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Why assess? The benefits of assessment for student learning Presented by Jennifer Fager, PhD Director of Assessment University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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Presentation on theme: "Why assess? The benefits of assessment for student learning Presented by Jennifer Fager, PhD Director of Assessment University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why assess? The benefits of assessment for student learning Presented by Jennifer Fager, PhD Director of Assessment University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Indiana State University 3/23/12

2 What is Assessment exactly? Assessment is the ongoing process of: Establishing clear, measurable expected outcomes of student learning. Ensuring that students have sufficient opportunities to achieve those outcomes. Systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well student learning matches our expectations. Using the resulting information to understand and improve student learning. How do you know that students at Indiana State University are getting more from day one?

3 The Assessment Process Establish Learning Outcomes Provide Opportunities for Learning (Map outcomes to the curriculum) Assess Student Learning Use the Results

4 Traditional and Contemporary Ways of Thinking about Assessment Contemporary ApproachesTraditional Approaches Aligned with OutcomesOutcomes are not considered in planning Focus on thinking and performance skillsOften focus is on memorized knowledge Research on best practices on teaching and assessment methodologies are used to develop assessment instruments Often poor quality as some faculty have not had the opportunity to learn how to design and develop assessment instruments Results are used to improve teaching and learning as well as to evaluate and assign grades Grading only Used to tell an institutions storyStores are based on anecdotal information

5 Tell Your Story What do you know about Indiana State University, your college, your department, your program, or your course as a result of assessment? Your Goals: Increase enrollment and student success Advance Experiential Learning Enhance Community Engagement Strengthen and Leverage Programs of Distinction and Promise Diversity Revenue: Philanthropy, Contracts and Grants Recruit and retain great faculty and staff

6 Three Views of Assessment View 1 Assessment is a process in which those responsible for student learning on campus collect, analyze, and use information about student learning to improve it. Who is responsible for student learning at Indiana State University?

7 Three Views of Assessment View 2 Outcomes-assessment practices in higher education are grotesque, unintentional parodies of both social science and accountability. No matter how much they purport to be about standards or student needs, they are in fact scams run by bloodless bureaucrats who…do not understand the holistic nature of a good college education. What does a good college education look like at ISU? Laurie Fendrich, A Pedagogical Straightjacket, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 8, 2007, B6.

8 Three Views of Assessment View 3 The real culprit is the education establishments continuing reluctance to give the public a clear and accurate glimpse at how colleges spend their money. How do your stakeholders know students have learned what they expect them to learn? John A. Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, though said as Chair, House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

9 Commitment or Compliance? Effective assessment becomes a matter of commitment to the improvement of learning by improving the processes that produce it. Effective assessment focuses on how data can be used to improve, not on how it can be reported. Effective assessment focuses on inquiry rather than evidence. In that sense, effective assessment is at the heart of what we do as academic institutions.

10 The New Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission-The New Criteria 4.A. The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs. 1. The institution maintains a practice of regular program reviews. 2. The institution evaluates all the credit that it transcripts, including what it awards for experiential learning or other forms of prior learning. 3. The institution has policies that assure the quality of the credit it accepts in transfer. 4. The institution maintains and exercises authority over the prerequisites for courses, rigor of courses, expectations for student learning, access to learning resources, and faculty qualifications for all its programs, including dual credit programs. It assures that its dual credit courses or programs for high school students are equivalent in learning outcomes and levels of achievement to its higher education curriculum. 5. The institution maintains specialized accreditation for its programs as appropriate to its educational purposes. 6. The institution evaluates the success of its graduates. The institution assures that the degree or certificate programs it represents as preparation for advanced study or employment accomplish these purposes. For all programs, the institution looks to indicators it deems appropriate to its mission, such as employment rates, admission rates to advanced degree programs, and participation rates in fellowships, internships, and special programs (e.g., Peace Corps and Americorps). 4.B. The institution demonstrates a commitment to educational achievement and improvement through ongoing assessment of student learning. 1. The institution has clearly stated goals for student learning and effective processes for assessment of student learning and achievement of learning goals. 2. The institution assesses achievement of the learning outcomes that it claims for its curricular and co-curricular programs. 3. The institution uses the information gained from assessment to improve student learning. 4. The institutions processes and methodologies to assess student learning reflect good practice, including the substantial participation of faculty and other instructional staff members.

11 The New Paradigm Shift from inputs to outcomes Shift from capacity to student learning Shift from processes to results Concern with learning and its improvement infuses all criteria Focus on shared responsibility Focus on accountability, but not on reporting for its own sake Concentration on continuous improvement

12 What Regional Accrediting Agencies Expect The Consortium of Regional Accrediting Commissions Report (2003) The institution defines quality by how well it fulfills its declared learning mission. The institution documents student learning by Setting clear learning goals Collecting evidence of attainment Applying collective judgment as to the meaning and utility of evidence Using evidence to effect improvement It uses multiple sources and kinds of evidence It shares results with stakeholders

13 Higher Learning Commission Statement on Assessment of Student Learning Assessments effectiveness in improving student learning relies on its integration into the organizations processes for program review, departmental and organizational planning, and unit and organizational budgeting.

