Lewis University’s participation in the Higher Learning Commission’s Assessment Academy is a continuation of Lewis University’s initial AQIP Action Project: Student Learning Outcomes. This was the first step in developing a university-wide assessment of student learning outcomes. At the Academy Roundtable, the team developed a strategy for facilitating assessment plans of Baccalaureate Characteristic #6: Critical and Creative Thinking by diverse academic units. The expectation is that this strategy will lead to the development of a template that will serve as a model for developing assessments of the remaining six characteristics.
Factors that have and continue to impact this project is that the four colleges and their academic departments are at different stages in assessing student learning outcomes. Some have already developed programs and are collecting data and using them for improving teaching and learning. Others are just beginning to understand the need for and benefits of assessment. Consequently one issue facing the members of the Assessment Team (A Team) is to provide support to these groups wherever they are in the process.
The opportunities from participating in the Academy are many:
In the first year, five departments/programs participated: Economics (College of Business), Theater and Theology (College of Arts and Sciences), RN/BSN (College of Nursing) and Special Education (College of Education). Each of these departments defined the terms critical and creative thinking as they relate to their specific discipline as well as what the terms associated with the three levels of achievements associated with the Baccalaureate Characteristics: introduce, reinforce, and mastery . The departmental assessment teams, using the curriculum maps created in the first Action Project, identified classes in which BC #6 is addressed and created assignments and rubrics to be implemented in 09-10.
Representatives of the A Team Committee as well as members of the pilot projects attended the assessment conference at Texas A&M in February, 2009. On March 11, 2009, Dr. Trudy Banta presented a workshop entitled Generating Student Learning Outcomes to facilitate the work of the pilot projects as well as all other units, academic and non-academic, developing assessment plans. This was followed in May by a faculty development workshop in the Lewis University May Faculty Institute on the development of rubrics.
Four new departments/programs joined the A Team pilot projects: Communications (College of Arts and Sciences), Business (College of Business), Elementary Education (College of Education) and the Scholar’s Academy. These teams also developed definitions for the terms and levels as well as identifying courses, assignments and creating rubrics.
The original pilot project teams reported at a university-wide seminar on their experiences in the first year on Sept. 9, 2009. The Economics team applied, was accepted and presented at IUPUI’s Annual Assessment Conference in November, 2009 while the Theology team presented at Texas A & M’s Annual Assessment Conference in February 2010. A second assessment workshop, cosponsored by the Lewis University Assessment Committee and the A Team was held in March 2010 with Dr. Susan Hatfield presenting Assessing Student Learning/Program Effectiveness.
On Sept. 8, 2010 the two sets of pilot project teams reported at a university-wide seminar on their progress over during the previous year. The last call for new pilot project teams was also made at the seminar. A third assessment workshop is scheduled for March of 2011 which will focus on measures and setting targets.