Assessment of Student Learning

DATE: April 9, 1997
SUBJECT: Minutes of the Fourteenth Meeting of the Task Force on Assessment of Students' Learning
PRESENT: Eric Bass, Nat Hart, Engin Sungur, Dean Schuman, Gwen Rudney, Edith Borchardt, Jim Cotter, Bert Ahern
ABSENT: Jason Kohler, Tom Johnson

Jason Kohler is joining the TFASL as the student representative replacement for Eric Bower.

During Spring Quarter, most of the TFASL meetings will meet on Wednesday at 4pm; however, sometimes the meetings will be on Thursdays.


Approval of Progress Report II

The task force reviewed the draft copy of Progress Report II for changes and appendages before approving it to go to NCA. This report will be helpful in the Monday (April 14) Campus Assembly meeting when the current assessment process is voted on by the Campus Assembly.

Dean Schuman suggested that a 1-2 page executive summary be included at the beginning of the report to give a quick summary of what the report includes. The task force agreed, and an executive summary will be included in the beginning of the Progress Report II along with a section from the Chancellor and from the Dean of Academic Learning.

Dean Schuman also raised a viable concern regarding NCA. NCA has yet to give feedback to the TFASL about the first Progress Report. He felt uncomfortable continuing without a response from the first Progress Report, but felt that we must continue to go forward with the assessment process. When Progress Report II gets sent to NCA, the TFASL will ask Dr. Lopez what steps the completed documentation needs to go through. The task force wants to know if the documentation needs to go through an external panel of referees and when will it do this.

Another question raised about the Progress Report II regards informal assessment. There was some confusion about whether the task force would be doing any informal assessment. The report means that many of the disciplines have been doing nonformalized assessment and by instituting an assessment process, the TFASL is building the formal assessment process around the informal existing assessment practices. At this time, the TFASL is not planning on doing any nonformalized assessment.

Part of the Progress Report referred to observational and experimental assessment processes. After some discussion about the definitions of observational and experimental assessment, Gwen Rudney suggested that the term "descriptive" be used in place of "observational". This change will be made in the final draft of Progress Report II.

Because the individual disciplines are responsible for their own assessment, a question was raised about who decides what the appropriate response should be to the assessment results. One way to ensure that disciplines follow up on their assessment results would be to have the Curriculum Committee approve any changes in a discipline's learning objectives and outcomes. A problem with this idea is disciplines might be tempted to strive for bad assessment results in order for the Curriculum Committee to approve changes in their learning objectives. External discipline reviews will be implemented in a couple of years (2000-2001) and the task force decided to use these external reviews to help decide if a discipline has been fulfilling its learning objectives. The entire external discipline review process will be reinvented to make sure everything runs smoothly. Progress Report II does state that external discipline reviews will be implemented in the future.

The new assessment process should also help in the allocation of resources across campus. The new focus of resource allocations will be on student learning. A question frequently asked is why resource decisions get made the way they do. Part of the problem is due to the age of our institution. The University is still too young to have every process written down, but is too old to have the original people who knew exactly what was going on still working here.

Jim Cotter motioned to endorse Progress Report II. Nat Hart and Dean Schuman both seconded it. The vote was all in favor, no opposed, and no abstentions.

The names of all the current TFASL members will be included on the first page of Progress Report II.

Curriculum Committee Memo

The main concerns of the memo still include unknowingly approving changes which will require realllocation of funds and whether parts of the assessment process, ie. learning objectives, should be in the Bulletin. The TFASL and the Curriculum Committee may have to sit down at a later date and discuss this.

Form B

Question II on Form B deals with the Goals/Objectives of the discipline. Since some disciplines are planning to use the learning objectives from the Assessment of Student Learning Survey and other disciplines will be taking their goals directly from the Student Bulletin, a question was raised about whether we should strive for consistency on this question. One suggestion to help make disciplines more consistent is to give an example of what to write in the goals/objectives section of Form B.

The situation with the Bulletin and the consistency problems with Form B will be discussed further in the next meeting of the TFASL.

submitted by Julie Brotzler