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Don’t Miss Peter Ewell, Our Featured Keynote Speaker: Register Today!

April 3, 2017

LTAC 2017 Banner Final

 

You Won’t Want To Miss This Featured Keynote Speaker!

Join LiveText at our 16th Annual Assessment & Collaboration Conference in Chicago, July 10-12. When we invite speakers to our Conference, we look for leaders who have practiced, who have researched, and who continue to learn from those around them. We look for the experts who will augment your knowledge, increase your expertise, and challenge you to grow in your current role. Dr. Peter Ewell is one of those speakers! Don’t miss him…. Make your reservation today!

Having It Both Ways: Ameliorating the Tension Between Accountability and Improvement
Dr. Peter Ewell  |  President Emeritus |  National Center for Higher Education Management Systems 

Since its beginnings in the early 1980s, the assessment of student learning has always harbored a contradiction: is its principle purpose to improve teaching and learning or to satisfy the demands of stakeholders outside the academy that desired results are being achieved? This contradiction is inherent and affects virtually every aspect of assessment practice — from the instruments chosen to the way results are displayed and used. It can never be entirely overcome. With judicious leadership and the proper mix of culture and technology, it can be ameliorated.

This plenary first explores the conceptual origins of the tension between accountability and improvement in assessment and attempts to explain why so many institutions get “stuck” with a compliance approach to assessment that isolates itself from instructional reality and alienates many teaching faculty. It then goes on to suggest ways of establishing instructional expectations, creating teaching and learning settings, examining student work, and archiving results that can overcome this compliance culture to yield meaningful and actionable information.  “Having it both ways” is assuredly not easy. It can be accomplished so long as institutional assessment efforts are intentional, broadly participatory, and grounded in appropriate organizational and technological infrastructures.


Interested? Visit our Summer Conference website to learn more. With a powerhouse lineup of speakers, it’s the one assessment conference you cannot miss!

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Collaborate With Your Colleagues at #LTAC17…check out our workshops

March 30, 2017

LTAC 2017 Banner Final

 

Collaborate With Your Colleagues
Hands-on Assessment Workshops!

LiveText cordially invites you to join us at our 16th Annual Assessment & Collaboration Conference in Chicago, July 10-12.

Network with an esteemed group of educators, specialists, and consultants at our yearly forum. With expert assessments specialists and experienced practitioners on the program, you’ll leave with tried and true approaches to bring back to campus. Take advantage of workshop opportunities included with registration.

Designing Quality Rubrics for the Institution
Dr. Lance Tomei  |  former Director of Assessment, Accreditation & Data Management
University of Central Florida

This workshop includes a discussion on the value-added of high quality rubrics and when the use of rubrics is both appropriate and desirable. We will address basic rubric design strategies and the effect of intended usage on design characteristics. The workshop will recommend best practice rubric design philosophies and identify commonly observed rubric weaknesses to avoid. The attributes of high quality rubrics will be discussed and some examples of well-designed rubrics will be provided, including one that can be used to evaluate the quality of other rubrics.


Developing an Assessment Culture: Strategic Approaches to Faculty Development in Assessment
Dr. Donna Sundre  |  Emeritus Executive Director
Dr. Keston Fulcher ​​​​ ​​​|  Executive Director
Center for Assessment and Research Studies (CARS), James Madison University

Assessment practice provides evidence of student learning outcomes, a vital component of all regional accreditors. Through quality assessment, academic programs can trust their results and make informed program changes. Developing a culture of assessment is difficult but possible through strategic faculty development initiatives. The presenters will describe a model for developing faculty expertise in assessment. By knowing where faculty members are in their understanding and practices of assessment, we can more strategically assist them and further build campus assessment culture. In addition to providing effective development strategies, we will ask attendees to discuss strategies and challenges at their institutions.


Transforming an Institution’s Culture of Assessment
Dr. Peter Jonas  |  Professor 
Cardinal Stritch University 

This workshop is designed to help individuals and groups learn how to systematically and in a practical (and fun) manner truly use assessment to develop a culture of continuous improvement. Dr. Peter Jonas has 30 years of experience in research, assessment, higher education, and more importantly how to integrate humor into systems development. He has served as a professor of research and as a High Learning Commission peer reviewer. Consequently, this workshop will attempt to merge the research behind assessment, the criteria of accreditation organizations, and practical solutions on how to really use the data to move the organization forward. Remember, Assessment is like sex: Everyone talks about it. Nobody really knows how to do it. Everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.


