Hint: It’s the same thing shared by bachelor’s degree programs in early childhood studies, management, meteorology and nursing – not to mention master’s degree programs in school business management and chemistry and First Year Composition Program ePortfolios.
The answer is assessment – more specifically, synthesized assessment.
Participants at the seventh annual NIU Assessment Expo, scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to noon Friday, April 4, will learn more about the blend of measurement tools used by all 10 of these programs as they strive to improve.
Under the theme of “Synthesizing Assessment Methods,” presenters chosen by the University Assessment Panel will show their posters, discuss their methods and lead conversations about best practices.
Such collaboration fosters engaged and proactive assessment and helps provide NIU students with eminent teaching and learning experiences.
Here’s more about the 10 projects.
Campus Child Care
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) reaccreditation
Campus Child Care compiles assessment evidence from multiple sources including portfolios, surveys and observations to maintain its accreditation with NAEYC. The process involves continual self-assessment and thorough external review. Physical environment improvements will be made based on the review of the assessment results. The program is looking forward to new and updated playground equipment.
In order to facilitate informed decision making, Housing & Dining assessed the future of the residential computer labs through online surveys, student focus groups and a benchmarking survey. Based on the results, a series of changes were made to meet the needs of students. Students now have access to improved study zones, new computers, Anywhere printing, comfortable seating in the labs and lab computers located in lounges throughout the residence halls.
Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning
Themed Learning Communities
The TLCs represent one of the many high-impact practices OSEEL supports on campus. The TLCs consist of a cohort of students that co-enroll in two or more courses that explore a common theme and engage in learning opportunities outside of the classrooms. The TLC program began in Fall 2010 and is an optional experience for first-year students. OSEEL analyzed assessment results with a method to account for the possible self-selection bias of students who participate in learning communities. Results suggest that participation in TLCs positively impact academic achievement and retention.
College of Business, Department of Management
The Department of Management uses external and internal sources to validate the results from multiple assessment methods. Internally, instructors use a custom rubric to assess students’ individual presentation abilities as part of a group presentation in a core course. External results are provided by business professionals serving on the Management Executive Advisory Council. As part of a course assignment, students are required to conduct a mock job interview with one of the business professionals. The business professionals score student presentation abilities with a different custom rubric that is aligned with the internal rubric. Alumni are also asked to provide an indirect assessment of this skill. One year after graduation, students are asked to rate the management degree program on enhancing their ability to deliver business presentations. The Department of Management reviews all data to identify opportunities for continuous improvement.
The Early Childhood Studies program emphasizes the use of authentic assessment and incorporates multiple assessment methods to make decisions. The program integrates key assessment strategies that are reflective of the work that teachers do. Assessments are connected to accreditation standards and used for continuous program improvement.
College of Education
Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations
School Business Management M.S. Ed.
Through student internship portfolios and a data-driven decision-making project, the School Business Management M.S.Ed program assesses student learning outcomes related to school budgeting, fund accounting, resource management and school facilities maintenance. The program uses assessment results to guide internship site supervisors and to improve students’ field training.
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of English
First-Year Composition Program ePortfolios
By actively engaging in various forms of assessment, the First Year Composition Program at NIU continuously strives to enhance their program. In 2004, NIU joined other early leaders in the first cohort of the Inter/National Coalition for Electronic Portfolio research. Since then, the program has used portfolio pedagogy and assessments to support an authentic, evidence-based assessment plan that uses both quantitative and qualitative results to drive continual program improvement.
Aimed at providing students with a strong foundation in modern weather and climate science suitable for careers or graduate study, the meteorology B.S. program synthesizes multiple assessment methods to support these student goals and make program improvements. The program provides students opportunities to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in various ways by using multiple assessments including pre- and post-tests, course embedded projects, a weather forecasting competition, research presentations, employer reports, advisory committees and alumni surveys.
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
A significant challenge in the development of the M.S. Chemistry Assessment Plan was its actual implementation. The primary challenge was finding a system that faculty were willing to use, and then leveraging it effectively to provide ongoing assessment and improve student skills. The development of an integrated web-based access point for assessment tools and timelines has helped meet this challenge.
College of Health and Human Sciences
School of Nursing and Health Studies
Nursing utilizes and synthesizes a wide range of assessment methods to monitor student progress and overall degree program quality. Assessments range from authentic classroom assignments, an SBAR paper, to standardized national tests, including the HESI and the NCLEX-RN. The nursing program uses the multiple assessments to create a descriptive picture of the program for multiple stakeholders including faculty, students, staff, employers and accreditors.