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Last Fall, the Campus-Wide Assessment Committee recommended the creation of an Assessment Fellow program. It was to be modeled on the Provost Fellowship, which has been in existence since at least Fall 2013.

Despite some trepidation about just who would rise to the occasion, we invited two extraordinary faculty members, Ruth Anne Rehfeldt in the Rehabilitation Institute and Christie McIntyre in Curriculum and Instruction, to inaugurate our program this Spring. As you will see from the interviews in this issue of Assessment Showcase, our colleagues’ work had a far-reaching impact. Thanks to Ruth Anne and Christie, two fellows far exceeded our initial expectations.

One reason for this success lies in no small measure to the Undergraduate Assistants in the Associate Provost office, Alex Gonzales (Information Systems Technologies) and Shantel Franklin (Political Science), who worked closely with the Assessment Fellows.

As you will see in the abstracts of their research projects, which the assistants presented at the Creativity Week's events the first week in April, Alex and Shantel discovered just how effective were two important learning tools: the tablets that first-year students received in Fall 2013 and 2014 and the course syllabi that instructional faculty have been using for their online courses this year. Yes, indeed, students like Alex and Shantel can help with the assessment of student learning outcomes!

Please note below the announcement for next Fall’s Assessment Days Conference and Workshop. If you have an assessment project to share with your campus colleagues -- with an eye to using actionable data for the improvement of student learning -- please consider submitting an abstract by the deadline: noontime August 31 to assess@siu.edu.

Finally, I want to thank the indefatigable Anne Cooper Moore, Dean of Library Affairs, for her staunch support and more, for her leadership of assessment of co-curricular learning. As she prepares to move to the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, I want to recognize her remarkable contributions to our collective efforts. We all, students included, are much the better for Anne’s active participation in our growing culture of transformative inquiry. We will build on her generous legacy.

Jim Allen
Associate Provost for Academic Programs

Second Annual Assessment Conference

Actionable Assessment for Academic and Co-Curricular Learning
Wednesday, September 30 -Thursday, October 1, 2015
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Morning and Afternoon Sessions
In Morris Library
Hosted by:
Campus-Wide Assessment Committee and Co-Curricular Assessment Committee

Who Should Submit?:  The ultimate goal of assessment is to improve student learning. Assessment of student learning should be more than a compliance issue, it should be a process that fosters progress in higher education. The Second Annual Assessment Conference will focus on actionable assessment, the how of assessment. How do we as assessment practitioners use data to position our students to meet the challenges of today’s world? How have faculty and co-curricular units taken action to improve programs, learning, and student outcomes? If you have a solution or experience you can share that will benefit others, we invite you to participate in the upcoming conference.

Why Should You Submit?: As good assessment professionals, we know that actionable data lead to improved practice. However, do your colleagues have the same vision? Conference presenters will have an opportunity to help build the culture of assessment at SIU and beyond: to share your scholarly work related to actionable assessment, to report on best practices, to discuss what assessment practices worked and didn’t work, to identify ways that academic and non-academic units can use assessment data, or maybe even to present an assessment problem you are dealing with and elicit feedback from an audience of peers.

Who Is the Anticipated Audience?: The conference will be designed to meet the needs of faculty, staff, and graduate students who deal with or are interested in learning more about classroom-level and program-level assessment, both academic and co-curricular, to improve programs.

What Type of Proposal Should I Submit?: We define actionable assessment as “assessment that has the potential to be acted upon, or is designed with action in mind.”  We seek proposals that illustrate assessment of all aspects of university life, including classroom, academic support, student life, service learning, and the like. Sessions should go beyond the theory of the assessment process to provide specific examples of ongoing academic, co-curricular, and program-level assessment and the application of assessment results in meaningful ways to improve student learning wherever it occurs. We expect participation that reflects the best thinking in the field, informed by theory, research, and practice. Share how YOU evaluate learning and use your results to improve your work with students.

Can You Provide Me with Some Ideas?:  CWAC and Co-CAC invite proposals for presentations, panel discussions, workshops, poster sessions, and multimedia displays on assessment that result in actionable data. The idea is to help us to:

  • Promote actionable assessment strategies, such as formative assessment or backward course design
  • Highlight innovation and cutting-edge content
  • Stimulate and provoke discussion and audience engagement
  • Discuss best practices using approaches for different types of learners
  • Present evidence based on or supported by research
  • Target new, mid-career, and seasoned professionals
  • Share how to apply evidence to support campus decision-making
  • Provide new approaches to gathering, analyzing, or presenting data
  • Demonstrate new methods or case studies of using evidence to assess and improve student learning
  • Test new technologies
  • Integrate classroom/co-curricular assessment practices

What if I Think I Might Want to Submit, But Don’t Know for Sure?:  If you have a presentation idea, but don’t know for sure if it is what the Committees are looking for or if you need assistance in fully developing an idea, please contact Sharon Walters at sharon@siu.edu or 453-5669.  

