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The Assessment Imperative: A Work in Progress A Focus on Competencies Ricky W. Griffin, Interim Dean Mays Business School Texas A&M University.

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Presentation on theme: "The Assessment Imperative: A Work in Progress A Focus on Competencies Ricky W. Griffin, Interim Dean Mays Business School Texas A&M University."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Assessment Imperative: A Work in Progress A Focus on Competencies Ricky W. Griffin, Interim Dean Mays Business School Texas A&M University

2 “Too many policymakers and educational leaders are focused on…tests rather than on what is really important: whether students are learning what they need to know.” - Robert Jones, President, Education & Workforce Policy

3 Survey: Business leaders suggest that 63 % of today’s graduates are not prepared to function in the global economy (USA Today, 1/23/08)

4 Survey: Business leaders suggest that less than 50% of today’s college graduates have the full set of skills and knowledge necessary to advance in today’s work environment (USA Today, 1/23/08)

5 Survey: Business leaders suggest that while most graduates are reasonably well prepared in a variety of areas, they are not exceptionally strong in any (USA Today, 1/23/08)

6 Clearly, a stronger understanding of desired learning outcomes and the assessment of learning related to those outcomes is an imperative that cannot be ignored.

7 The Mays Business School Story…

8 Our Environment Over 5,000 students Comprehensive programs: ◦ Undergraduate ◦ Masters ◦ MBA/Executive MBA ◦ Doctoral Research faculty and expectations

9 Identify Competencies Identify Assessment Priorities Gather Evidence Evaluate Results What do students need to succeed? Where can we gain maximum benefit/ improvement? Will vary based on competency selected “Close the loop”

10 How We Determined Core Competencies Prior research on competencies Professional disciplinary competencies (e.g., AICPA) University core competencies AASCB and SACS Standards Focus Groups ◦ Faculty ◦ Dean’s Development Council ◦ Dean’s Young Former Student Council ◦ Department and Program Advisory Councils

11 Mays Core Competencies Interdisciplinary foundation in business Discipline-specific competencies Communication skills (oral, electronic and written) Problem solving, critical thinking and analytical skills Creating new opportunities Ethical decision making Global and cultural awareness Leadership, management and teamwork

12 Prioritization from our “Customers” 1. What are we doing well? ◦ Discipline-specific competencies 2. Where do students need more exposure? ◦ Written communications ◦ Ethical decision making ◦ Holistic view of enterprise

13 Our Conclusions 1. Technical and disciplinary skills are in good shape 2. More focus on “soft skills” is needed  Generally not taught in our curriculum  Cannot assume that “somebody else” is doing this 3. Integrative framework  Allow students to understand importance of competencies  Recognize integration of competencies throughout coursework  Provide a more holistic understanding of the enterprise

14 Integration of Competencies Transitions Learning Communities LevelTransition ToStatus Freshman IndependenceEstablished Fall 2006 Sophomore InterdependenceEstablished Spr 2008 Junior ProfessionalismEstablished in Depts Senior CareerUnder Development Course Content at Each Level Assess current competency levels Apply and build competencies Document, reflect, and integrate in e-folios

15 Our Initial Decisions 1. Formally assess writing skills and ethical decision making skills 2. Design an integrative four-year learning community experience based on the competencies that cross disciplinary lines 3. Engage faculty in developing course outcomes and mapping them to all the competencies

16 Communication Assessment 1. Using a rubric we developed with the University Writing Center, we found that 88% of our juniors and seniors were meeting or exceeding our expectations (as defined by the faculty in the rubric). 2. When we discussed this finding with our employers, we discovered that our written assignments were quite different from the writing that recent graduates need to do. 3. Employers want us to work on e-mail, memos and letters, concentrating on skills such as tone, audience, persuasion, summarization, and synthesis.

17 Actions and Curriculum Impacts 1. Get over the fact that high schools aren’t teaching students to write well. 2. Work with the employers to obtain “real” samples of good and bad writing by their employees. 3. Work with the faculty to refine the writing learning objectives and rubrics. 4. Develop shorter writing assignments that address the needs of employers. 5. Develop a second required writing course at the sophomore level. 6. Emphasize importance of good writing in the integrative learning communities. 7. Create writing laboratory for students – Fall 2008

18 Ethics Assessment 1. Our freshmen are scoring below national norms on the Defining Issues Test of ethical decision-making maturity. 2. Our seniors in a 1 credit hour required business ethics course are scoring lower than the freshmen. 3. We claim we are teaching ethics in the core business classes, but a survey of seniors indicates too many don’t recall having any discussion of ethics in those classes

19 Actions and Curriculum Impacts 1. Core business courses  Identify ethics instruction in core business courses  Increase salience of ethics through inclusion on assignments and examinations (if you measure it and reward it…) 2. Required ethics course  Improve curriculum and pedagogy  Move from senior to sophomore level.

20 Next Steps 1. Examine the content and pedagogy of the capstone strategy course  Consider standardized test of “holistic” business understanding 2. Refine and assess the learning outcomes in all the core business courses to determine why employers complain about students’ narrow view of the enterprise.

21 Suggestions to Get the Ball Rolling 1. Involve external constituents (advisory boards) 2. Emphasize that you are doing this because “it is the right thing to do” not because “AACSB/SACS is making us do it” 3. Initially invest in one or two outcomes and do it right 4. Anticipate “fear and loathing” from faculty  Find “high profile” faculty champions 5. Assessment is not about evaluating teaching…it is about evaluating learning 6. Be honest about work load and rewards  Summer teaching proposal grants/programs

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