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UA Assessment Showcase 2013

Last Modified Date: 

What:       The Annual UA Assessment Showcase

When:      Wednesday, April 10, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Where:    Hall of Champions, Eddie Lynch Pavilion


This year’s showcase will feature brief presentations by campus assessment leaders and table discussions facilitated by UA faculty members who have been meeting together to learn about best practices in student learning outcomes assessment.   The event is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Assessment Coordinating Council, and the Office of Instruction and Assessment.   Beverages and mid-morning goodies will be provided.

All faculty, staff, and administrators involved with program level assessment of student learning.  RSVP is requested at:

For more information contact Becky Perez at

Discussion topics:

Building Faculty Interest for Assessment

John has been asked by his department head to lead the learning outcomes assessment work in the Department of Sociology. Little has been done with outcomes assessment in the department. After attending some workshops offered by the university, he has a general understanding of what it is all about. Furthermore, John believes that evidence of student learning collected through assessment can help his department improve. The challenge is that many faculty and instructors in his department do not share his belief in the value of assessment, rather believing that learning outcomes assessment is just one more thing that the administration is requiring them to do. John believes that in order for the sociology programs to benefit from assessment, buy-in from everyone who teaches and participates in decision-making in the sociology curriculum needs to be involved.

Discussion StartersHow might John begin building faculty buy-in for assessment?    What are some possible first steps and possible follow-up steps?


Assessment Data:  How much and what kind?

Sue and Phil volunteered to build a draft plan for learning outcomes assessment to be considered by the Psychology Department faculty. They have attended assessment workshops and reviewed resources showing steps that can guide the development of a department’s assessment process. Sue and Phil have even received consensus at a faculty meeting on a few key learning outcomes that the faculty value for students in the psychology programs and possible points in the curriculum where the outcomes might be assessed. However, they are stumped on HOW to conduct the assessments.

Discussion Starters:  How do Sue and Phil determine appropriate assessment activities for the outcomes?  How much data need to be generated in order to be useful for program improvement? 


Rubrics to Assess Graduate Outcomes

Mary uses rubrics to assess student presentations in the senior capstone seminar, a course she teaches each year in the undergraduate microbiology program.  She is a believer in rubrics as useful tools to assess learning in a single course and even across courses in a program. At the program level, Mary believes that rubrics could generate evidence of student learning as tied to the program’s stated learning outcomes. The evidence could be used to inform departmental discussions about possible improvements in curriculum and instruction. After recent departmental meetings about graduate program learning outcomes, Mary decides to pursue the challenge of building a rubric that could be used to measure two key learning outcomes that the graduate faculty has agreed upon.  Her intention is to take the rubric to the next graduate faculty meeting asking for revisions and then possible implementation in the graduate outcomes assessment process.

Discussion Starters:  How does Mary start the task of building the rubric?  What does she need to consider?  What objections to using rubrics to assess outcomes in the graduate program is Mary likely to encounter among her colleagues?  How might she think about responding to these concerns?     


Assessment Alignment:  Outcomes -> Findings -> Changes

To prepare for this year’s Academic Program Review, Luis has been asked to coordinate learning outcomes assessment work in his home department of political science. . Last year, the faculty members agreed on both five learning outcomes and the four courses in the undergraduate program in which data on student performance would be collected. Over the course of the past two semesters, six different faculty members have collected those data. In preparation for an upcoming faculty meeting, Luis reviewed the data submitted by one instructor, in whose course the outcome to be assessed was, “demonstrate knowledge of the institutions and processes of the American political system.” However, what the instructor submitted was survey data from the students about how much they enjoyed the class and learned from it. He also recommended that the department make no changes to the course since students were satisfied. Luis was disappointed that the survey data did not align with the learning outcome. He also was concerned about a faculty discussion about changes that were not linked to learning outcomes.

Discussion Starters:  How should Luis plan to discuss this assessment data at the upcoming faculty meeting? How can he lead the other faculty members to “discover” the misalignment between learning outcomes and findings? How can he guide a discussion of more completely aligning the program’s outcomes, findings, and changes? 


Writing Good Student Learning Outcomes

Helena has volunteered to coordinate the development of student learning outcomes for her art history graduate program. In preparation for this work, she has done some reading on how to write good outcomes, and she has consulted with assessment experts on her campus. At a faculty meeting about assessment, Helena asks for volunteers to help her write learning outcomes for the program. Several colleagues tell her that the program already has learning outcomes, and they are prominent on the program’s website. The site states:

The Art History program offers a complete range of courses in Western art, from ancient to modern, as well as Pre-Columbian and African. We provide our students in-depth knowledge in a specialized field within the discipline of art history and serve as a foundation for those students who plan on pursuing academic, curatorial, and research positions in a professional environment.

Discussion Starters:What feedback should Helena provide to her colleagues? What reasons could she provide for this not being a good student-learning outcome? How can she guide her colleagues in writing better learning outcomes?


Managing the Assessment Process within a Department

Marla has accepted the role of helping her home department of philosophy implement a new assessment plan that was developed with help from the OIA after their recent Academic Program Review. After two productive faculty meetings about the new assessment plan, the faculty has developed student learning outcomes and has started looking at points in the curriculum where the outcomes could be assessed. Marla is feeling pretty good about how she and her colleagues have accomplished these necessary first steps. However, the more planning that is accomplished, the more questions Marla begins to consider regarding how this work will be integrated within the department.

Discussion StartersWhat are some best practices that Marla can implement to collect and archive assessment data?  Who should be responsible for collecting and storing assessment data?  For how long should data be stored?  What if the tools used to collect assessment data change?  How can all faculty members be involved in the assessment process?