Presentation Formats

When submitting a proposal, please select one of the following presentation formats:

  1. Presentation (45 minutes) – One or more individuals make a 30-minute presentation on a single topic, followed by an additional 10 to 15 minutes of Q&A with the audience.
  2. Panel discussion (45–60 minutes) – Each panel member makes a brief presentation, followed by open discussion and Q&A with the audience. 
  3. Workshop/Interactive Presentation (120-minute sessions) – Individuals will provide hands-on assessment related opportunities for conference attendees. Should focus on practical tools/strategies/methods for attendees to use.
  4. Multimedia Display (45-minute session) – Individuals or small groups present a project or results with multimedia or mixed applications on one or two 3- by 4-foot screens on a media:scape or at a BizTable. Presenters can display Powerpoint, video, and/or web-based applications. Conference attendees circulate through a variety of “posters” and engage in conversations with the presenters.
  5. Poster (45-minute session) – Individuals or small groups explain a project that is summarized on a printed poster displayed on an easel or taped to the wall.  Conference attendees circulate through a variety of “posters” and engage in conversations with the presenters.

How to Submit a Proposal

E-mail proposals that include the elements listed below by noon August 31, 2015, to assess@siu.edu. Please specify the presentation format (i.e., presentation, panel, poster, multimedia) and times you would be available to present. If you have any questions, please contact Sharon Walters, Assistant Director, Assessment and Program Review at 453-5669.

Proposal Guidelines and Submission Requirements

Presentation/Panel/Workshop/Poster/Multimedia Display Title: The title should accurately reflect the assessment focus of your presentation and make the reader want to learn more.

Identification of All Presenters: Full contact information includes name, title, telephone number, and e-mail address. 

Session Description: Include a brief (50-80 words) description, summary, and highlights of your session. Please be concise, accurate, and specific. Should your session be chosen by our Proposal Review Committee, this description will be used in program materials. Please do not use abbreviations or acronyms in your description. We reserve the right to edit content for brevity, grammar and clarity.

Session Outcomes: What will the audience learn? What content and skills do you hope to provide your participants?

Engagement of Session Participants: Include an outline of the specific active instructional strategies the session will employ to engage session participants with the session materials and/or produce a session deliverable.

How are Proposals Reviewed?

Members of the Proposal Review Committees will review proposals according to the following criteria: Availability of space, presenter mix, presentation type, and perceived quality and impact. Applicants will be notified by September 11, 2015. The Conference schedule will be finalized by September 18, 2015.

First Assessment Fellows get to work

New this year to Assessment and Program Review were two Assessment Fellows. During the Spring semester the inaugural fellows, Christie McIntyre (Curriculum and Instruction) and Ruth Anne Rehfeldt (Rehabilitation Institute) worked on various projects with the help of the undergraduate assistants in the Assessment Office.  We compiled some questions to ask Christie and Ruth Anne about their experience as the first Assessment Fellows and what it meant to them.  The interviews follow:

Ruth Anne Rehfeldt responds:

Ruth Anne1.      What did you learn about assessment that you maybe didn’t know?

I was struck by what a challenge it is to implement assessment at an institutional level. The ins and outs of how to do it are fairly straightforward according to the textbooks, but implementing course and program-level assessment across the board in an infrastructure as complex as ours is a daunting task, further complicated by such issues as course and program modality, faculty work-loads, and program accreditation.

2.      What projects did you work on as fellow?

First, I worked with the undergraduates serving in assistantship roles in a review of online course syllabi. The students reviewed a random sample of syllabi for a number of important recommendations from the Online Learning Consortium about details to include in a syllabus for an online course. We obtained some interesting data and the students were able to present a poster at our Annual Research Day.

Second, I assisted Pat Manfredi in a review of syllabi for courses in the University Core Curriculum (UCC) to identify ways in which we can strengthen the presence of the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes in UCC courses. I created some training materials in this regard.

Third, I’ve been awaiting data from a Community of Inquiry survey (also from the Online Learning Consortium) that was sent to students in online courses. These data would represent indirect evidence for students’ learning experiences in SIUC’s online courses.

Fourth, I’ve created training videos on authentic assessments in face-to-face and hybrid classrooms and online course syllabus construction.

Fifth, I’ve co-chaired task forces related to student learning in hybrid/off-campus courses and online courses with Heidi Jung.

Sixth, I’ve researched institutional policies related to credit-hour definitions to facilitate SIUC’s adoption of a policy that is consistent with the U.S. Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission’s stance on the issue.

Seventh, I’ve presented at some Castle meetings.

Eight, I’ve assisted the Center for Teaching Excellence with their orientation for new faculty. I’m sure there is something I am forgetting.

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

As with the Provost Fellow position that I completed in Fall 2013, I really enjoyed having the chance to collaborate with people from other departments and colleges than my own. One could go their entire career without the chance to build relationships with people from other areas of campus life. These fellowships have been a great way to build new relationships and learn about how the broader campus system works.

 4.      What would you change?

My department (Rehabilitation Institute) has been incredible at fostering creative teaching and research during my 16 years here. I wish I would have focused more of my energies on a project that might have directly benefitted my department.

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

In addition to my response to #4, perhaps think of a project that might lead to a publishable outcome.  

