October 2012

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I’m sure you noticed, the Fall semester began with a bang.

Two events in particular – an Academic Leadership Summit for deans, chairs, and directors at the Touch of Nature and a workshop on assessment across campus – made for much of the excitement we have already experienced this semester.

This edition of Assessment Showcase is devoted to highlighting the speakers who shared with faculty and staff their understanding of assessment, how it works, and why it matters.

First, Karen Solomon from the Higher Learning Commission talked at the Summit about student learning as an essential marker of a program’s academic quality. In short, assessment enables us to document that quality and improve on it. Our accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission holds us accountable to that basic principle in higher education.

Similarly, Drew Bergerson and Nathan Lindsay from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, shared their perspectives on assessment at a workshop for faculty in the Student Center and in a series of meetings with deans, chairs, staff, and department faculty elsewhere. We learned much from UMKC’s example.

So it was an animated first couple of weeks. If you want to see what you missed or to relive the lively discussions, check out the weblinks in the stories below.

Jim Allen
Associate Provost for Academic Programs



Navigating A New Landscape

Karen J. Solomon, Ed.D. Vice President for Accreditation Relations
The Higher Learning Commission of NCA

Karen J. Solomon has served as a Higher Learning Commission liaison to more than 180 member institutions and works with another dozen institutions involved in the eligibility process. She is a co-leader and presenter of HLC and national workshops on assessment of student learning, partnering, distance education, web-based services, and development of international accreditation processes. Solomon has served as a paid consultant on assessment of student learning, adult learning programs, and development of international accreditation processes.

At an Academic Leadership Summit in August, Dr. Solomon provided the deans, associate deans, directors and chairs with information regarding how the University should navigate the changing landscape in higher education. Please take the time to view her presentation “Navigating A New Landscape,” since all faculty will need to play an active part in order for this navigation to succeed.

One of the ways that the University’s landscape is changing has to do with HLC accreditation. All accredited institutions will be required to choose a Pathway.  Karen discussed the different options.  Additional information can also be found on the Higher Learning Commission website

As part of the new accreditation Pathways, institutions are asked:

            What do you most want your students to learn?
            Is it the relevant, appropriate “right” learning?
            Are they learning it?
            Are you doing for students what you claim you do?

Karen’s presentation made it apparent that the answer to these questions is assessment for student learning.  Notice how I stressed the word “for.” In the past, institutions did assessment of student learning.  The new emphasis will be on assessing programs to determine how they are using the data they collect to improve existing curricula, thereby adding value to the student’s educational experience. One way to determine this will require programs to demonstrate how they ensure shared responsibility for student learning and assessment of student learning. That is to say, are all program faculty involved in the process? And do they understand the importance of closing the loop?

Karen stressed the importance of transparency and accountability. Programs will need to provide evidence of what and how well their students are learning and succeeding in comparison to peer institutions.  Again, this can be accomplished with assessment activities at the program level.

It was heartening to hear an expert of Dr. Solomon’s caliber stress the importance of assessment for student learning.  As one participant put it, “it was excellent to bring her… it was extremely valuable to me.”

Sharon Walters, Ph.D.
Assessment and Program Review


Assessment Best Practices Workshop

To assist programs in completing their annual assessment report, two colleagues from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Nathan Lindsay, Assistant Provost for Assessment, and Drew Bergerson, Professor of History and Assessment Fellow, provided an interactive workshop on “Best Practices in Assessment” on September 5.

Description: Drew_Bergerson_3.jpgAndrew ‘Drew’ Bergerson, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of History 
University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC)

Drew Bergerson completed his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago focusing on modern German history. After a year as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Franklin & Marshall College, he joined the history department at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, in 1999. An historian of everyday life, Drew’s interdisciplinary research focuses on the “big” consequences of “little” ways of being, believing, and behaving. His first book, Ordinary Germans in Extraordinary Times (2004), investigated the role of ordinary Germans in the Nazi revolution. His co-authored, second book, The Happy Burden of History(2011), explores the possibilities for historical responsibility in light of modern German lives and letters. Drew’s interest in assessment arises from his commitment to teaching, his love of intellectual collaboration, and his deep respect for constructive, spirited debate.

Nathan Lindsay, Ph.D.Nathan Lindsay Assistant Vice Provost for Assessment 
University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC)

Nathan Lindsay is the Assistant Vice Provost for Assessment at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), where he coordinates all assessment activities for the university related to student learning outcomes. He also serves as an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Higher Education program at UMKC. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and previously was the Director of Student Life Assessment at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW).  He has published more than 20 articles and given over 50 national presentations.  His research interests include efforts to enhance the holistic development of students, the improvement of learning and teaching, and the integration of technology into higher education contexts.

Drew and Nathan’s visit to campus was an extremely busy, but rewarding day and a half for assessment.  If you missed the workshops or the targeted meetings, the presentations and handouts have been uploaded to the Assessment and Program Review Resources web page.

Drew and Nathan walked the attendees through the process for completing an annual plan. The forms they distributed are very similar to the new assessment plan template or assessment report template that programs will be completing this fall. 

planPlease remember, programs are only required to submit an assessment plan every four (4) years. However, programs must submit annual assessment reports based on the approved assessment plan. Programs should review their existing assessment plan with the faculty to determine whether revisions are required based on the findings.  Please contact us if you are unsure of which template to complete.

Survey responses to Drew and Nathan’s meetings were universally positive. One participant opined, “Wow, what guys! Do they ever sleep?” Certainly not on the job.

Sharon Walters, Ph.D.
Assessment and Program Review 

You Should Know...

New Leadership logo

This month’s newsletter from the New Leaders Alliance for Excellence in Student Learning and Accountability (a leading national advocate of assessment) contains an article that discusses Assuring Quality. There's a widespread recognition that higher education must do more and be more intentional about stating outcomes and gathering, reporting, and using evidence to improve student learning. Click on the link above to read the article.

National Institute for Learning Outcomes' Logo

The September, 2012 newsletter from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) contains a timely and interesting occasional paper, “The Seven Red Herrings About Standardized Assessment in Higher Education.” The newsletter and website contain a wealth of information regarding assessment and transparency.


Each month we will present what we believe to be practical information regarding assessment practices. However, because we believe assessment works best when feedback is sought, we encourage you to submit any questions regarding any aspect of the assessment process (i.e., at the course level, department level, college level, etc.) to us at assess@siu.edu. We will attempt to answer these questions in the following month’s newsletter and post them on our website under FAQs.

Bragging Rights

Have you heard?

Lt Col Melanie Friedman, Detachment Commander of Air Force ROTC, was proud to announce that her unit had 25 cadets selected to attend the summer Field Training program at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, out of the 30 she submitted. Four of the cadets came back with top honors. Cadet Erik Peters was #1 of 22 cadets, earning the title of Top Gun. Cadets Ryan May and Austin Wendt were #3 out of 26 and 28 cadets, respectively, earning the title of Distinguished Graduate; and Cadet Brittany Beardsley was #5 of 28, earning the title of Superior Performer.  Thank you, Lt Col Friedman, for the chance to brag about your outstanding cadets. CONGRATULATIONS!

Does your department or college have something related to assessment or program review it would like to brag about?  If yes, please e-mail and let us know.

Upcoming Spotlights


Next month we will share information about some upcoming workshops and brown bag luncheons, plus provide step-by-step directions on completing a curriculum map for your program.