Main Content



James AllenThis newsletter marks the middle of the traditional academic year. So far, so good, at least for our students’ learning. There are good pedagogical reasons why higher education generally works in 15-week terms. If semesters were any longer, our students might forget everything they learned many months earlier.

One thing my office has learned this Fall is how very valuable are assessment-focused fellowships and internships. This issue of Assessment Showcase highlights the many contributions that our Assessment Fellows, Deb Barnett and Heather Brake in particular, have made.

Together Deb and Heather spearheaded the assessment use of OrgSnyc, a digital platform for tracking students’ co-curricular learning activities. As Sharon Walters, Anne Cooper Moore, and I discovered at the Assessment Institute last October, they are moving our collaborative work ahead of the national curve. There are very few other colleges or universities undertaking any similar assessment activities. Learn more about that below.

Another big step for assessment here is the transition to reporting through Sharepoint, a versatile document management system administered by IT.  As you may know, Sharepoint is a Microsoft product. It will transform the way programs submit their assessment plans and reports to the Office of Assessment and Program Review, thanks to the help of Arden Lockwood and her staff in IT’s Project Management Office.

The Sharepoint forms will be familiar – they aren’t changing – but the College-Wide Assessment Teams and the Co-Curricular Assessment Committee will have much easier access to them. In fact, these groups will use embedded rubrics to make responding to the reports much easier, as well.  In short, with Sharepoint, you will get much prompter and much better feedback on your assessment of student learning. The system will be more efficient and more useful to the faculty and staff as they ponder revisions to their programs. More about Sharepoint later.

Finally, please join us for our bi-monthly CAStLE luncheons this Spring. You’ll find a warm welcome from the other participants who want to learn what others are doing with assessment (and related issues). For me, these conversations were the highlight of many an otherwise dreary day in the office.  They remind me a lot of the generous rewards of teaching!

Hope your semester gets off to a great start. Thank you for all you do to promote our students’ learning.

Jim Allen
Associate Provost for Academic Programs


We are pleased with the success of the Provost Assessment Fellow Program. We were honored to have Dr. Christie McIntyre, associate professor, Early Childhood Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education and Human Services, and Dr. Ruth Anne Rehfeldt, professor, Behavior Analysis and Therapy, Rehabilitation Institute, College of Education and Human Services, serve as our first Provost Assessment Fellows during the spring 2015 semester. Although their fellowships have ended, both Drs. McIntyre and Rehfeldt are still very committed to assessment.  Dr. McIntyre has her ongoing work with Conversations About Student Learning and Engagement (CAStLE), and Dr. Rehfeldt has her continued involvement with the task force related to student learning in hybrid/off-campus courses and online courses with Heidi Jung, Instructional Design Specialist, Center for Teaching Excellence.

During the summer/fall 2015 semester, we were happy to have our first administrative/professional Provost Assessment Fellows, Dr. Deborah Barnett, coordinator, Non-Traditional Student Services, and Heather Brake, coordinator, office of Student Involvement.  They have accomplished a lot in a short amount of time and we are pleased that, like Drs. McIntyre and Rehfeldt, they plan to continue supporting us in our campus-wide assessment initiatives.

Deb BarnettHeather Brake
 Deb Barnett                        Heather Brake

1. What did you learn about assessment that you maybe didn’t know?

We learned that assessment is continually evolving in both the academic and co-curricular areas. There is so much that we can all learn from each other when we have opportunity to come together. We were appreciative of those opportunities to not only learn from our co-curricular partners, but also from faculty. We learned that there is much yet to learn!

We also learned that our project which seemed very intuitive to us, was actually a very innovative idea that many institutions and others are quite interested in. As a result of the work on this project, we received a select invitation to represent SIU as one of only 25 institutions nationwide who will gather in Washington, DC in January to discuss the idea of a comprehensive student record. This conversation is sponsored and led by National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) in collaboration with American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), and the Lumina Foundation.

2. What projects did you work on as fellow?

Consistent with our Assessment Fellow proposal, we worked toward identifying co-curricular learning opportunities on campus and finding ways to demonstrate and assess the learning that occurs in these programs. We were very intentional about linking co-curricular learning outcomes to general education outcomes to bridge the gap and create strong connections between academics and out-of-classroom learning. 

3. What did you like best about being an Assessment Fellow?

We enjoyed working with the Office of Assessment and Program Review to actually see our project become reality. Dr. Allen and his staff provided unique opportunities for us to meet with and learn from multiple stakeholders on campus during our initial research and program development. These conversations with groups of faculty and staff were very helpful in gaining diverse perspectives that strengthened the program.

In addition to our faculty and staff discussions, the best thing about being an Assessment Fellow was that, with the guidance and support of Dr. Allen and Dr. Walters, we saw our proposal grow into what is now called the SIU Advantage which is scheduled to launch spring 2016!

4. What would you change?

We wouldn’t change a thing! It was an excellent growing experience for us as professionals!

5. Do you have any recommendations for the next Assessment Fellows?

Have a clear goal, set a plan to meet consistently with Dr. Allen and his staff, and be prepared for those meetings. We credit the progress made to these three things which allowed us to stay focused and on track.



This community of professional learners meets bi-monthly for lunch, not only to discuss issues related to student learning, but also to provide feedback on current assessment methods, to share best practices, to discuss assessment-driven pedagogy, and to give co-curricular specialists a chance to share with academic units.

