncheon
The Assessment Awards Luncheon was held on Thursday, February 12th in the NSU Cedar Room. Faculty members who prepare department and program reports were invited to attend and were recognized for their outstanding work on assessment over the last year. The following awards were presented to departments and individuals for their exemplary contributions to assessment at UNK.
Award of Appreciation
SVCAASL Finnie Murray
Exemplary Contributions to Assessment
Exemplary Action Planning
Rapid Response Award
Political Science (GS)
General Studies Assessment
Art Appreciation*English Compostition
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Assessment Reporting Results for 2007-2008
And Action Items for the Office of Assessment
In Fall 2008, UNK implemented online submittal of departmental/program assessment reports and General Studies (GS) assessment reports using WEAVEonline. During the HLC accreditation visit in April 2008, the reviewer expressed concern about UNK being able to maintain the level of commitment to assessment that was demonstrated in the self-study and in her interviews with faculty. However, the planned implementation of WEAVEonline allayed many of her concerns in the area of sustainability, since WEAVEonline is simplifying the assessment reporting process by standardizing the format for the reports and providing a framework for all reporting. This has eliminated the requirement for the extensive assessment reports being submitted annually by all departments.
All department and GS assessment personnel participated in WEAVEonline training sessions in September, 2008 before submitting reports using the software. 98% of the departments and programs on campus had submitted their assessment reports before the end of the semester. Three departments submitted reports after the beginning of the spring semester. A majority of departments indicated that the process of switching to online submittal had gone well and WEAVEonline would provide a more streamlined reporting process for their departments and programs.
Revision of Learning Outcomes and Rubrics
In addition to concerns about sustainability, in a detailed analysis of the department/program learning outcomes and rubrics, the HLC reviewer also expressed concerns about the format some departments were using for these critical assessment tools. She felt that some departments had too many outcomes and that in some cases the outcomes were not observable or assessable. She also indicated that in many cases departments were evaluating student performance with scales, rather than rubrics. As a result, the reviewer indicated that the Office of Assessment needed to review all department/program learning outcomes and rubrics and provide feedback, so they could be revised by the departments. Feedback on rubrics was provided in the Assessment Feedback Reports sent to departments in the fall. Those reports informed departments whether they were using correct rubrics and if they needed to revise their evaluation instruments.
The Office of Assessment has begun the review process of all learning outcomes and is providing feedback to departments and programs using a Learning Outcomes Checklist. As the feedback is provided to departments, the Director of Assessment will set up meetings with each department to go over the feedback and provide suggestions for revisions of both the learning outcomes and the rubrics. These meetings will be completed this semester and departments will be asked to revise learning outcomes and rubrics before they submit their assessment reports in fall 2009. The Office has also developed training materials for Establishing Learning Outcomes and for Developing Effective Rubrics.
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Responding to NCA about General Studies
Daren Snider, Director of General Studies
Over the past 20 years, assessment has become a permanent feature of all colleges and universities in the country. During that time, we’ve learned that the traditional, “cafeteria style” general education offered at most universities offer could be improved substantially. Although such programs are common, they were not originally conceived to function as coherent programs. Students have often been left bewildered about what they were supposed to gain from completing a set of seemingly unrelated classes that made up their general education requirement.
Today, best practices in general education now mean that programs should have a beginning, middle and end. There should be a progression in learning levels during the course of the program. To use the language of Bloom’s taxonomy, freshman GS courses might focus on building students’ knowledge and comprehension, courses in the various disciplines might expand that learning to applying and analyzing what is learned, and a Capstone course should require students to synthesize information and evaluate its merits. That kind of learning progression is difficult to achieve in traditional general education, and colleges have faltered in trying to retrofit modern assessment practices onto existing programs.
NCA’s April 2008 focused visit noted that we are in the same position as many universities – that of trying to reconcile a traditional GS program with best practices in assessment. The team applauded UNK’s intensive work in GS assessment since their initial visit (2004), but on one point they were very clear – that our GS objectives and assessment practices need greater validity, and there needs to be general agreement on campus about what we want students to learn from General Studies. So, NCA is requiring us to rewrite our GS learning outcomes and to achieve consensus among the faculty about objectives.
