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1 Assurance of Learning in Business Schools: Observations, Implementation Issues & Guidance Thomas G. Calderon Chair & Professor of Accounting/ Director,

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Presentation on theme: "1 Assurance of Learning in Business Schools: Observations, Implementation Issues & Guidance Thomas G. Calderon Chair & Professor of Accounting/ Director,"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Assurance of Learning in Business Schools: Observations, Implementation Issues & Guidance Thomas G. Calderon Chair & Professor of Accounting/ Director, CBA Quality Assessment College of Business Administration The University of Akron Akron, OH 44325-4802 Email: tcalderon@uakron.edu Tel: 330 972-6228tcalderon@uakron.edu Material for this presentation is based on my experience in leading assessment projects since 1996, my various research projects, the AAAs Teaching & Curriculum Sections Best Practices in Accounting Program Assessment (Calderon, Green & Harkness) and Kathryn Martell & Thomas G. Calderon, Assessment of Student Learning in Business Schools: Best Practices, Each Step of the Way. Vol. 1&2. AIR/AACSB. 2005. http://aacsb.edu/resource_centers/assessment/default.asp http://aacsb.edu/resource_centers/assessment/default.asp APLG/FSA 2006 Annual Seminar February 12–14, 2006 http://aaahq.org/aplg/seminars/2006/program.htm

2 2 About this Presentation This presentation covers: – Assurance of Learning Fundamentals – Six Observations on Assurance of Learning – Lessons learned from each observation The presentation offers practical guidance for implementing assurance of learning projects and identifies key issues that need attention

3 3 Congruency, Alignment & Change Learning goals for each program determined by the faculty and based on the programs mission Curriculum alignment Evidence showing that students are achieving programs learning goals Use evidence to initiate change and continuous improvement

4 4 Learning Goals Goals Objectives Outcomes

5 5 Curriculum Alignment What are the programs learning goals? Where in the curriculum are these goals addressed? What is taught and how are students assessed? Program Mission Program Learning Goals Courses /Co- Curr.

6 6 Curriculum Alignment – From AIS Course Learning Goal (Students Will….) Covered?Briefly describe what you do (how covered and how assessed) 1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of core accounting fundamentals (financial reporting, cost and management accounting, auditing, tax, and systems). YesThis course (i) covers the basic AIS concepts and principles, business processes, data modeling methods, systems documentation techniques, data normalization, database approaches, internal control frameworks, fraud, auditing computer based systems, and systems analysis and design issues (ii) applies various concepts and principles to the five transaction cycles (i.e., revenue, expenditure, payroll, manufacturing and financial cycles). Special emphasis is placed on COSO, SOX and CoBIT frameworks. 3. Demonstrate the ability to think creatively and apply their knowledge of accounting fundamentals in innovative ways. YesStudents work both individually and in groups to examine internal control issues in various accounting cycles. Further, students work in a semester long project on an emerging issue in AIS. As part of the requirements, students write a detailed report and make a formal presentation before the class. 6. Demonstrate ability to research an issue, analyze qualitative and quantitative data, and integrate information from multiple sources. YesThe semester long project requires students to research an emerging issue, analyze various issues and prepare a formal report. Students leverage Ohiolink sources, Web based sources and library to conduct research and analysis. Another assignment requires students to analyze SOX section 404 material weaknesses in selected companies 10K and 10Q reports accessed from the SECs website.

7 7 Evidence Not Course Grades Direct based on actual samples of students work linked to program learning objectives Indirect attitudes, opinions and assumptions about learning linked to program learning objectives Must be public shared with faculty in the program Must be based on individual student performance unless assessing teamwork May be shared with students

8 8 Closing the loop Analyze and report evidence Share evidence with faculty and stakeholders Discuss evidence and implications Use evidence in decision making processes Act on evidence, propose improvements Implement proposals and continuously improve

9 9 Plan Before You Leap! Before starting, develop an assessment plan that includes: – Learning objectives – Evidence to be used – Method to collect evidence – Desired expectations – Who is primarily responsible for collecting evidence – When and how will evidence be reported, discussed and used Follow the plan

10 10 Observations and Practical Lessons Six Observations on Assurance of Learning Lessons learned from each observation Examples and implementation ideas

11 11 Assessment and the apparent dominance of indirect evidence Observation 1: – Business schools and accounting programs use multiple types of evidence to assess learning – Indirect evidence appears to dominate

12 12 Assessment and the apparent dominance of indirect evidence Type of EvidenceFrequency Percent (N=160)Type Student Survey11471Indirect Alumni Survey10666Indirect Required Capstone or Senior Project9258Direct Business Advisory Board input8855Indirect Employer Survey8352Indirect Syllabi Review7748Indirect ETS Major Field Test6641Direct EBI surveys6038Indirect Course embedded assessment with program standards (rubric)5937Direct Student Interviews5534Indirect Student GPAs4528Indirect Focus Groups4126Indirect