We are currently in the process of planning CAStLE events for the spring 2016 semester and would appreciate your input regarding topics and dates.  We would appreciate your taking the time (should be no more than five minutes) to complete the short CAStLE Planning Event survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CAStLE_Planning. We hope to see you at a CAStLE event this spring.


We are pleased to announce that the Third Call for Provost Assessment Fellows resulted in two outstanding faculty members agreeing to serve during the spring 2016 semester: Dr. Elaine Jurkowski, professor with the School of Social Work, and Dr. Andrew Balkansky, professor with the Department of Anthropology.  Nolan Wright, assistant professor with the School of Law Library, has also decided to extend his fellowship through the spring 2016 semester.

These are three outstanding colleagues, all of whom value and understand the importance of assessment, and will be working with us during the spring 2016 semester.


Dr. Jurkowski will be collaborating with Dr. Sharon Walters and Donald Barth to create training modules for submitting program-level assessment reports/plans through Sharepoint. She will also promote Conversations About Student Learning and Engagement (CAStLE) events and work to create a “Frequently Asked Questions” conversation session. Dr. Jurkowski is interested in learning more about co-curricular assessment and how to incorporate it into the academic curriculum.

Dr. Balkansky plans to work with Dr. Walters to devise a new assessment protocol for the University Studies Program.

Professor Wright will be working on the new outcomes-based accreditation standards adopted by the American Bar Association (ABA) Council on the Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, as well as updating the resources website for assessment.siu.edu.

Faculty and A/P staff members who are interested in the fellowship can apply during the 12th week of each semester for appointment the following term, excluding summer semester. No more than two semesters of fellowship experience shall be awarded to the same individual in any five-year period.

2015 Assessment Institute, Indianapolis, IN

Jim Allen, associate provost for academic programs, Sharon Walters, assistant director, Assessment and Program Review, along with Anne Cooper Moore, previously the dean of Library Affairs and now dean of the Library, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, presented at the 2015 Assessment Institute last October.  Their first presentation, “Educating the Whole Student: Strategies for Faculty,” provided hands-on activities to help faculty and staff first define the concept “whole student” and then work together as a group to develop strategies. Their second presentation, “Using Technology to Assess Student Engagement in Non-Curricular Events,” focused on some of the initiatives Dean Moore, as the chair of the Co-Curricular Assessment Committee, started while at SIU and some of our newer ones.  Both presentations, as well as the other conference presentations, are available on the IUPUI website https://inpaii.webtest.iu.edu/assessment/institute-files/2015-institute/handouts-2015.html.


It has been a busy semester for the Associate Provost for Academic Programs staff, as well as for the Project Management staff. We have made tremendous progress on developing a more effective assessment plan/report submission and review process utilizing Sharepoint. 

As some of you might remember, we started trying to find a more effective method to track assessment reports/plans after attending an assessment conference in June of 2013.  Later, during the summer 2015 semester, we started working with Dr. Arden Lockwood, assistant manager, Project Management Office, Office of Information Technology to streamline the way the Associate Provost for Academic Programs’s office functions.

Throughout the summer and early fall semesters, we educated Dr. Lockwood and her staff on exactly what our office does, and maybe more importantly, who it affects. This was also a great learning opportunity for us, since we realized that we needed to make some revisions in our website, as well as in the ways we communicate our expectations regarding assessment to faculty and staff.

We are now in the process of creating forms in Sharepoint and will work with a group of volunteers to test the forms (i.e., Assessment Plans and Annual Assessment Reports along with the rubrics) during the spring 2016 semester. Training on using the forms/rubrics is also being planned.

Assess Listserv

 Rhonda Ferguson, Assistant to Associate Provost for Academic Programs has created an Assessment listserv.  To subscribe to the listserv:

  1. Open an email client (Outlook, office.siu.edu, etc.) and compose a note to:


  1. In the text of the note, type the command:

SUB ASSESS-L firstname last name

For example,

SUB ASSESS-L Sharon Walters

  1. Send the note
  2. You should receive a confirmation note confirming the subscription to the list. 

If you have any problems, please contact Rhonda at rferguson@siu.edu.



The December 2015 newsletter from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) provides “A Year-End Note from the NILOA Team.” This article contains a wealth of links to useful assessment related resources. The newsletter and website contain valuable information regarding assessment and transparency.

The November 2015 Newsletter from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) contains a timely and interesting article, “Getting Beyond the Menu: Faculty Lead General Education Innovations at William and Mary.” Check it out!


During their assessment fellowships, Deborah Barnett and Heather Brake, along with Taylor Phoumivong, a graduate student intern in the Assessment and Program Review office, together created the SIU Advantage. Because of their successful work, they received a select invitation to represent SIU as one of only 25 institutions nationwide that will gather in Washington, DC, to discuss the idea of a comprehensive student record. This conversation is sponsored and led by National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) in collaboration with American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), and the Lumina Foundation. Now this is definitely something to brag about.  Click here to learn more about the SIU Advantage.


Check out the Spring/Summer Assessment Showcase newsletter where we will provide you with details about the many assessment activities scheduled for the summer 2016 semester.

question markQUESTIONS?

Each quarter 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 quarterly's newsletter and post them on our website under FAQs.

Editors: Dr. Sharon Walters, Assistant Director, Office of Assessment and Program Review, sharon@siu.edu/453-5669 and Rhonda Ferguson, rferguson@siu.edu/453-7653.