Interested? Visit our Summer Conference website to learn more. With a powerhouse lineup of speakers, it’s the one assessment conference you cannot miss!

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The Value of an Assessment Conference

March 30, 2017

In anticipation of last year’s LiveText Annual Assessment Conference, I shared a bit of history regarding my long-standing relationship with LiveText, my high regard for their technology, their amazing customer service, and their commendable commitment to the education profession. That commitment is evident in their sponsorship of multiple national, regional, and state conferences throughout the year and is highlighted by their Annual Assessment Conference held each year in July. This year, I am eagerly anticipating LiveText’s 16th Annual Assessment Conference scheduled in Chicago July 10-12.

Having attended all 15 previous LiveText Annual Assessment Conferences (the first was held in 2002), I can’t begin to count the number of incredibly informative sessions I have attended during the history of this conference. Each year seems to further raise the bar on excellence in assessment conferences, which attracts some of the most highly regarded leaders and researchers in education and assessment as featured speakers. Concurrent sessions offer opportunities that meet the varied needs of all attendees and serve as a model in professional collaboration. Attendees do not have to be LiveText users to gain valuable insight on best practices in assessment—a topic that is increasingly important for all educational professionals.

Attendees that are LiveText users will appreciate the dedicated training sessions, interactive work rooms, workshops, and a variety of concurrent sessions all designed to help them enhance their assessment practices, hone their LiveText skills, and learn how to expand their use of the wide array of LiveText tools available. LiveText will also update attendees on the latest technology enhancements as well as planned improvements still in development. Throughout the conference, attendees have ample opportunity to provide user (and potential user) feedback to LiveText to help inform ongoing product development.

I have consistently found this conference to be the most relevant and valuable professional development opportunity available, both in terms of the many and varied formal sessions and in terms of the incredible collaboration opportunities that have always been a hallmark of this event. Each year, I have left the conference with new knowledge and skills that I could put to immediate use on the job.  That said, attendees can also always look forward to a couple of very special evening events that are entertaining while providing further opportunities for collegiality and collaboration. Simply stated, the annual LiveText Assessment Conference is a not-to-be-missed event for anyone who wants to keep pace with the rapidly evolving arena of assessment in higher education, explore or enhance their proficiency in LiveText exceptional array of technology tools, and expand their collaborative network.

I am truly looking forward to my 16th consecutive year of benefiting from this amazing event. Won’t you join me?

Visit www.livetextconference.com to learn more and register!

 Dr. Lance Tomei, President & CEO, LT Consulting LLC
(retired) Director of Assessment, Accreditation & Data Management, University of Central Florida

P.S. See some of these highlights from last year’s event!

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LTAC17 Session Spotlight…Meet a Featured Keynote!

March 20, 2017

LTAC 2017 Banner Final

Session Spotlight: Meet a Featured Keynote

Horacio-SanchezMr. Horacio Sanchez is the President/CEO of Resiliency Inc., an organization that applies brain-based science and best practice research to a framework that helps agencies learn how to accomplish reform and to implement it in order to achieve identified goals and outcomes.

Horacio has utilized his training as an educator and clinician toward the education and treatment of children with severe emotional disorders. The Maladaptive Council (Academy of Science) recognizes him as a leading authority in emotional disorders and resiliency. His approaches are not only based on sound scientific research but have been the foundations of his award winning mental health and educational programs. Horacio Sanchez has been a teacher, school administrator, Mental Health Director and Consultant to the Department of Education in NC, PA, and other states. Horacio’s diverse education and background has helped him to merge research, science, and practice. His new book, A Brain-Based Approach to Closing the Achievement Gap, provides a blueprint to help school districts close the achievement gap.

Interested in attending LiveText’s Conference this summer? Visit our Assessment Conference website for more information. 


Keynote Session:

Promoting Student Success

Self-regulation is the one mental process that overrides obstacles that hinder planning, attention, learning, memory, and the coping skills required for students to achieve immediate goals and obtain long-term success. Without the skill to self-regulate, students will succumb to the whim of every thought, distraction, emotion, and desire. The lack of self-regulation is the root of many of the behavioral and academic issues education faces today. The development of self-control enables students to transcend life’s obstacles and engage in new skills that promote academic success (Inzlicht, Bartholow, & Hirsh, 2015). Therefore, educators need to know how to promote self-regulation in order to maximize student achievement. In this session, we’ll learn the key steps identified by neuroscience to promote self-regulation. The steps identified in the research have been found to help students placed at-risk by life’s circumstances to experience life success.

