Assessment Awards Luncheon
The Assessment Awards Luncheon was held on Tuesday, February 16, 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
Ron Crocker, Assoc Dean FAH
Exemplary Contributions to Assessment
Most Improved Assessment Reporting
Rapid Response Award
Political Science * History * CSP
Psychology * ITEC * Communications
Modern Languages * HPERLS
Business Program * General Studies
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Assessment of the New General Studies Program
The Higher Learning Commission evaluation team first identified the need for assessment of student learning in the General Studies Program at UNK in 1994.
When they returned for an accreditation visit in 2004, the HLC team found that there was still no assessment of the General Studies program and required a focused visit in 2008, by which time there needed to be assessment of the program.
Although assessment of the GS program was in place by 2008, the evaluators identified problems with the department-based approach in the old program and made suggestions for changes to the assessment that would be implemented in the new GS program which will begin in Fall, 2010. This continuing dissatisfaction resulted in the requirement for a progress report on GS Assessment in the new GS program by April of 2011.
The HLC evaluator’s comments in the feedback report focused on the need for the following changes in General Studies Assessment:
- Consistent interpretation of GS learning outcomes across departments
- Common methods and instruments used to measure GS outcomes
- Standardized rubrics used to evaluate performance
GS Learning Outcomes
According to the HLC Evaluators: As it stands, there does not appear to be a clear, shared definition nor understanding of the learning outcomes for the General Studies program.
To address this issue, standardized learning outcomes have been developed and will be used by all GS courses offered in the new program beginning in Fall, 2010. These learning outcomes were developed and refined over a 3 year period with the involvement of many faculty on campus. The initial list of learning outcomes was developed by the GS Roundtable in 2006 and the final outcomes were approved by the General Studies council and the faculty.
Common Assessment Methods and Instruments
The HLC evaluators found that: Each department that is teaching courses in General Studies is assessing their interpretation of the outcomes in their own way, using their own instruments. As such, it is impossible to determine whether UNK students are achieving at an acceptable level when the level shifts from course to course, and program to program.
Addressing this issue requires the development of common assessment items that can be used to evaluate each of the learning outcomes identified for the program. These items have to be generic enough to be used across disciplines, but provide some flexibility so faculty can determine the specific content that is evaluated in their course. One assignment, designated as GS assessment, will be required in each GS course and will be part of each student’s grade in the course. The following is an example of a common assessment item that could be used in a GS course.
Following their visit, the HLC evaluators indicated that: Many assessment “rubrics” are simply numerical scales, without descriptions of performance characteristics at each level. Creating standard rubrics for the outcomes would be a tremendous help when it comes time for assessing student achievement.
The common rubrics that have been identified to assess the six program level learning outcomes for General Studies at UNK were developed as part of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) VALUE project. As part of the VALUE project, teams of faculty and other academic and student affairs professionals from across the country engaged in an iterative process over eighteen months. They gathered, analyzed, synthesized, and then drafted institutional level rubrics for 15 of the AAC&U Essential Learning Outcomes, creating the set of VALUE rubrics.
Additional information on learning outcomes , common assessment assignments , and common rubrics is available on the Assessment website.
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Keynote Address from the AAC&U General Education Conference
AAC&U's Network for Academic Renewal conference: General Education and Assessment: Maintaining Momentum, Achieving New Priorities was held February 18-20, 2010 in Seattle. The Keynote address at the conference was: Conceptualizing a 21st Century Renaissance for General Education and was presented by Robert Weisbuch, President, Drew University. His key points included: Is Core a bore inevitably? Can general education distribution requirements ever escape looking like a warehouse inventory? How can we convey the joy of the arts and sciences to the changing student population? Too many lukewarm results imply the need for new campus discussions about compelling versions of general education. Dr. Weisbuch shares insights on the kinds of general education and assessment that provide all students with the opportunity to achieve their educational goals, find purpose beyond their selves, and contribute to the well-being of society.
Access the podcast of his outstanding session at: http://www.aacu.org/Podcast/podcasts.cfm?id=148
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Curriculum Mapping Project for 2010-2011
During summer 2009, the Office of Assessment began a curriculum mapping project at UNK in preparation for the HLC accreditation visit in 2014. Ten departments took part in the first workshop and are currently in the process of completing the curriculum maps for their departments.
Curriculum maps are developed at the department level and cover all courses taught. The process requires the involvement of all faculty evaluating their own courses against their department's learning outcomes to determine where the outcomes are taught. The mapping process:
- Is an effective tool for consensus and community building in a department or program
- Promotes a “holistic” perspective of a curriculum
- Clarifies relationships between courses (e.g., course sections, prerequisites)
- Identifies problem areas with learning outcomes not taught or assessed or things taught that have no learning outcomes
The first training was provided in a 2-day workshop. This year the training will be provided on-line and faculty will complete it during the summer. They will then work with their departments to develop the curriculum maps during the 2010-2011 academic year. Each department participating will need to complete a letter of agreement and submit it to the Office of Assessment. In that letter one faculty member from a department is identified to take the lead in the process. Both the department and the faculty member receive funding for their participation in the project (departments receive $1000 and faculty receive $500.
Participants for the 2010-2011 academic year will be identified by the end of April, 2010. If you are interested, please complete the agreement letter and submit it by April 15th.
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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.
Higher Learning Commission Annual Meeting
Quality in Higher Education
April 9-13, 2010
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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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