Assessment of Student Learning

DATE: February 13, 1997
SUBJECT: Minutes of the Eighth Meeting of the Task Force on Assessment of Students' Learning
PRESENT: Bert Ahern, Jim Cotter, Edith Borchardt, Nat Hart, Tom Johnson, Nancy Mooney, Dean Sam Schuman, Engin Sungur
ABSENT: Eric Bass, Eric Bauer, Carol Marxen

The Task Force on Assessment of Students' Learning met on February 13, 1997 at 4:00 pm. in the Prairie Lounge.

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

1) Assessment of Students' Learning: Planning Exercise and Survey 1 for the following disciplines:

a) Geology

b) Secondary Education

Approval of Minutes: Minutes from meeting #7 approved as is. Engin Sungur made the motion to approve the minutes, and Edith Borchardt seconded it. The vote was all in favor, no opposed, and no abstentions.

Bert Ahern made the announcement that Eric Baurer would be resigning from the task force because he had class during meeting times.

Discussion: Budget Agreement

Although many issues about the budget are still undecided, the University needs an idea of where to get the extra resources to implement the rest of the assessment process. Bert Ahern mentioned that if the TFASL didn't try to find where the resources would come from, no one would. There was a consensus that most of the assessment process could be implemented without additional funding, but the problem of how to help units asking for some additional resources still exists.

Who will be in charge of the assessment process?

The two main options for how the assessment process is overseen are:

1) A faculty member would be the coordinator.

2) The Assessment of Student Learning Committee would be in charge of the assessment process.

The Task Force discussed the advantages and disadvantages of both options at length.

Assessment of Student Learning Committee

If the Committee was in charge of the assessment process, they would be in charge of making policy and bringing the policy before the Campus Assembly. Each person on the Committee would be responsible for a large amount of work and there were concerns as to who would answer questions asked by NCA or other people regarding the assessment process. The task force wants to make sure that these questions are answered in a manner that the Committee would agree with. Having the entire committee working on the assessment planning without having a head contact person seemed unfeasible because of the large amount of work involved and the lack of one responsible person to answer questions.

Faculty Coordinator

Having a Faculty Coordinator was the most popular idea because it would keep the assessment process in the hands of the faculty instead of making it an administration process. One of the main goals of the TFASL is to make sure the Assessment Committee keeps control over the assessment process. The assessment process must not grow beyond the capability of the faculty to understand and deal with it. One of the biggest problems with having a Faculty Coordinator would be finding someone who had the time and an interest in the assessment process. Being the Faculty Coordinator would take large amounts of time away from teaching and research. At this time, none of the current faculty members on the Morris campus are doing research in the assessment area. If a member of the faculty does become the Faculty Coordinator, they will need some form of compensation, either release time or summer salary.

The task force felt a Faculty Coordinator would need to serve a 2-3 year term. One suggested solution to the problem of training in someone new every few years is having a staff person who dealt with assessment planning on a regular basis and reported directly to the Faculty Coordinator and the Committee. They could then help train in the new Faculty Coordinators as well as being a continuing source of information to the Assessment Committee. The Institutional Research Office would be a possible location for this staff person. If the Institutional Research Office is used to help the Assessment Committee in this way, they would definitely need to hire another person.

Another suggestion is that the Coordinator could work with the Faculty Center. A valid concern is to make sure the work for the assessment process doesn't get imposed on the Faculty Center. The Faculty Center's main job is to focus on issues that interest and helps the faculty. Since assessment planning isn't on the list of priorities, the Faculty Center doesn't want to spend time dealing with it when it could be focusing on something more rewarding to the faculty. The option of the Coordinator working together with the Faculty Center held more appeal because it would keep the process entirely in the hands of the faculty.

One of the biggest requirements for the Faculty Coordinator position is that the person must have teaching experience. At this time, it is generally agreed that the Faculty Coordinator should, if possible, come from the current faculty and serve a 2-3 year term with either release time or summer salary for compensation.

Bert Ahern stated that he would type up a basic statement of what the committee agreed upon because some of the task force members had to leave before the end of the meeting.

To be discussed at the next TFASL meeting:

1) General Education Assessment

2) NCA report

submitted by Julie Brotzler