Concurrent Session:

Understanding the Male and Female Brain

Unique structural differences between the male and female brain begin to explain why boys and girls see, feel, and respond to experiences so differently. These structural differences illustrate that the brains of males and females can experience the same event and yet have very different perceptions and reactions. It is now believed that male students and female students learn, communicate and even feel differently. The conclusion that neuroscience has reached is that every person needs to possess a working understanding of how the male and female brain process. This improved understanding can help improve discipline, instruction, and relationship building.

Want to know more?


Read more and register by visiting our Assessment Conference   website.

What’s all the Buzz? If you’ve attended before or have followed the buzz on Twitter, then you know the value of our Conference. As in years past, we’re busy building a powerhouse lineup of speakers and sessions that you just can’t find at other conferences. Our sessions will inspire and challenge you, and ultimately send you back to campus with new ideas and a renewed energy to take your student learning assessment initiatives up a notch! Click below to hear a few thoughts on the value of the Assessment Conference from our past attendees!

Comments Off on LTAC17 Session Spotlight…Meet a Featured Keynote! | Category Blog | Tags:

The Value of an Assessment Conference

March 17, 2017

LTAC 2017 Banner FinalIn anticipation of last year’s LiveText Annual Assessment Conference, I shared a bit of history regarding my long-standing relationship with LiveText, my high regard for their technology, their amazing customer service, and their commendable commitment to the education profession. That commitment is evident in their sponsorship of multiple national, regional, and state conferences throughout the year and is highlighted by their Annual Assessment Conference held each year in July. This year, I am eagerly anticipating LiveText’s 16th Annual Assessment Conference scheduled in Chicago July 10-12.

Having attended all 15 previous LiveText Annual Assessment Conferences (the first was held in 2002), I can’t begin to count the number of incredibly informative sessions I have attended during the history of this conference. Each year seems to further raise the bar on excellence in assessment conferences, which attracts some of the most highly regarded leaders and researchers in education and assessment as featured speakers. Concurrent sessions offer opportunities that meet the varied needs of all attendees and serve as a model in professional collaboration. Attendees do not have to be LiveText users to gain valuable insight on best practices in assessment—a topic that is increasingly important for all educational professionals.

Attendees that are LiveText users will appreciate the dedicated training sessions, interactive work rooms, workshops, and a variety of concurrent sessions all designed to help them enhance their assessment practices, hone their LiveText skills, and learn how to expand their use of the wide array of LiveText tools available. LiveText will also update attendees on the latest technology enhancements as well as planned improvements still in development. Throughout the conference, attendees have ample opportunity to provide user (and potential user) feedback to LiveText to help inform ongoing product development.

I have consistently found this conference to be the most relevant and valuable professional development opportunity available, both in terms of the many and varied formal sessions and in terms of the incredible collaboration opportunities that have always been a hallmark of this event. Each year, I have left the conference with new knowledge and skills that I could put to immediate use on the job.  That said, attendees can also always look forward to a couple of very special evening events that are entertaining while providing further opportunities for collegiality and collaboration. Simply stated, the annual LiveText Assessment Conference is a not-to-be-missed event for anyone who wants to keep pace with the rapidly evolving arena of assessment in higher education, explore or enhance their proficiency in LiveText exceptional array of technology tools, and expand their collaborative network.

I am truly looking forward to my 16th consecutive year of benefiting from this amazing event. Won’t you join me?

Visit www.livetextconference.com to learn more and register!

 Dr. Lance Tomei, President & CEO, LT Consulting LLC
(retired) Director of Assessment, Accreditation & Data Management, University of Central Florida

P.S. See some of these highlights from last year’s event!

Comments Off on The Value of an Assessment Conference | Category Blog | Tags:

LTAC17 Session Spotlight!

March 17, 2017

LTAC 2017 Banner Final

Session Spotlight: Meet Our LTAC Speakers

LiveText is gearing up for its most insightful Summer Conference ever! We have a powerhouse lineup of assessment experts and practitioners focusing on relevant topics to help you become more effective in your current role. These include: assessment and planning, e-Portfolios, data collection, and closing the loop activities.