14 Some Broad Themes Emphasis on student learning Focus shifts from content and inputs to outcomes General emphasis on improvement over reporting Consideration of stakeholders Focus on use of data and integration into institutional processes

15 Six Fundamental Assessment Student Learning Questions How are your stated student learning outcomes appropriate to your mission, programs, and degrees? What evidence do you have that students achieve your stated learning outcomes? In what ways do you analyze and use evidence of student learning?

16 Six Fundamental Assessment Student Learning Questions How do you ensure shared responsibility for student learning? How do you evaluate and improve the effectiveness of your efforts to assess and improve student learning? In what ways do you inform the public about what students learnand how they learn it?

17 Assessment Should Be Meaningful Useful Workable Reasonable

18 Assessment Myths Assessment is a necessary evil Assessment is something we have to do for the HLC Assessment plans try to turn all of us into social scientists Assessment makes no sense at all in the humanities Assessment is measurement of the trivial

19 Assessment Myths If I keep my head down, someone else, probably my chair, will get stuck with all this assessment, and they will go away for 10 years. Program assessment can and will be used against me. Assessment is an intrusion on academic freedom. Assessment should prove that our program is successful. Assessment is another one of those top-down initiatives with no faculty input.

20 Assessment IS A process based upon inquiry Predicated on clear delineation of student learning outcomes A form of action research A way to improve learning A way to improve the systems that produce learning A way to demonstrate effectiveness to various stakeholders A process focused on change for improvement, not on institutional self- justification

21 How can we make it work at Indiana State University? Be involvedits everyones job Be engagedunderstand the relationship between your discipline and your role in the development of outcomes Develop a structure that works for you Capitalize on existing strengths, structures, and processes Perform an evidence inventory Talk about the assessment process regularly

22 Whats in it for me? Assessment clarifies educational goals It is a vehicle for educational improvement It is NOT just measurement BIG QUESTIONS What does Indiana State University value in student learning? How can Indiana State University improve student success?

23 Whats in it for me? Assessment reflects learning and actual practice as well as provide a complete and accurate picture of student learning BIG QUESTIONS What are the Indiana State University students able to do when they complete your programs? What is happening in my classroom that reflects what we as a faculty expect of our graduates?

24 Whats in it for me? Assessment attends to outcomes and experiences It helps us understand which students learn best under specific conditions It helps improve student learning BIG QUESTIONS What do Indiana State University Students do upon completion of the social work program? How does experiential learning improve community engagement?

25 Whats in it for me? Assessment works best when it is ongoing not episodic Improvement occurs when a linked series of activities/assessments are included BIG QUESTIONS How does Indiana State University track student progress in meeting the goals of experiential learning? How does the data we have gathered on experiential learning impact the social work program? What data does the English department need to determine whether students are learning?

26 Whats in it for me? Assessment promotes change Assessment contributions are greatest where quality teaching and learning is visibly valued Assessment is an integral part of education and is regularly addressed by faculty and others BIG QUESTIONS How often do you discuss assessment at department/unit meetings? What help is needed to promote change?

27 Americas Got Talent! (Do we really?) In anticipation of the upcoming summer TV lineup, Piers Morgan has decided to resign from Americas Got Talent (AGT for those of you in the loop) and you are his replacement along side Howey Mandel and Sharon Osborne. How will you decide where an act should go through to the next round of AGT? What do you think, as a judge, a million-dollar act should look like? Remember, the winner will headline in Vegasperforming a two-hour show night after night competing with Elvis impersonators, Celine Dion, Cirque du Soleil, and Elton John. What factors are important to you in determining whether an act has talent? What evidence exits to demonstrate talent? How will you verify the validity of our decision?

28 Indiana State Universitys Got Talent! (ISUGT) What factors are important to you in determining whether a student has learned what you intend for them to learn? What evidence exists to demonstrate he/she has learned? How will you verify the validity of your decision?

29 Challenges and Solutions ChallengesRankPossible Solutions Lack of Faculty buy-in No feedback loop Little or no professional development available Poor template or instructions Not linked to change Lack of support Other

30 Conclusions Assessment is valuable to those who value assessment. It is never perfect, and thats OK. The best advice: You cant fatten a cow by weighing her.

31 References Consulted on Institutional Effectiveness/Assessment/ on Institutional Effectiveness/Assessment/ Allen, M.J. (2004). Assessing academic programs in higher education. Bolton, MA: Anker. Banta, T.W., Jones, E.A. & Black, K.E. (2009). Designing effective assessment: Principles and profiles of good practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Banta, T.W. (2002). Building a scholarship of assessment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Suskie, L. (2009). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide, 2 nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Walvoord, B.E. (2010). Assessment clear and simple: A practical guide for institutions, departments, and general education, 2 nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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