Proving or Improving – that is the question

“What is the purpose of assessment?”  I think every assessment director, coordinator, and faculty member has been asked this question at some point.  It is a great question.  I think the answer lies in your “philosophy” of assessment.  I believe there are two distinct ways of looking at assessment – there are those who look to use assessment to “prove” learning and those who use assessment to “improve” learning.  What’s the difference? Proving Student Learning Focuses on an external audience Faculty often have little influence or control in the assessment processes Results can be difficult to tie to the actual teaching that occurs in the classroom Purpose of the assessment is to satisfy accountability requirements from the state, accrediting bodies, external stakeholders, etc. Improving Student Learning Focuses on the program and the discipline Faculty drive the assessment processes and the interpretation of the results Results are based on what happens in the classroom and program Purpose is to improve student’s learning in Continue reading Proving or Improving – that is the question

A Baseball Analogy for Assessment

The bases were loaded…everyone’s favorite hitter was up to bat as the keynote….two-year colleges were on first and second and third base was covered by a four-year school.  Jeremy stepped into the batter’s box and drove a screamer over the back fence.  The crowds were chanting Assessment, Assessment, Assessment! My apologies to the baseball aficionados in the group, but that’s how it felt this past week when we participated in the Assessment Matters 2019 conference hosted here at Johnson County Community College.  This year’s conference brought teams from 10 states and 41 colleges and universities.  Over the two days of the conference we had 162 participants in sessions on assessment in both academic and student affairs settings.  Dr. Jeremy Penn was our keynote provided a wonderful session on the past, present and future of assessment.  Our breakout sessions included projects from two-year and four-year schools, public and private. What was most exciting about the conference was the level of participation by Continue reading A Baseball Analogy for Assessment

Co-Curricular Assessment

One of the “hot button” topics in higher education is assessment of co-curricular activities.  In the Higher Learning Commission universe, it is even written into the Criteria for Accreditation; however, many schools are struggling to understand how to assess these activities. For that matter, how do we as educators define co-curricular versus extra-curricular activities?  At my institution, we are grappling with these issues with new specialized software and a task force charged with determining the how, why, and when of capturing and assessing how students benefit from co-curricular engagement. If you are in the same boat, you might consider joining us at the Pre-conference workshop for Assessment Matters on Thursday, April 25th.  We have two afternoon sessions on assessing co-curricular.  The first is from our keynote Dr. Jeremy Penn, President of the Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education. His session is entitled “When you Run a Co-curricular Program, Assess it! Strategies for Developing Manageable and Meaningful Co-curricular Continue reading Co-Curricular Assessment

Spring – where are you?

Spring is not here.  I know this because we are still experiencing frigid weather, snow, ice, brown landscapes, and all the joys of winter.  But I know that spring is coming and I’m ready! Beyond the warmth and green the season brings, this spring will also bring the Assessment Matters Conference – April 25 & 26th, 2019.  It has been two years since our last conference, as we’ve moved to an every other year format.  The line-up for this year’s conference and pre-conference workshop is stellar and I’m excited for April to arrive. This year’s lineup includes Dr. Jeremy Penn, President of the Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education as our keynote speaker.  We will also be featuring great sessions from colleagues at St. Louis Community College, Metropolitan Community College, Southeast Community College, Emporia State University, the University of Kansas, and others! For the next several weeks I’ll feature information on the blog about our upcoming conference.  Continue reading Spring – where are you?

Whipping up the Right Assessment

In the last few years I’ve taken up baking.  Previously, my attempts were confined to breaking open little cans of dough I would pop in the oven.  My addiction to baking began with watching The Great British Baking Show and it has taught me some interesting truths about assessment: Order matters.  In baking and assessment there are steps in the process that come in a specific order.  If you work out of order with some recipes or assessment processes your final product isn’t as successful. The right tool is important.  Baking requires some specialized tools.  I couldn’t believe the difference in my bakes after my husband bought me a high end mixer.  Assessing student learning is also best accomplished with specific types of assessments in line with what faculty are trying to measure. Practice makes perfect!  The more I bake and try to perfect certain recipes, the better my outcomes.  The same holds true with assessment.  The more you try Continue reading Whipping up the Right Assessment

Five things I learned at the Assessment Institute

Darla Green, Professor, Interior Design / College Success Questions to ponder:  How do you teach the successful ability to change?  How do we teach and assess emotional intelligence, empathy, flexible thinking? ePortfolios are more than just a capstone project.  If we teach students how to create, evaluate and reflect on materials for a learning portfolio from day one, students will have not only a record of their learning, but will also have learned how to implement their portfolio for job seeking. Purposeful assessment in online courses means including the “why” an assignment is important.  Explaining how this assignment will relate to the real world.  Be concise yet fully explain the why. We need to tell our learning improvement stories – not our assessment tool stories. Assessment failure is an option!  Don’t fear the failure, it is a learning opportunity not a failure. Sheri Barrett, Director, Assessment, Evaluation and Institutional Outcomes “A pig never fattens because it is weighed.” Translation for that saying Continue reading Five things I learned at the Assessment Institute

The Proof is in the Assessment

Geometry proofs – I must admit I don’t often ponder geometry.  In fact, I can honestly say I work hard not to think much about geometry.  But I recently heard someone compare decisions that we make every day to if/then geometry proofs.  IF we make this decision, THEN this is the outcome. It made me consider what kind of if/then proofs I would make for assessment.  I came up with three, but I think there are many more.  Here are mine: If you are interested in student success in your courses and programs…then you should be assessing student performance. If you are always trying to improve as a teacher…then you want to assess your students. If you want greater satisfaction in your student’s performance…then you need to assess. So as classes are underway and you consider student success, improved pedagogy, and student performance; consider how assessment can help meet your if/then needs this academic year.