We invite you to meet two of our featured speakers this week. Both have served as Executive Director of the Center for Assessment and Research Studies (CARS) at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. CARS is the largest higher education assessment center in the United States. The University and the Center have been the recipients of many national assessment awards.

Interested in attending LiveText’s Conference this summer? Visit our Assessment Conference website for more information. 


Concurrent Session:

Evolving From Assessment To Improvement

Dr. Keston Fulcher
Executive Director, Center for Assessment & Research Studies
James Madison
University

Use of Results and Improvement are common terms among assessment practition-ers. Unfortunately, most institutions struggle to connect assessment with learning improvement. This concurrent session is designed to clarify what improve-ment means and how to achieve it. Participants will distinguish between change and improve-ment, identify steps in the improvement model, and describe strategies to overcome obstacles. This session is based on James Madison University’s effort to transform from an assessment institution to a learning improvement institution, a process recognized by a 2015 national CHEA Award for Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes.

Workshop
(Pre-registration Required):

Developing An Assessment Culture: Strategic Approaches To Faculty Development In Assessment

Combined Session

Dr. Keston Fulcher and
Dr. Donna Sundre

Assessment practice provides evidence of student learning outcomes, a vital component of all regional accreditors. Through quality assessment, academic programs can trust their results and make informed pro-gram changes. Developing a culture of assessment is difficult yet possible through strategic faculty develop-ment initiatives. In this session, the presenters will describe a model for developing faculty expertise in assessment. By knowing where faculty members are in their understanding and practices of assessment, we can more strategically assist them and hence further build campus assessment culture. In addition to providing effec-tive development strategies, presenters will ask attendees to discuss strategies and challenges at their institutions.

Concurrent Session:

Calling All Scholars: Winning With Assessment

Dr. Donna Sundre
Emeritus Executive Director, Center for Assessment & Research Studies
James Madison University

The notion of assessment as scholarship is hardly a new one; however, we have not sufficiently mined the many opportunities afforded by quality assessment practice to produce scholarly research. This session will define the prerequisites for the conduct of scholarly assessment as well as identify several rich prospects that span: content areas, methodologies, and stakeholders to expand our research potential. Participants will be invited to explore and share barriers and opportunities for scholarship experienced at their home institutions during the session.


Read more and register by visiting our Assessment Conference   website.

To register for the LiveText Assessment Conference or learn more, visit www.livetextconference.com.

What’s all the Buzz? If you’ve attended before or have followed the buzz on Twitter, then you know the value of our Conference. As in years past, we’re busy building a powerhouse lineup of speakers and sessions that you just can’t find at other conferences. Our sessions will inspire and challenge you, and ultimately send you back to campus with new ideas and a renewed energy to take your student learning assessment initiatives up a notch! Click below to hear a few thoughts on the value of the Assessment Conference from our past attendees!

Comments Off on LTAC17 Session Spotlight! | Category Blog | Tags:

Join us on a Journey…via Assessment…and JMU

March 17, 2017

LTAC 2017 Banner Final

Join our Journey this July!

In today’s Speaker Spotlight…James Madison University!

Assessment seems to be everywhere. Over the last ten years, many more associations, conferences, funding agencies, presentations, journals, articles, and books have paid increasing attention to assessment and assessment related issues. Most of us know that interest in assessment has been around for as long as teachers have been interested in knowing if and how much their students were learning. Every institution with a mission that includes student preparation will be able to provide multiple examples of good assessment, and most of these will emanate from the classroom level.

However, fueled by stakeholders within and outside the institution, assessment has become more formalized. Institution-wide assessment programs and activities are now widespread as recent surveys of institutions of higher education indicate. Assessment work is prevalent, yet use of assessment information for program improvement and study of the impact of assessment is very limited (Peterson & Vaughan, 2002).

What is it that renders some institutional assessment programs dynamic, useful and constructive, while others seem to gather data endlessly without use or purpose?

Drawing from my experiences working for well over a decade as an assessment practitioner at an institution that I believe models excellence, I can hazard some pretty good guesses. Hopefully, my model will generate discussion.

Let me begin with two caveats. First, and in all honesty, my presence (or someone like me) as an assessment practitioner is not the missing ingredient; I have met many very talented and competent assessment professionals that do not enjoy the same fruits from very similar labors. In fact, I have sent out newly minted and highly talented Assessment and Measurement PhDs to institutions that express a true desire to engage in assessment, only to watch them encounter many of the obstacles and barriers I will try to describe in this paper. Second, my institution-wide model is not presented to suggest that classroom or program level assessment endeavors cannot be robust and have impact. As indicated above, many are, but their influence does not extend beyond the source. Life-giving creative energy and institutional knowledge are both lost. This essay provides a model for institution-wide assessment programs that are sustainable and have documented success.

