The Missing Link

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I really do love a quality animated film.  I am the one who usually rents a niece or nephew to take with me so that I don’t look too foolish heading into a children’s movie by myself.  One of my favorite of these films in the last couple of years was Monsters vs. Aliens.  And my favorite character from the film was a monster named Link—as in the “missing link”.  Link was a 20,000-year-old monster that looked like a spinoff of the main character in Creature From the Black Lagoon.  In the movie, Link did the heavy-lifting for the team of monsters so they could save the day. At this year’s assessment conference, Dr. Christopher Meseke from Park University will be presenting a breakout session with his own version of the missing link, only his link is in academia, of course.  Dr. Meseke will share his story of heavy lifting on the assessment front at Park with “The Missing Link: Continue reading

Journey to the Center of Assessment


Ever wonder what goes on at the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) assessment workshops?   Is your campus considering signing up for the Assessment Academy?  You might want to attend Highland Community College’s presentation during the morning breakout sessions.  Members of the Highland Community College Assessment Committee will share their experiences with the HLC workshop, pros and cons, advice for first-timer attendees, highlights of the experience, and benefits gained.  In addition, the presenters will provide an overview of the implementation of their college’s assessment plan. The presenters promise an interactive session with participants joining in a couple of activities/processes that their team brought back from the academy and found interesting, useful, and enjoyable.  The final line of their session description is my favorite, “Caveat: We are presenting as colleagues sharing the journey, not as accomplished experts providing authoritative advice!”  Sounds like a perfect session to me. Sheri H. Barrett, Ed.D

Inquiring Minds Want to Know


I am excited on multiple fronts that Rockhurst University faculty will be presenting at this year’s assessment conference.  First, our colleagues at Rockhurst have been a regular part of the conference since its inception.  Secondly, given the current national focus on STEM, their breakout session on learning and retention in general biology courses offers a chance for all of us to get up to speed on the pertinent issues in assessing science curriculum. We know from the literature that these introductory level courses often predict success in science courses throughout the curriculum.  Obviously, this is an important concern for both four-year and transfer institutions.  Consider hearing the team from Rockhurst explain the correlations and trends they found through their research in their session, “Assessment of Learning and Retention in a Two-Semester General Biology Course Sequence and Beyond.” We have two four-year colleges presenting at this year’s conference.  While the conference emphasis is still primarily on community colleges, there is so Continue reading

Black Holes


A few years back (which with my memory could be anywhere from last month to over a decade ago), I was at a Higher Learning Commission annual meeting and read the best ever conference session title for assessment:  “Black Holes and Gaseous Processes: Big Mistakes in Assessment.” Until recently, this title has remained one of my favorite descriptions of how I often feel when working on assessment initiatives on campus. But now I have a new favorite title, one that abandons all metaphors to reach an even starker level of candor:  “How to Conduct Effective Assessment When Nobody Wants to, They Can’t agree What to, but We Have to.” This session is being offered by our colleagues from Des Moines Area Community College.  Beth Baker-Brodersen, District Chair English; Bret Ross, English Assessment Committee Chair; and Chelli Gentry, Director of Assessment, will share their work on implementing a district-wide assessment program.  I’m looking forward to hearing their presentation of their story Continue reading

It’s Complicated

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General Education curriculum: Who owns it? Who assesses it? And, importantly, who decides on changes based on the assessment data? Big questions, even bigger answers. These are just a few of the complications that swirl around higher education assessment. At this year’s conference, we have two sessions that not only bring these broad questions into tight focus but also offer specific strategies for making gen ed assessment happen. In an afternoon breakout titled “Structuring and Scaling Up Embedded Assessment of General Education Outcomes at St. Louis Community College,” presenters will share their redesigned system-wide general education assessment, including best practices, early findings, obstacles, and future directions. In the final breakout session of the day, Johnson County Community College will share an AQIP action project to develop a comprehensive assessment plan which encouraged broad faculty participation, early implementation, and analysis of first results. These presenters will also address the difficulties of aggregating different kinds of data, hence the session title, “Apples Continue reading

Feeling Good About Assessment


I am a big fan of big-band jazz and I love the song “Feeling Good” – the lyrics include the phrase “It’s a new dawn, it’s new day, it’s a new life for me.  And I’m feeling good!”    Well it’s a new year, 2015, a new semester, a new conference, and I’m feeling good about the line-up that we have set-up for the 5th Regional Assessment Conference hosted this year by Johnson County Community College on April 20, 2015. Let’s start with this year’s keynote.  Dr. Tom Angelo’s keynote for the conference is “Seven Levers for Higher and Deeper Learning: Research-Based Guidelines and Strategies for Improving Teaching, Assessment and Learning.”   Just the opportunity to hear more from Dr. Angelo breathes new life into my teaching and assessment strategies.  I had the opportunity this past summer to attend one of his workshops and was impressed to find a great blend of theoretical and practical advice that I immediately put to use. Continue reading

Professional Development – A Plethora of Opportunities

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  Definition of Professional Development – “the process of obtaining the skills, qualifications, and experience that allow you to make progress in your career.” (Macmillan Dictionary, 2014) Looking ahead over the next several months at JCCC, I find the opportunities for faculty development in the assessment of student learning remarkable in both breadth and depth. Leading off the new academic semester in January, the Office of Outcomes Assessment (OOA) will host a workshop that was piloted last summer. Assessment by Design – Comprehensive Overview, is a day-long, hands-on workshop which provides participants with an interactive and theoretical framework for addressing the assessment needs of their courses or programs. Come to this workshop as an individual faculty member working on assessing student learning in your courses, or bring your colleagues to address assessment initiatives for your program. During Professional Development Days, find your development opportunity in sessions such as: “Hits and Misses” in Launching Assessment Strategies, a faculty panel discussion Taming Continue reading