From Danger to Opportunity
The Chinese ideogram for "crisis" is made up of the symbols for "danger" and "opportunity."
| Danger Opportunity
This symbol exemplifies the development of an Assessment Culture at UNK. The impending NCA visit was the crisis that initiated the assessment process.
In response to the crisis, the Assessment Committee was charged with assisting colleges and departments in developing an assessment plan, implementing the plan, and providing a report outlining an assessment process and results. Initially, the assessment initiatives at UNK were viewed by some as a threat or danger. The focus at this stage was on input—to the plans and to the reports for the academic programs and departments.
As the assessment culture develops and matures at UNK, the focus is shifting from input to outcomes. A focus on input emphasizes the collection, analysis, and reporting of data. Outcome-based assessment moves beyond data analysis and reporting, with the focus shifting to the use of information on student performance to bring about positive change to the curriculum and to academic programs.
NCA Draft Report Assessment Results
The following information was presented as a handout by Chancellor Kristensen at the Administrative retreat on August 17, 2004, as part of his introductory remarks. It provides a brief overview of the results of the NCA visit related to assessment.
Reaccreditation approved with next comprehensive evaluation/visit in 2013-14.
Focused visit in 2008 to evaluate progress on assessment of student learning outcomes, including assessment in distance-learning programs.
Primary Observations on Assessment
UNK has made limited progress in the assessment of student learning outcomes exemplified by:
Lack of enthusiasm among the faculty.
Late and insufficient attention to administrative infrastructure—responsible office and resources.
Insufficient internal accountability and reporting.
Insufficient attention to assessment in graduate and distance education programs.
Insufficient attention to assessment in CD and WI courses in the undergraduate curriculum.
NCA Expectations for the 2008 Focused Visit
The campus should be able to demonstrate that it has developed stable administrative oversight for assessment with clearly defined responsibilities, authority, accountability, and an appropriate operating budget.
The campus should be able to demonstrate that student learning outcomes are being assessed in its undergraduate and graduate programs, including general studies, and that assessment results are being used to improve programs and increase student learning.
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Developing an Assessment Culture at UNK
In addressing the issues and concerns raised by the NCA visit, UNK has begun implementing changes in the assessment process including:
Establishing an office of assessment
Identifying budget requirements
Drafting a General Studies Assessment plan
Initiating activities to establish a culture of assessment at UNK
One of the first changes was to identify personnel to fill three assessment positions. Glen Powell was selected as Director of Assessment with overall responsibility for the assessment process. Jeanne Butler was hired as Coordinator of Assessment to work closely with departments, colleges and programs in developing and implementing assessment plans and reporting the outcomes. Jeanne Cutler will serve as the Assessment Website Manager.
Another critical factor being addressed is the need for an assessment budget. A budget request has been submitted that includes funding for faculty development related to assessment and for faculty research on assessment. The Assessment Office will be able to begin funding assessment-related projects once the budget is confirmed.
To address concerns about General Studies assessment, the Director of General Studies has drafted an assessment plan which has received approval from the General Studies assessment sub-committee. Once the plan has final approval, data will be collected during the 2004-2005 academic year to provide baseline data for the four year General Studies assessment plan.
A key to developing an assessment culture at UNK is effective communication across the university to ensure that all parts of the organization are aware of the assessment activities taking place. To improve communication about assessment at UNK, the following initiatives have begun:
Regular meetings with colleges and departments on assessment
An assessment newsletter with the first issue published in September
An updated assessment website which is a work in progress
A schedule/directory of assessment activities on campus that will be available on the website beginning with the September 27th CTE seminar on assessment
Another critical component in developing an assessment culture is ensuring that all participants have the skills and knowledge to develop and implement an effective assessment program. To accomplish this, there will be ongoing assessment training and activities. These will include:
Funding for faculty to attend and present papers at assessment conferences
CTE workshops/seminars on assessment topics
A one-day assessment conference at UNK in the Spring
An assessment expo for departments to present their assessment activities (posters/handouts) as part of the conference
Periodic assessments of the culture at UNK which will include surveys and focus groups.
Many of these changes that impact assessment at UNK have already begun. The changes will assist the University in moving from simple compliance with NCA requirements to a culture of assessment in which faculty, students, and administration recognize and support the need for assessment and reporting of student outcomes across the organization.
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IRB Requirements for Assessment Research
Rick Miller, IRB Director
In developing an assessment plan and assessment instruments, it is important to remember that any systematic investigation involving human subjects that is designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge must receive IRB approval prior to initiation. This includes investigations conducted by faculty, students, staff or others on the premises of the University of Nebraska (UNL, UNK, UNMC, UNO), as well as investigations conducted elsewhere by any representative of the University of Nebraska.
The important phrase here, for those of you who are conducting an assessment of student outcomes or program effectiveness, is "generalizable knowledge." If your assessment program is only designed to provide your department and faculty with information that can be used to improve your program it may not be knowledge that can be generalized to a wider audience. However, if there is a possibility that you will collect information that could be useful to others and you want to share your findings at a conference, workshop, newsletter or some other public forum, then you need to file a protocol with the Institutional Review Board.
Instructions on how to file and the form you need to fill out are available on the IRB website: http://www.unk.edu/acad/gradstudies/IRB/
If you are unsure whether or not your assessment activity requires IRB approval, please contact either Rick Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bob Rycek (email@example.com). They will be happy to assist you. You can also attend the IRB workshop being offered on September 23rd from 4:00-5:00 in the Cedar Room.
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Upcoming Assessment Activities at UNK
September 23, 4:00-5:00 NSU Cedar Room
IRB Workshopfor faculty who conduct research with human subjects or assessment activities that may qualify for research status.
September 27, 3:00-4:00 NSU Cedar Room
UNK Assessment Past, Present and Future
Panel discussion on using Standardized tests as direct measures of General Studies and Field specific knowledge.
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Assessment Conferences and Workshops
IUPUI 2004 Assessment Institute in Indianapolis
October 31 – November 2, 2004
Cost: $285/individual, $275/per group
POD Network Annual Conference (The Professional and
Organizational Development Network in Higher Education -
November 4-7, 2004
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
24th Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience
February 4-8, 2005
GENERAL EDUCATION AND ASSESSMENT: Creating Shared
Responsibility for Learning Across the Curiculum
February 17-19, 2005
Atlanta, Georgia Cost: $360/per http://www.aacu.org/meetings/generaleducation/gened2005/
2005 North Carolina State University Assessment Symposium
April 16-17, 2005
Cost: $185/per http://www.ncsu.edu/undergrad_affairs/assessment/files/resources/
AAC&U Institute on General Education
May 20-25, 2005
AAHE Assessment Conference
June 12 – 14, 2005
Toronto, CanadaCALL FOR PAPERS: TBA
Cost: $445 approx.
18th International First-Year Experience Conference
CALL FOR PAPERS: TBA
AAHE Making a Difference in Student Learning:
Assessment as a Core Strategy
November 3-5, 2005 Lisle, IL
Cost: $750/per (includes lodging and meals) http://www.aahe.org/convenings/convenings.folworkshops.htm