13 13 Assessment and the apparent dominance of indirect evidence Lesson 1: Recognize important characteristics of assessment evidence – Must be appropriate within the context of the schools mission – Focus is on degree program – Must relate to specific learning objectives – Place emphasis on direct evidence of student learning – Use indirect evidence to supplement direct evidence

14 14 Critical pragmatism vs. scientific orthodoxy in evidence collection Observation 2: – Measurement is a concern for everyone – There is an inherent quest to measure learning – Measurement comes with certain connotations Precise Objective and Unbiased Representationally faithful Valid and reliable – Assessment data are sometimes criticized as unreliable and unscientific, having high inter-rater variability, and difficult to develop and use

15 15 Critical pragmatism vs. scientific orthodoxy in evidence collection Lesson 2: Recognize vital evidence collection and analysis issues – Root evidence collection and measurement in common sense and use evidence that facilitate dialogue and understanding of student learning. – Avoid fixation on traditional validity concepts; rather employ the contemporary holistic approach to validity – validity in use. – Be aware of possible scoring variability among different raters. How much are you willing to accept?

16 16 Critical pragmatism vs. scientific orthodoxy in evidence collection Lesson 2 Continued: Recognize vital evidence collection and analysis issues – Build consensus at alignment stage and in planning for assessment (e.g., standardized rubric development) – Have dialogue and invest time to develop a shared understanding of evidence and traits – Employ observable behavioral checklists rather than traditional Likert scales with inherently wide variability.

17 17 TRAITGoodSatisfactoryNot Acceptable Recognizes own personal biases that can influence decision making outcomes. States assumptions and identifies and clarifies personal beliefs that may affect decision outcomes States assumptions and identifies but does not clarify personal beliefs that may affect decision outcomes Does not state assumptions or does not identify personal beliefs that may affect decision outcomes Learns from history by including a discussion from the past where managers faced similar ethical issues. Demonstrates a good appreciation for prior history where managers faced similar ethical issues Demonstrates a fair appreciation for prior history where managers faced similar ethical issues Does not include a discussion of prior history where managers faced similar ethical issues Limits the expression of self-interest and other outcomes of marketplace logic. Demonstrates substantive constraint in the expression of self interest and other outcomes of market- place logic Demonstrates some constraint in the expression of self interest and other outcomes of market-place logic Demonstrates no constraint in the expression of self interest and other outcomes of market- place logic Abstains from the tendency to justify the means by virtue of the end. Clearly abstains from tendency to justify the means by virtue ends. Issues are clearly considered and decision- making is mindful of this tendency. Shows awareness of the tendency to justify the means by virtue of the end but actions to avoid the tendency are not very deliberate Does not abstain from the tendency to justify the means by virtue of the end Adapted from Fogarty 2005

18 18 A Hypothetical Summary of Evidence Based on a Standardized Rubric TRAITNGoodSatisfactoryNot Acceptable Recognizes own personal biases that can influence decision making outcomes. 20030 (15%) 160 (80%) 10 (5%) Learns from history by including a discussion from the past where managers faced similar ethical issues. 20022 (11%) 88 (44%) 90 (45%) Limits the expression of self-interest and other outcomes of marketplace logic. 20040 (20%) 100 (50%) 60 (30%) Abstains from the tendency to justify the means by virtue of the end. 20036 (18%) 160 (80%) 4 (2%) Average16%64%21%

19 19 The assessors dilemma and course- embedded assessment Observation 3 : – Assessment is useful and necessary – Assessment requires resources, commitment, and attention At many schools, students complete a battery of assessment center activities as part of a required course (Bommer, Rubin & Bartles 2005). Rockhurst University invested significant sums to create an infrastructure to support course embedded assessment (Bassett, Daley, Haefele 2005). Many schools administer assessment activities in the capstone course (e.g., Business Strategy & Policy courses at The University of Akron) Surveys used by many schools are costly and generate reams of data (e.g., EBI) Assessment evidence gathering, analysis and reporting require significant time commitments Accounting departments spent less than $5,000 in 2000 and 60% said they had no resources for assessment in 2004 (Hindi & Miller 2000; Calderon et al. 2004) Assessors (faculty) need time for other valued activities

20 20 The assessors dilemma and course embedded assessment Specialized assessment activities (e.g., assessment center, assessment day, special tests) …Generally more overhead UA uses the following in-house tests: The CCT (core curriculum test) Major field tests in finance Major field test in accounting Major field test in marketing Attitudes & Opinions - Surveys, interviews, focus groups ………Generally more overhead UA uses the following: EBI surveys Graduating students exit surveys Employer surveys Alumni surveys Advisory board reviews Course-embedded assessment (done as part of regular, on-going activities in a course) …………. Generally less overhead UA uses the following: Management Projects Cases, simulations and projects Writing samples and writing portfolios DIRECTINDIRECT

