Participants in the eighth annual NIU Assessment Expo, scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to noon Friday, March 20, will learn more about 10 university programs and their outstanding assessment practices.
Attendees will have the opportunity to view posters, talk to presenters and engage in roundtable discussions which focus on this year’s theme, “Collaboration Matters in Assessment.”
Collaboration events like this promote conversations about best practices and continuous improvement plans, while providing NIU students with vital teaching and learning experiences.
The event takes place in the Sky Room of the Holmes Student Center. For more information, contact the Office of Assessment Services at [email protected] or Steve Wallace, associate director of the Office of Assessment Services at [email protected].
The University Assessment Panel selected 10 programs to showcase some of their outstanding assessment practices.
Here’s more about them.
The department used the recent 2012-2013 program review process to inform changes to the curriculum and assessment methods. The department constructed a new required graduate course – SOCI 674 – to address weaknesses in students’ content mastery of methodologies. Also the comprehensive exam format was changed to include an oral component with a written follow-up. Additionally, a thesis assessment rubric was revised and implemented. The changes address student needs. Students and faculty share the rubric and conversations about establishing a common set of expectations for departmental standards. It is expected that these changes will contribute to an improvement in the quality of student products.
College of Business
Completion of the Business Passport Program is a requirement for all undergraduate business students. The purpose of the Business Passport Program is to broaden students’ business perspective and enhance their marketability in the job market. Business Passport will allow students to gain meaningful hands-on experience, network and connect with professionals, create their own personal brand, enhance personal and professional development, build a stronger resume, and develop well-rounded interests and expertise. Once a student’s completion of the passport is verified a co-curricular transcript reflecting the experiences and accomplishments is created.
Students complete a capstone research project in two parts involving a research paper and a public poster presentation. A well-developed rubric is used to score the capstone projects and provide students and faculty an assessment of how students are performing on specific skills that contribute to effective written and oral communication. The results from the capstone assessments are used by faculty to evaluate instruction and make plans for improvements. Faculty took time to discuss the assessment results with students and conversations indicate the need to bolster students’ study of research methods. Future plans include ensuring students enroll in AUD 700, a research methods course, during the first year of the program.
Student writing assignments from various disciplines across campus are evaluated by multiple faculty members using a modified VALUE Rubric. This assessment of student writing was connected to Course Activity Documentation (CAD) data to investigate if associations between the amount of writing in a course and writing performance. Results from this assessment will be used for university reporting and to provide feedback to departments about how students are performing on written communication and critical thinking tasks.
Each student in the program is required to do a senior design project. These projects are sponsored by a company or hospital. The course instructor works closely with the students and the sponsors during the semester long project. Students are required to submit a project portfolio at the end of the semester. In addition, the students are required to make a final presentation on senior design day. The presentations are evaluated by the instructor, faculty in the department, and the sponsors. Conversations about the evaluations are shared with the students. Faculty and sponsors indicate that students are adequately meeting all learning outcomes. These conversations help make plans for improvement. Students voiced some concerns about team dynamics and gaps in communication due to physical distance between team members. The program plans to help students facilitate team communication through the use of the Collaborate feature in Blackboard.
Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning
By combining the use of multiple data sources and assessment methods, the Office of Assessment Services and the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning teamed up to investigate the effects of high-impact practices on student retention over a multiple-year period.
NIU implemented more than 15 high impact practices.
A review of the data through the use of survival analysis indicates that high impact practices do show great effects on student success and retention.
College of Education
Department of Special and Early Education
Master of Education in Special Education
Faculty members in the program discuss assessment data at regularly scheduled program meetings in addition to frequently communicating with the program assessment coordinator. These discussions help inform specific changes to revise assignments, instruction, or assessments. These discussions helped professors see that students perform better when rubrics and assessment feedback are shared with students. Professors noted that students perform better when given the opportunity to review assignments scored on rubrics and incorporate that assessment data into future projects. The behavior intervention assignment is designed as a three part project to provide students the opportunity to use the assessment feedback they are given on the first two parts to make improvements to the final product.
Faculty members used discussions about assessment data and a curriculum mapping process to address systemic concerns about curriculum, instruction and assessment. These discussions helped faculty develop a new program student learning outcome focused on the skill of collaboration/teamwork and rubrics to match the new outcome.
Faculty designed group assignments for students to complete in courses throughout the program because collaboration and teamwork is an important skill in hospitality and nutrition professions.
Faculty made efforts to balance measuring group performance as well as individual student performance within a group project.
College of Business
Refining Learning Goals and Outcomes: An Inclusive, Grassroots Process
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accrediting body sets forth several expectations regarding the development of degree program learning goals and objectives. How these expectations are met impact buy-in or resistance to corresponding assessment activities. The NIU College of Business recently used an inclusive process to refine its undergraduate degree program learning goals and objectives, ensure market relevance of the degree program, and gain comprehensive stakeholder support.
College of Business
The Benefits of Engaging External Stakeholders in Ethics Assessment
The College of Business has mature processes for assessing its business ethical awareness learning goal. From 2005-2011, only faculty and graduate assistants were involved in assessing student work. In 2013, external stakeholders were asked to sit side-by-side with College of Business faculty to assess student work using a rubric. The external stakeholders provided valuable validation of faculty assessment results, feedback on the assessment assignment, and examples on the application of ethics in real world business situations.
In FY14, Planning & Assessment went through a revision process based on a comprehensive set of assessments over the course of the year. The goal was to establish a functional area that served the needs of the Division more effectively and efficiently while allowing the Director the discretion to evolve the office as needed to meet national trends and better serve the Division. This work was done through a benchmarking study, a needs and satisfaction assessment, as well as an internal and external review. Findings were compiled and recommendations were taken to the VP for Student Affairs. The result was a newly formed Planning & Assessment, which has made great strides in service to the Division during FY15.
In FY14, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center and Women’s Resource Center underwent a merger process, resulting in a new department, name, and mission. Throughout the year, faculty, staff, student, alumni and community stakeholders contributed to the merger through benchmarking, interviews, and focus group feedback.
As a result of the data gathered, the new department was named the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center.
In fall 2013, staff interviewed 20 students, faculty, staff and community members, gathering data to inform an understanding of how each center served the campus in the past.
Six focus group sessions were offered in spring 2014, allowing campus community members, including previous and aspirational collaborators, to provide feedback on how the new mission should be put into action and what the new center name should be.
Throughout the year, staff from each center learned about what each center had previously accomplished at NIU, and collaborated on programming initiatives to be inclusive of current trends impacting women, men and LGBTQ populations.
Key programs included bringing speaker Kye Allums, the first openly transgender Division I basketball player, to campus. Further, the “Beyonce’s F-word” program took a fresh approach to feminism, gender and femininity during Women’s History Month. Traditional events such as the Clothing Expo and Ally Program yielded record numbers, with more than 120 attendees and more than 575 active allies, respectively.
Overall, the success of this merger can be attributed to many individuals who helped keep students at the center of the new department’s work.