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Assessment Update Every other month, each issue brings you
  • Innovative program models from 2- and 4-year colleges, universities, and community colleges across the country 
  • Advice on conducting assessment in a range of areas, including general education, academic majors, and student services such as advising
  • Analysis of national issues, state accountability mandates, and assessment measures 
  • and more
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Other Publications of Interest
A Bird's Eye View of Assessment
Here, pioneer Trudy Banta illuminates the many facets of assessment in colleges and universities during the past two decades. Addressing the principles of good assessment practice, she gives an insider s perspective and shares the larger questions and answers encountered in assessment. In the final section, she looks at assessment outside the United States. This valuable publication will give you a broader, deeper appreciation of the successes, snares, and future of outcomes assessment.

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Stopping the BuckSpecially selected from the archives of the award-winning journal Assessment Update, the articles gathered together in Stopping the Buck offer readers a unique opportunity to take a deep, historical look at outcomes assessment in higher education as it has evolved over the past several decades. Written by Peter Ewell, author of the pioneering work in the field, it tracks, on a state-by-state basis, progress, trends, and practices in outcomes assessment among institutions of higher learning since the 1990s, a time when diminished funding and increased demand for accountability shifted the focus to performance indicators and institutional comparisons.

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Assessing the Impact of an Assessment Communication Campaign

November 2015

If you have ever read through student comments submitted in your institutional surveys, you probably have come across a comment like this one: “I don't even know why I bother filling out these surveys. I don't fully believe that anyone is reading them.” In the course of assessment work, a lot is asked of students, particularly for add-on assessments like surveys, focus groups, and standardized exams. If the expectation is for students to keep responding to requests and participating in assessment efforts, they need to know what happens with all of the feedback they contribute. Communicating the results of assessment efforts and their use has been identified as a “key strategy for getting students on board with the assessment process” (Bresciani, Gardner, and Hickmott 2009, 80). At UMass Dartmouth, a campaign was initiated during the fall of 2013 to help raise student awareness of how the feedback they provide through surveys and discussion groups is acted upon at the university. Changes informed by student feedback submitted through surveys and discussion groups are identified, then publicized through posters, flyers, table tents, campus TV ads, ads in the student newspaper, and the university intranet.


Editor's Notes

Accentuating the Positive in Our Work

April 23, 2014

As I write this there is a vigorous debate on the ASSESS listserv (assess@lsv.uky.edu) about the advisability of posting departmental assessment findings on a public website. The first to respond argued that in some environments posting negative findings could provoke punitive measures from administrators, or at the least color unfavorably the impressions of the department in the minds of colleagues in other disciplines. The argument that appears to be winning the day is that positive outcomes can be derived if departmental colleagues report for all to see what they are learning from assessment and how they are responding to its findings.

In this issue Linda McHenry observes that the typical approach to studying student retention is to ask, “What went wrong with the students who didn’t stay at our institution?” Her approach is to ask instead, “What are our successful students doing that helps them continue to study at our university?”



Including Faculty in Accreditation Preparation: Boon or Bane?

February 26, 2014

THE ACCREDITATION PROCESS IN higher education has undergone dramatic changes in the past twenty years (Ewell 2005; Volkwein 2010; Wolff 2005), having substantive impact on the nature of institutional research, the creation of a culture of continuous improvement, and the proliferation of resources—both personnel and technology—to assist institutions. Meeting accreditation standards, with their emphasis on student and program outcomes and accountability, has spawned accreditation coordinators who use software such as Compliance AssistTM to streamline their focused accreditation work. Increasingly, the knowledge of the ever-changing accreditation process is the purview of a select few who are assigned this work on their campuses, attend highly specific conferences and workshops designed for them, and participate as reviewers on other campuses to have the “inside track” on what passes muster. Consolidating the process within the ranks of a knowledgeable few can ensure accuracy, commitment to a high-quality product, and adherence to a strict, yet often shorter, timeline; but at the cost of limited input, lack of understanding by many, and little ownership of institutional performance and change. Who is the group most likely to be on the fringe of the accreditation process? The faculty are often the outsiders.


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MEET THE EDITOR

Trudy W. Banta  
Managing Editor

Trudy W. Banta is a pioneer in outcomes assessment in higher education whose career in this area began when she was asked by the chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) to coordinate that institution’s response to Tennessee’s performance funding initiative for public institutions.  Read more

Consulting Editors
Peter T. Ewell
National Center for Higher Education Management Systems

Thomas Anthony Angelo
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

T. Dary Erwin
James Madison University

Cecilia L. Lopez
Harold Washington College (Ret)

Marcia Mentkowski
Alverno College

Jeffrey A. Seybert
Higher Education Consultant

Peter J. Gray
United States Naval Academy (Ret)

Gary R. Pike
Professor of Higher Education, IUPUI
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