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Academy for the Assessment of Student Learning


What is the Assessment Academy?


The HLC Academy for Assessment of Student Learning offers member institutions a four-year sequence of events and interactions that focus on accelerating and advancing the assessment and improvement of student learning and building institution-wide commitment to these efforts. Participation in the Academy offers involvement in forums for institutional teams to receive consultation from mentors, receive & provide feedback, network, and share good practice. Participants also receive analysis, critique, and feedback on their assessment project design and progress toward implementation.


What will UNI do as part of the Assessment Academy? 


The primary focus for UNI’s participation in the Assessment Academy is to create, begin to implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of a plan for assessment of learning in the curriculum for the revised Liberal Arts Core currently under development.

Preparation for developing a plan will involve a number of possible activities, for example:

determining measureable behaviors that relate to the learning outcomes for the Core

  • viewing models of general education assessment from other institutions,
  • identifying potential assessment strategies,
  • analyzing benefits and drawbacks related to specific assessment strategies (e.g., cost, time and resources required for administration, usefulness of data provided, etc.),
  • providing resources and training for understanding and using the strategies,
  • connecting assessment strategies with intended LAC learning outcomes.

Developing a plan will require making decisions related to:


  • which assessment strategies to use,
  • what courses/settings/populations to target for specific assessment strategies,
  • timing and timelines for administration of assessment,
  • lines of responsibility and/or necessary administrative structures to use or create (e.g., the Liberal Arts Core category review process, category coordinating committees)
  • reports—what data, to whom, when, how often, etc.,
  • methods for archiving assessment information,
  • strategies for sharing and acting upon assessment information for curricular change.

A second goal for Academy participation is to increase graduate program involvement in assessment of student learning, with strong student outcomes assessment plans, annual assessment reports, and use of assessment data for curricular decision-making.  Plans are currently being developed to work toward this goal.


Who is involved in the Assessment Academy?


A variety of committees and initiatives on campus and outside of campus have interests in assessment, the Liberal Arts Core, and the first-year experience of students in general.  The Assessment Academy Leadership Team provides oversight for the process of creating a new assessment plan for the Liberal Arts Core by bringing together representatives from campus groups involved with these issues to ensure connected and collaborative decision-making as we move forward with reviewing and strengthening student learning related to the Core.


How can faculty and staff share in decision-making related to the Liberal Arts Core?


It is important that decisions related to the Liberal Arts Core and assessment of student learning in the Core are the result of campus-wide thought and conversations.  Faculty and staff can become involved in the following ways:


  • Take part in opportunities to provide ideas and feedback--e.g., surveys, workshops and presentations, open discussions, reports to department meetings and other group settings;
  • Talk to members of the Assessment Academy Leadership Team and members of the committees that are involved with assessment, LAC, and first-year issues;.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to serve when seats open on related committees;
  • Become familiar with the work of committees connected with issues relating to the LAC and first-year students.

What has been accomplished to date?


The following are some activities related to review of the Liberal Arts Core and its assessment that have taken place so far:


  • Creation of three potential models for the curriculum of the Liberal Arts Core and a faculty/staff survey related to the models;
  • Reports on survey results presented to College Senates;
  • Recruitment, hiring, and presentation of a 3-week faculty development workshop for faculty who will teach Cornerstone sections during the 2011-2012 school year;
  • Progress on developing assessment strategies for the Cornerstone course;
  • Preparations for fall campus presentations by experts on critical thinking and the use of portfolios in teaching and learning;
  • Identification of data sources to measure student accomplishments related to outcomes for the first year, developed by the First-Year Council, and creation of a template for reporting data to the university community;
  • Reports on results from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Proficiency Profile, and the NSSE Consortium for the Student of Writing in College available on the web page for the Office of Academic Assessment.


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