End of Term


I have a cold.  I realize that news is not exactly earth shattering or unexpected this time of year.  But still, I don’t like having a cold.  You can’t go anywhere without a pocketful of tissues.  When people realize you have a cold they treat you like you are carrying typhoid or the bubonic plague.  Even close friends give you a wide berth as they make sympathetic little comments. Of course this time of year I am use to my faculty colleagues giving me a wide berth in the hallways.  Usually if they see me coming they duck into the nearest open doorway.  I try not to take it personally, I know the behavior is driven by the fact they owe me assessment data at the end of the term.  I send out regular emails this time of year subtly encouraging faculty to turn their assessment data in at the end of the term before they get away from campus Continue reading End of Term

An Accreditation Viewpoint

Assessment Workshop

If you know me very well, then you know that I am an accreditation geek.  What that means in my everyday life is that when I start talking about something in the world of accreditation, people’s eyes glaze over and they look at their watches frequently until I stop.  For me, accreditation work is a wonderful opportunity to see what other colleges and universities are doing at a greater depth and breadth than can be observed looking from the outside. I recently had the opportunity to participate in a site visit (no names here) at a community college in the Higher Learning Commission universe.  I was excited to see some of the wonderful work the faculty were doing in several areas, innovative programming, increases in student success, and probably the most highly engaged faculty and staff I have ever had the opportunity to meet.  But, like all schools, I also observed the areas where the campus was struggling.  In accreditation Continue reading An Accreditation Viewpoint

On the road again…and again…and again

ID-10084349 suitcase

On the road again…I started this blog post with my first trip to Louisville at the end of September.  Since then I have been to California on a site visit and to Indianapolis for the Assessment Institute.  I have two more trips to make before Thanksgiving so I am definitely getting my reward miles in this Fall. There were some great sessions at the 2016 Assessment Institute.  I participated in the poster session and dragged a giant tube with my poster in it on the plane from Kansas City.  The overhead bins are not fond of large cardboard tubes. There are always tough choices to make in determining which sessions to go to, invariably the two sessions that look the best are stacked against each other in the schedule and decisions must be made.  One session that I enjoyed and learned a lot in was a plenary and feature Sylvia M. Jenkins, President of Moraine Valley Community College.  Her story Continue reading On the road again…and again…and again

On the Road Again…


On the road again…in my head I always hear that Willie Nelson song as I start for the airport.  This fall I think I will be hearing that tune a lot as my travel schedule got a little crowded somehow.  My first trip was to the CREATE conference in Louisville, KY.  It was my first time to this conference and I really enjoyed sessions.  One of my favorites was a keynote speaker, Dr. John Fischetti, Professor and Dean of the School of Education at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Dr. Fischetti spoke about the challenges higher education faces in the future.  He gave a great analogy about approaching complex problems from a different perspective.  The analogy was about the race to the moon in the 1960’s and the problem that NASA was having with finding rocket boosters strong enough to push the capsule out of orbit.  They never did come up with a rocket booster that could accomplish that task, Continue reading On the Road Again…

A New Kind of Grade Inflation


I spent my summer vacation like many assessment professionals – steeped in data!  Summer is when we have the time in our office to review assessment data from both the general education curriculum and the career and technical programs on campus.  I will admit to being a little bit disappointed as I reviewed some of the data sets. What emerged from the results was a form of grade inflation in student learning outcomes. The College has been very deliberate in its message about the use of assessment data for improving student learning in the classroom – NOT faculty evaluation.  However, I believe faculty still harbor concerns that the data on assessment will be used as an evaluation tool, and this is causing a new type of inflation not of grades, but of data.  I’m not sure what to call this trend.  Data-gate, data-inflation, or learning-inflation? All in all it does not benefit the students or the faculty.  I am still grappling with Continue reading A New Kind of Grade Inflation

One last summer post


When I was a kid I always looked forward to summer because I attended a camp for Girl Scouts.  It was loads of fun.  We slept in tents, paddled around in canoes, swam, played games and made s’mores every evening.  This past week I attended the assessment version of summer camp in Milwaukee.  We didn’t sleep in tents and there were no s’mores, but I had a great experience at the Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AAHLE) annual meeting. I heard great speakers both in the plenary and breakout sessions at the conference.  In the breakouts I learned I was not alone, picked up lots of great ideas to implement on my campus, and made connections with other assessment professionals.  I have to give a shout out to two plenary sessions in particular, the first plenary speaker was Thomas J. Chapel from the Centers for Disease (CDC).  His address “Potholes on the Road to Good Monitoring Continue reading One last summer post

Endings and Beginnings

Wooden bridge in green

We often think of December as the time when a year “wraps up” and things come to a close as we prepare to start a new year, but in the realm of academics, the month of May rivals or exceeds December as a time of closure.  We are wrapping up the academic year, colleagues and friends are retiring, we are posting final grades, and looking forward to a little rest and relaxation during summer.  So, in other words, this is a perfect time to think about assessment! Even as the academic year ends, another semester is already on the horizon, which means another academic year is fast approaching.  Summertime is a great time to take stock of where you are with your assessment initiatives.  Do you need to spend some time analyzing data?  Reevaluating your assessment question?  Tweaking or changing your assessment instrument?  Working with colleagues to develop new assessment strategies? The Office of Outcomes Assessment is the bridge to Continue reading Endings and Beginnings