How to assess anything without killing yourself…really!

This quick read contains some very wise advice about assessment from Linda Suskie’s blog, A Common Sense Approach to Assessment and Accreditation.  My favs:

#8. If you know almost nothing, almost anything will tell you something. Don’t let anxiety about what could go wrong with assessment keep you from just starting to do some organized assessment.

#10. Aim for just enough results. You probably need less data than you think, and an adequate amount of new data is probably more accessible than you first thought. Compare the expected value of perfect assessment results (which are unattainable anyway), imperfect assessment results, and sample assessment results. Is the value of sample results good enough to give you confidence in making decisions?

#11. Intangible does not mean immeasurable.

Read the rest here: How to assess anything without killing yourself…really!

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AAC&U Releases Report on National, Large-Scale Look at Student Learning

AAC&U has recently released preliminary results from their ambitious project to measure student learning using the VALUE rubrics across many types of institutions.  You may not find the results surprising but you are bound to find them compelling.  A couple of nuggets from the summary by Inside Higher Ed are quoted below

Download the report

First data, based on analysis of work at 92 colleges, finds much success in writing, some success in critical thinking and more limited success in quantitative skills.

Assignments themselves were important, too, as early results point “in several ways to the importance of the assignments in students’ abilities to demonstrate higher, second-order quality work,” reads the report. “What institutions ask their students to do makes a difference for the quality of the learning.”

Read the article

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Engaging Assessment: Applying Civic Values to Evaluation

This article by Terry Dolson, Bryan Figura, and Sylvia Gale of the University of Richmond describes a values-engaged assessment approach that is designed to be a generative assessment.

At the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities in Washington, DC, we asked participants in our session on approaches to assessing civically engaged student learning, “Would you describe your own assessment initiatives as involving meaningful effort, offering staff and faculty rich feedback about your work, and providing opportunities for you to engage across differences as you reflect on the people your students are becoming?”

Not a single person in a room of more than fifty raised their hands. This did not surprise us. We were testing a bold idea: that as faculty and staff charged with assessing community-engaged student learning, we can let the values that underpin our civic engagement work shape our assessment efforts as well. This practice, we have found, is an effective tool for institutional cultural change, allowing us to reclaim assessment as a generative, inquiry-based cycle whose processes—and not only products—further our center’s mission.

Read Engaging Assessment: Applying Civic Values to Evaluation in the Fall 2016 Issue of AAC&U’s Diversity and Democracy.

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AAC&U News: Creating Signature Work Through Shared Experiences


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Complaining about students has consequences.

In her most recent blog post,  addresses the topic of a 2012 article in the Journal of Chemical Education. I have been guilty of this but I am working VERY hard to understand that students have reasons for their behavior and are mostly responding to their built environment in the smartest possible way.  If we want different behavior, we must design a learning environment that demands it.

Sometimes we do need to vent. It isn’t easy teaching students who don’t come to class prepared, seem to always want the easiest way, are prepared to cheat if necessary, don’t have good study skills, and aren’t interested in learning what we love to teach. Venting, especially to a trusted colleague, helps us put things in perspective. At some point, though, venting morphs into complaining, and what we say about students becomes what we think about them. And that’s when it starts getting dangerous, because it affects how we teach.

Source Article: Cooper, M. L. (2012). Cherry picking: Why we must not let negativity dominance affect our interactions with students. Journal of Chemical Education, 89,423–424 DOI:10.1021/ed3000217

Read the entire post at the Faculty Focus blog.

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AAC&U Statement:  Reaffirming a Deep and Abiding Commitment

The AAC&U posted the statement regarding election-related harassment and intimidation …

Reaffirming a Deep and Abiding Commitment

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

By Lynn Pasquerella

A week ago today, more than 132 million voters across America made their voices heard in an historic presidential election. Since then, the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported over 300 incidents of election-related harassment and intimidation, with the highest occurrences in primary and secondary schools and on college and university campuses. Higher education must play a leadership role in safeguarding the free exchange of ideas and providing models for fostering respectful dialogue across ideological differences.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities’ mission of making liberal education and inclusive excellence the foundation for institutional purpose and educational practice is grounded in the conviction that a deepening engagement with diverse perspectives is fundamental to a flourishing democracy. AAC&U stands alongside its nearly 1,400 members in reaffirming a deep and abiding commitment to the values of diversity, inclusion, and equity as critical to the wellbeing of our democratic culture and as the cornerstones of excellence in liberal education. For a sampling of how campuses are taking action to advance these ideals, we invite you to visit our link to Resources for Campus Leaders Crafting Messages in Response to Issues of Racial and Social Justice. We look forward to continued collaboration in championing our shared objectives.

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Looking to Step Up Your Game?

The Governor’s Teaching Fellows program is a statewide program for professors from both public and private institutions in Georgia. The goal is to create a kind of “think tank” for professors who are deeply dedicated to the quality of their teaching and provide them with the time, space, and support needed to reinvigorate themselves and their courses. A few former fellows you might know include Julia Metzker, Amy Burt, Scott Butler, Judith Malachowski, Jan Clark, and Jennifer Flory. Amy Sumpter is a current fellow, and I’ve been teaching in the program since I was a fellow myself in 2001-2002. So the question is, would YOU like to be a Governor’s Teaching Fellow? If you follow this blog, you are likely the kind of person the program is looking for, and Winter Break is a smart time to get your application together. Your application has to go through a nomination and approval process on your campus, so it needs to be pulled together well before the actual due dates. The application is not onerous and will likely only take a couple of hours to complete.

There are two cohorts each year of about 12 Fellows each. One meets for two weeks in May and the other meets the first Wednesday through Friday most months for an academic year. For exact dates and more information about the program and the application process, please see . Please note that all candidate letters of support and application materials must be received no later than February 3, 2017 for the Summer Symposium and April 21, 2017 for the Academic Year Program.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me for more information or contact former fellows in order to hear their thoughts.

Cynthia Alby, Georgia College,

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