Concurrent with NCA’s visit last spring, the Roundtable discussions initiated by the Faculty Senate concluded their document of a proposed GS curriculum. In fall 2008, the GS Council began working with the Roundtable document and other proposals for a renewed GS program. The Council’s task now is to create an assessable, excellent GS program that will meet NCA requirements and will prepare students for productive lives in the 21st century. The Council’s priorities are: 1) To rework GS objectives following NCA’s recommendations and best practices; and 2) To build a progressive GS curriculum that aligns with best practices and UNK’s Strategic Plan, and which meets the needs of the students we serve.
To be clear: NCA’s visit in 2004 noted deficiencies in how we assess GS, and their follow up visit found that our existing GS program does not allow adequate assessment of learning. We must change both our assessment practices and the GS program that underlies them. At stake is UNK’s accreditation along with federal student aid that is tied to it.
NCA has given UNK until April 30, 2011 to submit a progress report on the new GS program’s structure, student learning outcomes, assessment plan, and implementation status. To meet that deadline, this is the schedule:
Spring 2009: Rework GS learning outcomes; present a renewed GS program proposal to the faculty for input.
Fall 2009, spring and summer 2010: With a renewed GS program in place, departments rework courses and submit proposals to the GS Council for inclusion in General Studies.
Fall 2010: New freshmen follow the renewed GS program; departments and the GS Council assess results.
April 30, 2011: UNK reports the results to NCA.
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Learning Community Participation and Educational Outcomes:
Direct, Indirect, and Contingent Relationships
Gary Pike, George Kuh, and Alexander McCormick
This study examines the direct, indirect, and contingent relationships between participating in a learning community, student engagement, and self-reported learning outcomes. Using data from the 2004 administration of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the results indicate that the relationships between a learning community experience and learning outcomes are mediated by students’ levels of engagement.
Learning communities have become a widely recognized and often utilized “high impact practice” to improve students achievement, learning, and success. The present research suggests that the relationships between learning community participation and student learning outcomes may be more complex than often assumed. Rather than directly affecting student learning, membership in a learning community appears to be associated with higher levels of student engagement which, in turn, leads to a host of positive educational outcomes. Similarly, the relationships among learning community participation, student engagement, and learning outcomes appear to depend on the characteristics of the institution and the way in which the learning community is structured.
The results of this study advance our understanding of how learning community participation is linked to desirable outcomes of college. A simple inoculation model in which learning community membership has a direct, linear effect on student learning does not adequately explain the complex interactions of learning community design, student characteristics, and institutional settings. In order to maximize the potentially positive effects of learning communities, intentional, contextualized design and implementation efforts are needed.
For the complete article go to: http://planning.iupui.edu/publications/
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Upcoming Assessment Conferences
The Office of Assessment sponsors travel stipends for faculty to attend conferences related to assessment of student learning. Funding is competitive, with preference given to faculty who are making a presentation related to assessment or faculty attending a conference or workshop on assessment. Applications should be submitted to the Director of Assessment, prior to the event. Awards will not be made after an event has occurred. Successful applicants will be asked to deliver their conference presentation or a topic related to the conference at a Center for Teaching Excellence seminar.
Clearwater Beach, Florida, February 18-20, 2009
Texas A&M University
9th Annual Texax A&M Annual Assessment Conference
February 22-24, 2009
College Station, TX
Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)
General Education, Assessment and the Learning Students Need
February 26-28, 2009
National Association for Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA)
2009 NASPA Annual Conference: Nourishing Partnerships for Lifelong Learning
March 7-11, 2009
Higher Learning Commission Annual Meeting
Finding Common Ground: Accreditation, Assessment and Accountability
April 17-21, 2009
2009 North Carolina State Undergraduate Assessment Symposium
Aligning Pedagogy, Curriculum & Assessment
April 24-26, 2009
The International Association for Educational Assessment (IAEA)
2009 Annual Conference
September 13-18, 2009
American Evaluation Association Annual Conference: Context and Evaluation
Monday, November 9 to Saturday, November 14, 2009
Headquarters Hotel: Rosen Shingle Creek Resort
2009 President: Debra Rog
President's Theme: Context and Evaluation
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Online Assessment Resources
Writing Course Objectives
Understanding and Creating Rubrics
Creating Rubrics Using Rubistar
Learning Outcomes Checklist
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