My ideal model for the development of institution-wide assessment would look something like Figure 1 where six sequential components are listed. Each component leads logically to the next, and, as with many developmental models, no component can be skipped or assumed. Each component will be described. Table 1 follows and provides sample negative and positive diagnostic indicators to foster additional conversations. I’m sure many participants will be able to contribute additional indicators. Click to see table of Table 1 for a model of institution wide assessment.

Vision
The model begins with a vision of what the institution wants assessment to achieve and how it can serve the institution in fulfilling its mission. Note this is an institutional vision, not a classroom or program level vision. For an assessment program to truly have impact on the quality of education, an institutional perspective is prerequisite. This vision must be shared both across and within each division of the institution.

The full support of Administration, Finance, and University Advancement divisions is necessary to use the findings that good assessment can bear. Many institutions perceive only the division of Academic Affairs as a key player in assessment, with a few others including Student Affairs as a partial or second-tier participant.  The active participation of all components of an institution is required to achieve the shared vision of a dynamic and influential assessment program.

A shared notion of what the institution is and how all components fit together builds community. Indeed, accrediting bodies now require involvement by all university divisions as demonstration of institutional effectiveness. I can hear an early death knell tolling when I see a single individual hired to ‘take care of assessment’ for a complex institution.

High Standards
As with all quality endeavors, high standards for both personnel and practice are expected. In order to earn credibility for assessment activities, data, and the results that will be forthcoming, a scientific orientation that can withstand careful scrutiny by skeptics both within and outside the institution is required. We need to measure what matters, not what is easy to count.

Academe is populated by intellectually demanding individuals; they will require solid assessment data collection designs, reliable and valid instrumentation, and sound data analysis. The individuals engaged in these activities will need to provide such evidence, and no institution could responsibly use information from a set of procedures that does not fulfill these expectations (Sundre, 1994).
Fortunately, all educational institutions have many, many talented critical thinkers from a variety of academic disciplines to draw from. No single division or department has a monopoly on clear thinking or high standards. There is no excuse for not demanding and attaining this component over time.

Fortunately, all educational institutions have many, many talented critical thinkers from a variety of academic disciplines to draw from. No single division or department has a monopoly on clear thinking or high standards. There is no excuse for not demanding and attaining this component over time.

Commitment
If we have a shared vision and have established high standards for practice, an unswerving commitment must be made that will withstand the ebb and flow of economic tides, as well as changes in leadership at any institutional level. It’s relatively easy to make a real commitment to quality assessment when it aids achievement of institutional mission and is conducted in a manner that welcomes scrutiny and engagement.

Moreover, making such a commitment clearly communicates both within the institution and outside, that we assume responsibility for stewardship of the institution toward public goals. Unfortunately, ‘fear of commitment’ is not experienced only by those seeking meaningful romantic relationships; it is all too common in other contexts. Assessment practice is but one of those contexts. All too often, this ‘fear of commitment’ is a legitimate response to a lack of vision and quality in the assessment plan and process. These are the assessment programs that we hear faculty lament as ‘a waste of time and energy.’

Resources
Many institutions point to a lack of fiscal resources (economic downturn, budget cuts or reallocations) as a primary reason they have not developed a strong assessment program. This is a flawed argument, because the most important assessment resources are not monetary.

Vision, high standards, and commitment cost nothing, but they mean everything in the development of a quality institution of higher education. A quality assessment program can and should be a natural byproduct of these components. Time is a limited resource, and it can only be expended once. Misspending any dear resource such as time represents an opportunity cost. If we are to spend a precious resource, we must assure that it is directly linked to the acquisition of the institution’s mission and most important objectives. What could possibly be more important than ensuring that student growth and development are monitored with the intention of continuous improvement? Expending these resources is an investment worth making; it will reap rich rewards across campus domains and over time.

Structure
The development of an institutional structure is critical to being in a position to use assessment information in a timely fashion. Institutional committees at several levels are important means by which faculty and administrators can keep apprised of assessment findings and how they can inform program, curriculum, and instructional delivery decisions.