21 21 The assessors dilemma and course embedded assessment Lesson 3: Course-embedded assessment (CEA) transforms the evidence collection process from a potentially burdensome activity to one that is part of normal classroom activity – Create a support infrastructure for CEA Consensus, Classroom Activities, Training, Instruments, & Medium for Reporting and Dialogue (CATIM) – Focus on program learning goals rather than learning goals for a specific course – Make achievement of program learning goals public – Use incentives to generate faculty interest in CEA – e.g., Rockhurst

22 22 Data reporting and active engagement vs. data hoarding and passive compliance Observation 4 – Close to 75 percent of business school deans report that their faculty discuss assessment data regularly at faculty meetings. – Most do so at least once each academic year. – USAF Academy reports data to faculty regularly and have dialogue on how data compare with expectations – Seton Hall and Ohio Northern prepare an annual assessment report for faculty – Kings College sets aside an Assessment Day for faculty to make presentations on assessment results.

23 23 Data reporting and active engagement vs. data hoarding and passive compliance How programs report results? Percent (N=105) Faculty retreat 26 Regular faculty meetings 69 Departmental meetings 44 Committee meetings 44 Oral reports 25 Written reports 50 Special faculty meeting 14 N=160 vs. N=105? Implications

24 24 Data reporting and active engagement vs. data hoarding and passive compliance Lesson 4: Assessment reports are the basis for dialogue, reflection, and proposals for change – Offer relatively seamless opportunities for viewing and reviewing reports (e.g., WebCT) – Discuss reports regularly – Identify opportunities for improvement – Create a set of action items after discussions

25 25 A Hypothetical Summary of Evidence Based on a Standardized Rubric TRAITNGoodSatisfactoryNot Acceptable Recognizes own personal biases that can influence decision making outcomes. 20030 (15%) 160 (80%) 10 (5%) Learns from history by including a discussion from the past where managers faced similar ethical issues. 20022 (11%) 88 (44%) 90 (45%) Limits the expression of self-interest and other outcomes of marketplace logic. 20040 (20%) 100 (50%) 60 (30%) Abstains from the tendency to justify the means by virtue of the end. 20036 (18%) 160 (80%) 4 (2%) Average16%64%21%

26 26 Visualization and improvement opportunities Observation 5: Some schools use innovative charts and graphs to focus faculty attention (e.g., Redle & Calderon 2005)

27 27 Trends in U of Akrons Major Test in Finance

28 28

29 29 Lesson 5: Attention directing graphs and charts lead to more focused assessment dialogue – Oriented toward problem-solving – Focus may include : Assessment method Faculty development Student Classroom teaching and learning methods Teaching resources and the physical infrastructure for learning Learning goals and curriculum alignment Visualization and improvement opportunities

30 30 Closing the Loop Percent (N=143) No42 Yes58 Total100 Observation 6: Has assessment led to significant curriculum changes?

31 31 Closing the loop 36% of business schools report that they have a formal written assessment plan Schools with a formal plan are more likely than those without to report success in using assessment to improve the curriculum (Chi- square=4.77, DF=1, p-value=.02)

32 32 Closing the loop Lesson 6: Plan before you leap!!! – Powerful tool for effective management and communication of assessment activities. – Guides schools through each major assessment activity – A basic plan could be designed as a grid that includes columns for: program learning objectives assessment methods to be used in collecting evidence about student learning for each objective identification of the measurement metrics and expectations for each learning goal a procedure for administering the assessment activity a time line for implementation List of persons responsible for coordinating data collection

33 33 Assessment Plan – A Basic Example Students will:Method used/ Evidence ExpectationsAssessment ProcedurePrimary Responsibility of Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of core accounting fundamentals (financial, cost, systems, auditing, taxation) Method: Major Field Test in Accounting (MFTA) -- -(75 MC questions) Evidence: Raw percentage scores on the MFTA - Satisfactory value-added (45%) - Satisfactory raw scores on the post- test (70%) - Satisfactory achievement on each cognitive learning goals - Computerized Pre/Post Test. - Pre-test administered in first accounting course -Post-test administered in accounting capstone - Consistent incentives and awards (e.g., 5% of grade in capstone) Department Chair Demonstrate ability to apply core accounting fundamentals through case analyses and projects. Method: Course- embedded case/project to demonstrate ability to apply accounting fundamentals Evidence: Ratings for individual students based on standardized rubric developed for the program by the faculty - At least satisfactory rating on all traits in the standardized rubric - Overall, 70% perform at least at the satisfactory level - Relatively short case/project that span multiple areas in accounting - Students analyze cases or complete project as part of requirements capstone. - Case analyzes/project are rated by instructor and a panel of professionals Faculty who teach the accounting capstone course

34 34 Conclusion Assessment is effective if it leads to congruency, alignment and change Assessment must be planned, supported, and executed in a systematic manner Assessment is a systematic and deliberate extension of what faculty normally do Keep what you do simple Avoid fixations!


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