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

Conference Debrief

04/22/16 ©JCCC

Another year, another great conference!  It was wonderful to get to visit with so many colleagues at the Regional Assessment Conference on April 22.  I heard a range of presentations on campus assessment initiatives and strategies, enjoyed a dynamic keynote address (Dr. Jillian Kinzie rocks!), and ultimately came away invigorated— with a host of ideas for moving forward on my own campus. As we’ve taken time to catch up this past week, I’ve been working on my “to-do” list.  After digging my conference room and office out from under all of RCCAC 2016 materials, I pulled together some takeaways from this year’s conference: Assessment works! Kinzie shared some excellent stories and examples of colleagues and institutions that are closing the loop on assessment and making strides in student learning. (Be sure to revisit her presentation under the “RCCAC Keynote 2016” tab above.) There are multiple assessment roads. My colleagues and I shared lots of assessment strategies that have worked well Continue reading Conference Debrief



I am taking a big car trip this summer and am really enjoying making all the plans.  Traveling with me will be my school-age niece and nephew. We have been poring over maps, deciding on destinations and hotels, and determining how often we will need to stop to avoid the “are we there yet” cries from the backseat.  All fun stuff! If you are registered for the 6th Annual Regional Community College Assessment Conference, you should be finalizing your plans about now.  So here is some free advice to make the most of your conference experience. Take a look at the program in advance to scope out the sessions you would most like to attend. Also, be sure and pack lots of business cards to share with colleagues and vendors.  I encourage you to share your conference experience as it happens via live-tweeting at  #RCCAC16. Follow us at @JCCCOOA But most importantly, come prepared to be challenged and invigorated by what your Continue reading Logistics!

Using Mastery Learning to Bridge Gaps


Mention Kellogg to me and it’s a sure bet I will think of Tony the Tiger and Frosted Flakes.  But cereal will not be the focus when Shannon McGregor from Des Moines Area Community College presents a session entitled, “Using Mastery Learning to Bridge Critical Analysis Gaps in Composition Classes: A Study for the Kellogg Institute.”  This interesting breakout will focus on best practices and policies related to developmental education and is based on the time spent by the presenter at the Kellogg Institute. The Kellogg Institute for Adult and Developmental Educators and Learning Skills Specialists is the nation’s longest running professional development program for practitioners who serve underprepared and underserved college students and is housed at Appalachian State University.  By the way, you don’t have to be in developmental education to gain something from this session because it introduces attendees to the rich research and plentiful resources available through the institute while showing how techniques can be adapted across a writing program and the college Continue reading Using Mastery Learning to Bridge Gaps