While this sounds labor intensive, it is not. For some institutions,  this would mean setting committee priorities and working smarter.

Here are a few examples: 1) eliminating or restructuring committees to pursue more meaningful missions; 2) conducting selected committee business via email, reserving meeting time for the most important issues; or 3) breaking into subcommittees to independently work on tasks—then reporting back to the committee.

Many other examples can be provided; the point is that careful structure creates time and maximizes its use for what is most important. My experience tells me that faculty and administrators truly enjoy interdisciplinary opportunities to talk about what they care most about— student growth and development. These discussions are intellectually stimulating and professionally developing, but only when the first four components of the model are evident.

Further, program assessment needs a common structure for reporting that will eliminate guesswork about what is wanted and expected as well as foster aggregation of information for broader knowledge and data use. While several excellent examples may be available elsewhere, a good example of the provision of solid structure for reporting would be the Academic Program Review Guidelines from James Madison University. This resource is available for review at the following website. This document makes clear what assessment information is expected and how it relates to other institutional data that can and should be used when evaluating programs.

Integration
If the above five components are in place, achieving an integrated assessment program is highly likely. The successes of one area will be used to promote positive change in others. A sense of community begins to develop about the identity and unique nature of the institution.  This information helps to credibly promote to many external stakeholders the vitality and professionalism of individual programs as well as the institution as a whole.

Assessment helps to build a ‘culture of evidence’ that serves to inform and strengthen many decisions and commitment to them. The benefits of strong data collection designs, and the quality of the data obtained far outweigh the costs. Remember that these ‘costs’ were once considered insurmountable. For institutions that have made careful investments over time, the benefits are multifaceted and worthwhile.

Conclusion
It can be intimidating to begin this process, but there are many successful and very diverse institutions that have provided multiple pathways toward achievement (see Banta, 2002 for examples). We have all learned from the experiences of others. I encourage you to continue your quest. If we support one another, we will make progress on the pathway. We will also be able to provide a meaningful answer to the question, “Are we there?”

Written by: Donna L. Sundre, Emeritus Professor of Graduate Psychology & sundre_fullresEmeritus Executive Director, Center for Assessment and Research Studies, James Madison University

James Madison University at the 2017 LiveText Assessment Conference!

WorkshopDeveloping an Assessment Culture: Strategic Approaches to Faculty Development in Assessment

Presented by: Dr. Donna Sundre, Emeritus Executive Director, Center for Assessment and Research Studies (CARS); Dr. Keston Fulcher, Executive Director of Assessment, James Madison University

Dr. Sundre’s Concurrent Session:
Assessment as Scholarship: A Strategy to Entice Faculty

Dr. Fulcher’s Concurrent Session:
Evolving from Assessment to Improvement

To register for the LiveText Assessment Conference or learn more, visit www.livetextconference.com.

What’s all the Buzz? If you’ve attended before or have followed the buzz on Twitter, then you know the value of our Conference. As in years past, we’re busy building a powerhouse lineup of speakers and sessions that you just can’t find at other conferences. Our sessions will inspire and challenge you, and ultimately send you back to campus with new ideas and a renewed energy to take your student learning assessment initiatives up a notch! Click below to hear a few thoughts on the value of the Assessment Conference from our past attendees!

Comments Off on Join us on a Journey…via Assessment…and JMU | Category Blog | Tags:

The Value of an Assessment Conference

March 13, 2017

LTAC 2017 Banner FinalIn anticipation of last year’s LiveText Annual Assessment Conference, I shared a bit of history regarding my long-standing relationship with LiveText, my high regard for their technology, their amazing customer service, and their commendable commitment to the education profession. That commitment is evident in their sponsorship of multiple national, regional, and state conferences throughout the year and is highlighted by their Annual Assessment Conference held each year in July. This year, I am eagerly anticipating LiveText’s 16th Annual Assessment Conference scheduled in Chicago July 10-12.

Having attended all 15 previous LiveText Annual Assessment Conferences (the first was held in 2002), I can’t begin to count the number of incredibly informative sessions I have attended during the history of this conference. Each year seems to further raise the bar on excellence in assessment conferences, which attracts some of the most highly regarded leaders and researchers in education and assessment as featured speakers. Concurrent sessions offer opportunities that meet the varied needs of all attendees and serve as a model in professional collaboration. Attendees do not have to be LiveText users to gain valuable insight on best practices in assessment—a topic that is increasingly important for all educational professionals.

