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Assessment Expo celebrates evaluation process

March 7, 2012

Assessment Expo 2012Some thing never would have happened without the first steps provided by assessment forms.

NIU students, faculty and employees frequently are asked to fill out those forms to turn their opinions into action. Fix a sports field. Add an academic program. Drop an outdated rule.

Last week, those very forms and the assessment process received the spotlight at the annual Assessment Expo, sponsored by NIU’s Office of Assessment Services.

People who distribute evaluation forms sang their praises as the first step to determine if change is needed. That was the case at NIU’s Recreation Services, director Sandi Carlisle said.

“From an assessment survey, we learned that students wanted more outdoor recreation space,” Carlisle said. “So we are looking at renovating a field west of Stevenson Towers and north of the Convocation Center.”

The assessment process has also helped staff members of ACCESS, NIU’s tutoring program, to tweak their service so students who normally shun extra academic help actually embrace it.

More students now are turning to tutors to bring their grades up, said Shevawn Eaton, the director of ACCESS.

Assessment is an effective means for improvement of all student learning, said Carolinda Douglass, associate vice provost for Academic Outcome Assessment. The expo offers the opportunity to show important assessments are, Douglass added, no matter whether they’re taken on paper or online.

“Sometimes assessment is something people don’t look forward to,” Douglass told the 55 people who attended the expo. “But today we are celebrating assessment.”

Their key is to make sure everyone involved with the program or service fills them out. That includes students, said Eric Niemi, a Ed.D student who is studying in the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education.

“Students want to be involved,” Niemi said. “Once they see that their opinions are valued, they will be happy to be involved.”

by Gerard Dziuba