Name That Tune


I have always been fascinated by how our brains work.  Specifically, how my brain can remember all the lyrics from songs in the 1970’s but can’t remember a conversation I had in the hallway with a colleague 20 minutes ago.  I am the perfect lifeline if you are on a game show and need someone to sing “Midnight Train to Georgia” or “More than a Feeling”. At this year’s Regional Community College Assessment Conference on April 22 (#RCCAC16) at JCCC, Heather Seitz, Associate Professor in Microbiology at JCCC, will share her own contribution to national research. In her breakout session on using concept inventories for measuring student learning gains in the classroom, Professor Seitz will provide an overview of the history of concept inventories and discuss the process for creating them. Faculty can use concept inventories to measure the impact of teaching and compare their students’ successes with national data.  Professor Seitz will be sharing some very interesting research as well Continue reading

Back to Basics: Revisiting Bloom’s Taxonomy


A common challenge in college teaching is keeping course objectives, program outcomes and classroom assessments in alignment. As we construct our assessment instruments, course assignments, and test questions, are we also considering where on the cognitive ladder we are asking our students to think? In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of three domains:  Cognitive: mental skills (Knowledge), Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (Attitude), Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (Skills). Within this cognitive domain, Bloom identified six levels from the simple recall or recognition of facts at the bottom level through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels to the highest order thinking characterized as evaluation.  This representation of the levels of thinking is widely known in education circles as “Bloom’s Taxonomy.” Figure 1 – Original version of Bloom’s Cognitive Taxonomy Bloom found that over 95 % of the test questions students encountered in the classroom require them to think only Continue reading

Takeaways on Giveaways

ID-100113815-red gift box

I recently participated in a conference call with the Regional Assessment Coordinating Council.  We regularly confer as we prepare for the April assessment conference.   One agenda item during this meeting was discussion about the type of “bling” we should offer conference participants this year.  In the past, we’ve provided useful items like insulated travel cups, mugs, tote bags, coasters, etc.  Our call ended with all council members promising to do some further investigating with the intent of sharing their respective findings during our January conference call. So I began to wonder, exactly what kind of “bling” is appropriate for an assessment conference? In pondering this conundrum, my mind wandered just a bit and led me to come up with more of a list of “best ever” giveaway options for assessment folks. I know I would very much like to discover the following tucked inside my conference bag: Magic dust that I could spread on any faculty members resistant to assessment Continue reading

Time and Space

ID-10084349 suitcase cropped

Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased. —John Steinbeck I enjoy discovering quotes. In fact, I have saved a few particularly poignant ones that I would be happy to share if you want to drop by my office. Recently, I came across this one by John Steinbeck. I’m a fan of several of Steinbeck’s books, but, interestingly, I didn’t find this in a book. It appeared in one of those little “inspirational” calendars that are very popular gifts at this time of year and for which it seems wholly appropriate. As I was musing on the quote, it came to me that assessment is very much like a trip that continues “long after movement…have ceased.” When assessing students, the movement generated in the collecting of data on student learning has an impact on the curriculum long after the actual data collection has stopped. With the act of analyzing the data, this movement amplifies as Continue reading



When I was a kid, I was always anticipating something – Christmas, spring break, summer vacation, my next birthday.  As I got older and the responsibility for those activities fell more squarely on my shoulders, the anticipation took on some other qualities, like anxiety and trepidation.  And, of course, at this stage of life, let’s not even discuss birthdays! But I am experiencing a pleasant form of anticipation again as all the planning and preparation ramps up for the 6th Annual Regional Community College Assessment Conference scheduled for April 22, 2016.  Working with our keynote speaker Dr. Jillian Kinzie, coordinating with colleagues about logistics, marketing the conference, and discussing components of the venue are all serving to build the anticipation and excitement for what I know will be a great conference. Mark your calendar now for the 2016 conference with its timely theme of Assessment: Shifting from Compliance to Ownership so you will also have a great event to anticipate.  Continue reading

We Are All in the Same Boat


All of my life, I have heard the phrase, “We’re all in the same boat.”  Growing up on the water in Florida gave me ample opportunity to hear it.  I recently tried to track down the original quote and found references all the way back to Sophocles, so I think it is safe to say that it has been operative for quite a long time. I thought of this phrase recently in chatting with some colleagues from a community college in St. Louis.  The campus is bringing a team here to JCCC in October to visit with our office and the college’s Assessment Council about assessment issues.  They want to know how we are approaching assessment, what is working well, and what doesn’t work.  I believe they are hoping we have a magic pill that we can share that will help them engage more of their faculty in assessment initiatives on campus. It is a conversation I have often with Continue reading

Assessment is Like a Chicago Hot Dog

20150911_134232 Sheri's Chicago hot dog

I was recently in Chicago for a conference and made my regular pilgrimage to obtain the ultimate of all hot dogs, a true Chicago dog.  Now, please understand that in my family we considers ourselves connoisseurs of hot dogs:  my dad loved them, my brothers still find them tasty, and I’ve certainly consumed my fair share of them. But let’s be honest, there is just something special about a Chicago dog. First of all, the Chicago hot dog has LOTS of ingredients.  The hot dog has to be served in a poppy-seed bun with yellow mustard and white onions, and should be smothered in sweet pickle relish with a touch of mint.  Next added are a couple of peppers, some tomatoes, a kosher dill pickle spear, and just a pinch of celery salt.  My very favorite version includes an all-beef “char-dog” where the hot dog is grilled over charcoal.  Now that is the penultimate hot dog treat! You would think Continue reading