Attendees that are LiveText users will appreciate the dedicated training sessions, interactive work rooms, workshops, and a variety of concurrent sessions all designed to help them enhance their assessment practices, hone their LiveText skills, and learn how to expand their use of the wide array of LiveText tools available. LiveText will also update attendees on the latest technology enhancements as well as planned improvements still in development. Throughout the conference, attendees have ample opportunity to provide user (and potential user) feedback to LiveText to help inform ongoing product development.

I have consistently found this conference to be the most relevant and valuable professional development opportunity available, both in terms of the many and varied formal sessions and in terms of the incredible collaboration opportunities that have always been a hallmark of this event. Each year, I have left the conference with new knowledge and skills that I could put to immediate use on the job.  That said, attendees can also always look forward to a couple of very special evening events that are entertaining while providing further opportunities for collegiality and collaboration. Simply stated, the annual LiveText Assessment Conference is a not-to-be-missed event for anyone who wants to keep pace with the rapidly evolving arena of assessment in higher education, explore or enhance their proficiency in LiveText exceptional array of technology tools, and expand their collaborative network.

I am truly looking forward to my 16th consecutive year of benefiting from this amazing event. Won’t you join me?

Visit www.livetextconference.com to learn more and register!

 Dr. Lance Tomei, President & CEO, LT Consulting LLC
(retired) Director of Assessment, Accreditation & Data Management, University of Central Florida

P.S. See some of these highlights from last year’s event!

Comments Off on The Value of an Assessment Conference | Category Blog | Tags: ,,

LTAC17 Session Spotlight!

March 6, 2017

LTAC 2017 Banner Final

Session Spotlight: Meet Our LTAC Speakers

LiveText is gearing up for its most insightful Summer Conference ever! We have a powerhouse lineup of assessment experts and practitioners focusing on relevant topics to help you become more effective in your current role. These include: assessment and planning, e-Portfolios, data collection, and closing the loop activities.

We invite you to meet two of our featured speakers this week. Both have served as Executive Director of the Center for Assessment and Research Studies (CARS) at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. CARS is the largest higher education assessment center in the United States. The University and the Center have been the recipients of many national assessment awards.

Interested in attending LiveText’s Conference this summer? Visit our Assessment Conference website for more information. 


Concurrent Session:

Evolving From Assessment To Improvement

Dr. Keston Fulcher
Executive Director, Center for Assessment & Research Studies
James Madison
University

Use of Results and Improvement are common terms among assessment practition-ers. Unfortunately, most institutions struggle to connect assessment with learning improvement. This concurrent session is designed to clarify what improve-ment means and how to achieve it. Participants will distinguish between change and improve-ment, identify steps in the improvement model, and describe strategies to overcome obstacles. This session is based on James Madison University’s effort to transform from an assessment institution to a learning improvement institution, a process recognized by a 2015 national CHEA Award for Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes.

Workshop
(Pre-registration Required):

Developing An Assessment Culture: Strategic Approaches To Faculty Development In Assessment

Combined Session

Dr. Keston Fulcher and
Dr. Donna Sundre

Assessment practice provides evidence of student learning outcomes, a vital component of all regional accreditors. Through quality assessment, academic programs can trust their results and make informed pro-gram changes. Developing a culture of assessment is difficult yet possible through strategic faculty develop-ment initiatives. In this session, the presenters will describe a model for developing faculty expertise in assessment. By knowing where faculty members are in their understanding and practices of assessment, we can more strategically assist them and hence further build campus assessment culture. In addition to providing effec-tive development strategies, presenters will ask attendees to discuss strategies and challenges at their institutions.

Concurrent Session:

Calling All Scholars: Winning With Assessment

Dr. Donna Sundre
Emeritus Executive Director, Center for Assessment & Research Studies
James Madison University

The notion of assessment as scholarship is hardly a new one; however, we have not sufficiently mined the many opportunities afforded by quality assessment practice to produce scholarly research. This session will define the prerequisites for the conduct of scholarly assessment as well as identify several rich prospects that span: content areas, methodologies, and stakeholders to expand our research potential. Participants will be invited to explore and share barriers and opportunities for scholarship experienced at their home institutions during the session.


Read more and register by visiting our Assessment Conference   website.

 

To register for the LiveText Assessment Conference or learn more, visit www.livetextconference.com.

