Assessment of Student Learning



DATE: February 27, 1997
SUBJECT: Minutes of the Tenth Meeting of the Task Force on Assessment of Students' Learning
PRESENT: Bert Ahern,Eric Bass, Edith Borchardt, Jim Cotter, Nat Hart, Tom Johnson, Carol Marxen, Engin Sungur
ABSENT: Dean Schuman



The Task Force on Assessment of Students' Learning met on February 27, 1997 at 4 pm. in Student Activities Conference Room.


Before the meeting began, Engin Sungur handed out the following:


1) Assessment of Student Learning Survey from the Sociology Department


2) Draft of the Assessment of Students' Learning: Unit Plans


Bert Ahern handed out a statement with the basic goals for the Common Course from Jooinn Lee, the Chair of the Common Experiences Committee.


Approval of Minutes The minutes for meeting #8 approved as it. Carol Marxen motioned to approve the minutes and Jim Cotter seconded it. The vote was all in favor, no opposed, and no abstentions.


Discussion:


Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Representative


While both the Institutional Research office and the Dean have valuable expertise and knowledge that the TFASL could use, the task force decided Dean Schuman should be the representative on the Committee. The Dean works more closely with assessment processes than Institutional Research, and he knows exactly what resources the University has and what the University can get if need be. Since the Dean works with the assessment process, the TFASL also felt there would be a smaller chance of misunderstandings between the Committee and the Dean if he attended the meetings.


Feedback to Programs


Engin Sungur handed out a draft copy of the "Assessment of Students' Learning: Unit Plans" at the beginning of the meeting. It thanked the units for filling out the first survey, informed them that many units have been doing assessment, and had a list of additional questions for the units to fill out. Some of the problems with the surveys are:


1) Date- Some units are not implementing their assessment plans until 1999.


2) Learning Objective/Expected Outcomes- Some units having difficulties determining the difference between the two.


Engin suggested that he would talk to the individual units that had problems with the Learning Objective and Expected Outcomes informally and see if he could explain it in person better then by writing to them.


After some discussion, several suggestions were made to help units understand what is expected.


1) The task force could use "good" surveys from different units using different approaches and have the people involved in their design give a little presentation on how they filled out the survey. Concerns with this included; singling some units out, having the committee make the decision between "good" and "bad" surveys, and whether people would go to the presentations.


2) The task force could let people know what needs to be cleared up on their survey, and leave it up to the units to go to the Web page (http://www.morris.umn.edu/committees.asl/) and look at other units' surveys for examples. The units could then see what tools other people were using for the assessment process. A problem with this is not everyone has easy access to the Internet, so they might not take the extra time to look at the surveys.


3) When the Survey for Assessment of Students' Learning: Unit Plans gets sent out, the task force could send out examples of what the TFASL is looking for when answering the second set of questions and redoing some of the first questions.


The additional questions on the 'Assessment of Students' Learning: Unit Plans' were discussed to decide which would be on the final draft. One suggestion was to have a paragraph asking a number of questions, and then allowing units to reply to the paragraph in their own style and commenting on the questions most relevant to them. One of the main questions will be, 'How do you plan on using this assessment data, and whom will you share it with?'. Another suggestion was to send out a summary statement from NCA along with the questions we want the units to respond to. This would let the units know what and why they are answering more questions. One valid concern was that we need to make this a two stage process. First, we need to give the units feedback on their surveys and tell them how to improve them, then we can ask them additional questions and ask them to share their responses with other units. One thing to keep in mind is that units will probably not do the additional work on the surveys, or answer the additional questions until after they get back from break.


To be discussed at the next TFASL meeting:


1) Need to decided collectively whether the task force wants to endorse the purposed plan.


2) Discuss the amount of support the Faculty Coordinator will need and were will it come from.


submitted by Julie Brotzler