Countdown: 18 days to HLC visit: Assessment
Editor's note: Ranger Today continues a series of articles on the future directions contained within the university's self-study.
Future Direction: Integration and Sustainability of Assessment
By Kim Kelley, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Institutional Effectiveness
The Academic Achievement Assessment Committee (AAAC) has worked collaboratively with the Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE) and Director of Assessment Theresa Castor to make substantial progress forward with the assessment of student learning outcomes at UW-Parkside. One supportive initiative for making progress on assessment is the Higher Learning Commission's Student Learning Outcomes Academy (HLC-SLO) which brought together faculty and staff to develop a plan to continuously improve UW-P's assessment practices, document successes, and support the work of the AAAC.
Initially, two strategic plan mini-grants were obtained which supported faculty stipends to develop program-level assessment plans within the departments. The mini-grants also helped establish the faculty liaison program, where one faculty member in each department took responsibility to ensure the department made progress on identifying student learning goals, developed a plan to assess at least one goal, and obtained and analyzed data regarding their goal(s) to support student learning and success.
Further, the AAAC worked with OIE, and the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC), to provide training and support for the work of the faculty on assessment. One highlight of the efforts of AAAC and HLC-SLO was the presentation and subsequent discussions with Susan Hatfield that provided faculty support in understanding assessment more deeply and gave them insights into how to assess student learning outcomes simply and effectively.
Much has been accomplished in developing program-level learning goals within each major and assessing those goals to highlight successes in student outcomes and identify opportunities for program improvement. Another milestone achieved through the work of the AAAC is that the UW-P Faculty Senate reviewed and approved university-wide shared learning goals that support the university's goal to provide an education grounded in the liberal arts.
The goals selected: communication, reasoned judgment, and social and personal responsibility, will ensure that learning in the major builds on the students' exposure to these concepts in the General Education program, and will support the university's goals of developing graduates who have both content knowledge and skills that enhance their ability to be flexible, to be prepared to contribute to society, attend graduate school or obtain employment.
The university's faculty has achieved several successes regarding assessment policies and practices. Their efforts and successes will be highlighted Friday, April 12, at the Assessment Showcase taking place in conjunction with First Friday and starting at 3:30 p.m. The diversity and successes achieved are impressive and show the power and purpose of assessing student learning. The faculty's work shows thoughtful research and collection of evidence that highlights the quality of the faculty and a UW-P degree.
At the same time, the self-study also highlighted that work needs to continue after the completion of the self-study process and after the HLC Evaluation Team completes their visit in May. Continued faculty support, resources for ensuring assessment activities can be continued, and institutional policies and procedures for collecting and reporting data for assessment need to be strengthened. The need for assessment data will continue, and is an essential element of program review. Further, it is an important demonstration of the value of a UW-Parkside degree and correlates with greater student success.
The campus has achieved a great deal. Going forward, assessment will need to be integral to strategic and academic plans, and resourced sufficiently to ensure the required HLC milestones are achieved and the work of the faculty continues and is supported and recognized.
Again, you are invited to the First Friday/Assessment Showcase Friday, April 12, at 3:30 p.m. in the Faculty/Staff Lounge, second floor of the Library. Faculty liaisons will share their program's assessment project, outcomes, and next steps in the form of a set of posters. The posters show the breadth, depth, talent, and energy the liaisons have put forth to demonstrate the quality teaching and learning occurring at this university. An award will be presented by Chancellor Ford and Provost Ebeid and there will be a People's Choice Award.
Please stop by, if only briefly, to review the posters, speak with the faculty representing their departments, and thank them for their hard work to develop and implement these projects. There will be food! There will be voting! Come out and show your support!