Christie McIntyre responds:

Christie1.      What did you learn about assessment that you maybe didn’t know?

I gained a deeper appreciation for the programs on campus that are not required to submit accreditation reports to national organizations in their area. Many of these programs do not have a set of standards defining their curriculum, so their journey to defining learning outcomes and then assessments to align to those outcomes requires a different approach.

I also learned about the role and purpose of the LEAP objectives for our campus. Being introduced to the National Institute for Learning Outcomes and Assessment has expanded my resource base for future research projects.

2.      What projects did you work on as fellows?

CAStLE (Conversations About Student Learning and Engagement) became a focal project for the

semester. Establishing a professional reading agenda and engaging in the CAStLE discussions around assessment topics with colleagues in curricular and co-curricular settings extended my professional knowledge base about assessment practices across campus.

Within my department, my colleagues and I focused on the development of an assessment system that

would document the learning outcomes of our graduate students. We have spent a majority of the semester aligning our current graduate course projects to our learning outcomes and discussing which assessments will provide the most meaningful data. We are utilizing an assessment of our graduates’ dispositions. We also developed, implemented, and modified a survey of former graduates within the program based on our new learning outcomes.

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

My department chair and college were very supportive of the fellowship and allowed me to split my

time between the department and the fellowship. This gift of time enabled me to focus on the graduate assessment needs within my department, the CAStLE agendas, and other priorities within the Office of Assessment and Program Review. I am also very appreciative of the support and resources shared with me through the Office of Assessment and Program Review. Everyone was engaged in the success of the various assessment projects.

4.      What would you change?

I wish I had more time to extend my learning about the assessment efforts of my colleagues across campus.

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

Embrace the opportunities, explore the resources, and listen to better understand the assessment challenges your colleagues face across campus.

Undergraduate Assistants proud of their projects

Tablet Satisfaction Survey Results

AlexAs part of the Mobile Dawg Digital Initiative, SIU Carbondale decided to issue Dell Tablets to incoming freshmen at no cost.  While the results from a previous Student Survey showed the initiative impacted 31 percent respondents’ (N=132) decision to attend SIU, the Provost questioned the freshmen’s satisfaction with the tablets. She asked the Office of the Associate Provost for Academic Programs to conduct a follow-up survey.

The purpose of this study was to assess the usage and effectiveness of the Mobile Dawg Digital Initiative to promote retention among freshman students. The data were collected through anonymous surveys taken by 495 freshman students enrolled in UCOL 101 during the fall 2014 semester. The UCOL 101 Tablet Survey was designed to analyze usage, discover potential issues, and determine overall effectiveness. It is important to understand issues such as these in order for SIU to provide incoming freshman with the resources they need to feel welcomed to our university. All things considered, the freshmen tablet initiative has proven to be relatively successful and its continuation (with funding from various sources) is still under consideration for FY17. For more information contact Alex at jgonzalez368@siu.edu.

An Evaluation of Syllabi for Online Courses: Moving Ahead with the e-Transformation

ShantelIn an institution of higher education, a course syllabus serves a number of vital roles. A syllabus is a planning tool for instructors, a course plan for students, a teaching resource, an artifact for teacher evaluation, even evidence for program accreditation (Fink, 2012). A course syllabus may also be regarded as a contract between students and instructors, delineating the responsibilities of each (Allen, personal communication, 2015). A syllabus for online courses requires a number of different features from a syllabus for face-to-face courses in order to serve these important functions. According to Extended Campus, the number of online courses at SIU has increased by 34.68% from fall 2013 to fall 2014. Sixty additional courses have been implemented online in this past academic year alone.  The purpose of this project was to evaluate syllabi for online courses offered during the fall 2014 semester, using a checklist devised from the published literature on best practices in online teaching. For more information contact Shantel at shantel.franklin@siu.edu.


We are pleased to announce that an online “Course” shell has been created to allow faculty, staff, and graduate students to “meet” informally to discuss assessment related issues.  If you would like to join this Online Community of Professional Learners, please e-mail Sharon Walters at sharon@siu.edu.

This Community will also meet face-to-face on a monthly basis during the summer semester, 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 also planning monthly brown bag meetings to discuss articles and books related to assessment.  More information will be shared through the listservs.



The April 2015 newsletter from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) contains a timely and interesting Occasional Paper, “Digital Badges as Effective Assessment Tools.” The newsletter and website contain a wealth of information regarding assessment and transparency.

Why do I have to take this Course?

The April 2015 Newsletter from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) feature article, “Pathways for Learning and Transfer at California State University-Northridge and Pierce College” discusses the General Education (GE) Pathways program, first developed at California State University-Chico.


We are happy to announce that Dr. Deborah Barnett, Coordinator, Non-Traditional Student Services and a member of the Co-Curricular Assessment Committee had an article “Telling a Compelling Story with Data: Assessment of Adult Learner Programs and Services” published by the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) on page 11 of the Annual Knowledge Community Conference Publication within the Adult Learners and Students with Children Knowledge Community section.  


Check out the Fall Assessment Showcase newsletter where we will provide you with details about the many assessment activities scheduled for the fall 2015 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.