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



“Level” (noun) a device used for determining or adjusting something to a horizontal surface. (Dictionary.com) The building trades use levels extensively to make sure that the foundation upon which a building rests is completely square and on the level.  Building upon an uneven or out-of-square foundation can cause long-term problems with cracks to the foundation and shifting of walls within the structure over time.  So being level is of critical importance in all phases of the construction of any structure. Starting an assessment process on the level can be equally important.  Metropolitan Community College has been endeavoring to build a foundation of assessment over the last five years that has improved outcomes, the discipline review process, and accountability for assessment. The college is now ready to “level up” with their general education outcomes.  In the next round of building their assessment structure, the college will evaluate assessment through meta-analysis by combining discipline assessment with CCSSEE results. Come to the Regional Continue reading Levels

Good Ideas


I love a good idea.  They often lead to great adventures, interesting people, or wonderful discoveries.  Sometimes a good idea just causes me to reexamine my own perceptions – which can also lead to an interesting discovery.   Institutions could sometimes benefit similarly from a good idea. Two sessions offered at the Regional Assessment Conference focus on ideas – or, in both of these cases, IDEA – Individual Development and Educational Assessment, which is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve learning in higher education through research, assessment and professional development. One service of IDEA is a Student Ratings of Instruction System that is designed to provide useful formative feedback. Both Park University’s Dean of the Business School, Dr. Brad Kleindl, and Independence Community College’s Director of Institutional Research, Debbie Phelps, will share how their institutions have integrated IDEA into their culture of assessment. The session by Park University features the use of programmatic competencies within a Total Quality Management Continue reading Good Ideas

Do It Yourself


My husband and I decided after 15 years in the same house that we were exceedingly tired of our kitchen.  The kitchen is original to the house which was built in 1964 and has gone through a few half-hearted face-lifts but truly needs to be gutted and reimagined.  The planning stage of this type of project is always the most fun.  We picked out flooring and cabinets, discussed paint colors and wall treatments.  That represents the fun part of Do-It-Yourself (DIY). The decidedly harder part is bringing these plans and choices to life. At the Assessment Conference next month, the Office of Outcomes Assessment will offer a breakout session to discuss some basic DIY strategies as they apply to assessment on campus. The tasks associated with building and then maintaining a culture of assessment necessarily change over time.  Sometimes you just need a little sprucing up with a quick touch-up here or there, and other times it is important to Continue reading Do It Yourself