Three Items for the University Assessment Professional’s Workspace

workspace_blogOur jobs entail working closely with faculty, staff and campus administrators to ensure that students are successfully acquiring knowledge, skills, competencies, and values. Keeping those end goals in mind, we design programs, curricula, assignments and continuously monitor progress. Collaborating across departments, we reflect on results to see whether we’ve met our goals and then we start over again.  

Recognizing that your workspace is a very personal choice, here are three items that I post at eye-level to reinforce the kind of work we are doing on a daily basis:

1.) Institutional Learning Outcomes
Institutional learning outcomes (ILO’s) stem from the mission and specify what graduates will be able to do as a result of their educational experiences (e.g. display leadership skills, communicate professionally, apply an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving). I keep this list right in front of me on a pushpin board for reference so that I am intimately familiar with each outcome, and able to discuss meaning in conversations. Posting the list prominently heightens transparency around efforts by guiding questions on gathering evidence of learning, “How do we know that our students ….?”  Whether on the telephone, participating in a virtual meeting, or hosting a visit for a colleague – having this list handy helps to keep us focused on our efforts and stick to timetables in our plans.  As a side benefit, when anybody curious asks me, “Assessment…is that like testing and stuff?” I can help provide big picture answers about how and what we all work together to do.

2.) Accreditation Standards
Beyond the desire to continuously improve academic quality through critical self-reflection, we strive to adhere to standards for external accountability.  Personally, I like to keep the WASC Senior College and University Commission 2013 Standards at a Glance highly visible on my bulletin board.  From an assessment perspective, we can quickly refer to the criteria for review and to pose self-reflective questions around teaching and scholarship, collect data on student learning, our use of that data to achieve objectives. You can similarly post standards for other regional accreditors, specialty accreditation standards for programs, state requirements, or others that best suit your needs.

3.) Inspirational Quotations
Displaying inspirational quotations helps us to affirm our efforts, guard us against negativity, and focus on what we value. Right now I have, “Hurdles are for jumping over” and “After all this is over, all that will have really mattered is how we treat each other.” Side note: If you prefer something funny you might like, “Everyone likes change except for the ‘change’ part” from James T. Minor – always a favorite!

These are just some ideas that I hope you have found helpful… what does your workspace look like?



By David Turbow, Ph.D.

Outcomes Assessment Coordinator
University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences