Thursday, April 21, 2011

Assessing our Assessing

At our recent ABET Symposium workshop, we asked participants to self-assess their programs' assessment practices. Similarly to any classroom setting, there were a few partakers who were quick to share their institutional efforts and several who shied away from the questions. The group managed to come up with some interesting topics of discussion and open ended questions for their faculty and administrators.

Much of the room admitted that their curriculum mappings and student assessments are planned and warehoused on paper. For most of them, this results in boxes and boxes of hard copies and hundreds to thousands of man-hours for the preparation of an ABET accreditation visit. Although the room had representatives from many different schools, several individuals described analysis packages developed for assessment data. There was no conversation of shared tools or practices. The conference, itself, is meant to be a forum for cross-pollination of ideas and best practices, however, the schools remain trapped in the silo effect. And so we introduced AEFIS to get the conversation forward thinking.

Shifting the conversation from: how data is collected and stored – the logistics of assessment – to the real meat and potatoes of it: what data should we be collecting and how should we use it to improve student learning, got the audience more engaged!

The outcomes that ABET expects from students at the completion of degree programs can be difficult to assess and report on, especially if there is little or unsustainable infrastructure in place. Development of assessments can be trial and error based and begs for collaboration. So we dove right into some assessment activity questions:

How does your institution assess ethical components to report on outcomes/objectives?
  • Assessment Measures:
    • Scenario based test questions
    • Developed case studies
    • Field exercise interviews
  • …How is student performance rated / documented?
    • Against a rubric
  • …How often is such a rubric reviewed / adapted?
    • Rarely
How does your institution report on Program Educational Objectives?
  • Assessment Measures:
    • Student certifications post-graduation
  • …Does this demonstrate success or student learning?
    • Open for discussion
  • …How can we increase our response rates for alumni surveys?
    • Open for discussion

These and more questions are being posed by institutions as they plan their assessment efforts. And these questions only started the process of assessing our assessing.

We encourage you to review the questions that workshop participants considered. Download a copy of the workshop materials at our website. Please feel free to share your ideas and comments or let us know what questions we should be asking!

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