From the Director
By Dr. Tonia Bock (Director of Accreditation and Assessment / Professor Psychology)
Welcome to our very first issue of Tommie Assessment in Action, UST’s newsletter focused on program-level assessment of student learning goals. The purpose of our newsletter is to inform our campus community of student learning assessment news, information, and resources. In doing so, we feature four specific assessment-related columns that form the organizational structure of our semiannual newsletter. I describe each feature below and introduce the articles in our inaugural issue.
FROM THE DIRECTOR: Featuring assessment-related news and information from the Director of Accreditation and Assessment.
The sub-title of this feature is pretty self-explanatory – I will be sharing assessment-related information that is important for the campus community to know. This may include assessment projects we are or will be undertaking, assessment-related policies or practices, or relevant assessment trends. “From the Director” in this issue is simply what you’re reading now: an introduction to our newsletter, explaining the themes of the featured articles we’ll include in every issue.
ASSESSING TOMMIES: Featuring our own work at UST in student learning assessment.
Here at UST, rather than having a university committee or group of administrators assessing student learning in departments and units, faculty and staff in their respective curricular and co-curricular units are responsible for assessing student learning goals. The strength of this approach is that faculty and staff, who are the experts of student learning in their unit, are empowered to create, implement, and maintain a meaningful assessment plan. A challenge, though, is that faculty and staff’s assessment work can feel insular because it is so highly situated in each curricular and co-curricular unit. Our newsletter intends to address this challenge by highlighting assessment work across our campus. As we know, there is no one “right” way to assess student learning. Instead, each curricular and co-curricular unit must tailor best practices of assessment to their unique context. In my new role as Director of Accreditation and Assessment, I now see that we do this all across our campus community. I am very excited to facilitate the sharing of the excellent assessment work that we do. I hope that hearing about others’ assessment of student learning will inspire new ideas in your own assessment efforts, start new conversations around assessment, and simply inform what great assessment work we do in all corners of our community. We will start by highlighting student learning assessment in a specific UST college or school, and will transition to profiling assessment work in co-curricular units and at departmental levels. In our first issue, we have the Opus College of Business sharing their assessment endeavors with us.
TOMMIE ASSESSMENT RESOURCES: Featuring UST resources for student learning assessment.
We have many excellent resources for assessing student learning right here on campus. One of our greatest resources is our Assessment Consultants. If you’re not familiar with our UST Assessment Consulting Services, here is a quick summary: our terrific group of UST assessment-informed faculty and staff can individually or jointly provide free, confidential assistance with a unit’s assessment work, whether big or small, just starting or more advanced (for more information, visit: https://stthomas.edu/accreditation-assessment/resources/consulting/). We will be spotlighting our Assessment Consultants so that you can become more familiar with their assessment interest, background, and skills. In this issue, we provide a Q & A with our newest Assessment Consultant: Darcy Turner.
ASSESSMENT BEYOND UST: Featuring assessment resources and information from the broader field of student learning assessment.
In the past decade or so, student learning assessment has become a field in its own right. We now have professional associations devoted to student learning assessment (e.g., Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education) as well as graduate programs for professional training and development in this area. Sarah Smith, our University Learning Assessment Analyst, will share fantastic information and resources with us from the field of student learning assessment. In this issue, Sarah briefly describes curriculum mapping for assessment, summarizes the benefits of it, and directs us to an article that explains the important process more fully.
Before I close, I want to briefly share with you two important assessment-related news items that will receive more attention in the next issue (spring semester) of our newsletter:
News item #1: This year, UST is preparing an Assurance Argument for our institutional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission (for more information, see: https://news.stthomas.edu/st-thomas-prepares-higher-learning-commission-assurance-review/). For reasons that I will explain in the next issue of our newsletter, student learning assessment is an important component of our Assurance Argument.
News item #2: A new University Learning Assessment Plan was presented to the Faculty Senate in November. As part of this plan, the University Assessment Committee’s name, purpose, and membership were revised. The Faculty Senate recently approved these revisions. There will be more details to come on this topic in the spring semester issue of our newsletter.
In the meantime, enjoy reading the other articles in the inaugural issue of our newsletter. And please feel free to contact me with any questions, ideas, comments, and suggestions about the newsletter specifically or student learning assessment more broadly.