What’s all the Buzz? If you’ve attended before or have followed the buzz on Twitter, then you know the value of our Conference. As in years past, we’re busy building a powerhouse lineup of speakers and sessions that you just can’t find at other conferences. Our sessions will inspire and challenge you, and ultimately send you back to campus with new ideas and a renewed energy to take your student learning assessment initiatives up a notch! Click below to hear a few thoughts on the value of the Assessment Conference from our past attendees!

Comments Off on LTAC17 Session Spotlight! | Category Blog | Tags: ,,,

Join us on a Journey…via Assessment…and JMU

March 2, 2017

LTAC 2017 Banner Final

Join our Journey this July!

In today’s Speaker Spotlight…James Madison University!

Assessment seems to be everywhere. Over the last ten years, many more associations, conferences, funding agencies, presentations, journals, articles, and books have paid increasing attention to assessment and assessment related issues. Most of us know that interest in assessment has been around for as long as teachers have been interested in knowing if and how much their students were learning. Every institution with a mission that includes student preparation will be able to provide multiple examples of good assessment, and most of these will emanate from the classroom level.

However, fueled by stakeholders within and outside the institution, assessment has become more formalized. Institution-wide assessment programs and activities are now widespread as recent surveys of institutions of higher education indicate. Assessment work is prevalent, yet use of assessment information for program improvement and study of the impact of assessment is very limited (Peterson & Vaughan, 2002).

What is it that renders some institutional assessment programs dynamic, useful and constructive, while others seem to gather data endlessly without use or purpose?

Drawing from my experiences working for well over a decade as an assessment practitioner at an institution that I believe models excellence, I can hazard some pretty good guesses. Hopefully, my model will generate discussion.

Let me begin with two caveats. First, and in all honesty, my presence (or someone like me) as an assessment practitioner is not the missing ingredient; I have met many very talented and competent assessment professionals that do not enjoy the same fruits from very similar labors. In fact, I have sent out newly minted and highly talented Assessment and Measurement PhDs to institutions that express a true desire to engage in assessment, only to watch them encounter many of the obstacles and barriers I will try to describe in this paper. Second, my institution-wide model is not presented to suggest that classroom or program level assessment endeavors cannot be robust and have impact. As indicated above, many are, but their influence does not extend beyond the source. Life-giving creative energy and institutional knowledge are both lost. This essay provides a model for institution-wide assessment programs that are sustainable and have documented success.

My ideal model for the development of institution-wide assessment would look something like Figure 1 where six sequential components are listed. Each component leads logically to the next, and, as with many developmental models, no component can be skipped or assumed. Each component will be described. Table 1 follows and provides sample negative and positive diagnostic indicators to foster additional conversations. I’m sure many participants will be able to contribute additional indicators. Click to see table of Table 1 for a model of institution wide assessment.

Vision
The model begins with a vision of what the institution wants assessment to achieve and how it can serve the institution in fulfilling its mission. Note this is an institutional vision, not a classroom or program level vision. For an assessment program to truly have impact on the quality of education, an institutional perspective is prerequisite. This vision must be shared both across and within each division of the institution.

The full support of Administration, Finance, and University Advancement divisions is necessary to use the findings that good assessment can bear. Many institutions perceive only the division of Academic Affairs as a key player in assessment, with a few others including Student Affairs as a partial or second-tier participant.  The active participation of all components of an institution is required to achieve the shared vision of a dynamic and influential assessment program.

A shared notion of what the institution is and how all components fit together builds community. Indeed, accrediting bodies now require involvement by all university divisions as demonstration of institutional effectiveness. I can hear an early death knell tolling when I see a single individual hired to ‘take care of assessment’ for a complex institution.

High Standards
As with all quality endeavors, high standards for both personnel and practice are expected. In order to earn credibility for assessment activities, data, and the results that will be forthcoming, a scientific orientation that can withstand careful scrutiny by skeptics both within and outside the institution is required. We need to measure what matters, not what is easy to count.

Academe is populated by intellectually demanding individuals; they will require solid assessment data collection designs, reliable and valid instrumentation, and sound data analysis. The individuals engaged in these activities will need to provide such evidence, and no institution could responsibly use information from a set of procedures that does not fulfill these expectations (Sundre, 1994).
Fortunately, all educational institutions have many, many talented critical thinkers from a variety of academic disciplines to draw from. No single division or department has a monopoly on clear thinking or high standards. There is no excuse for not demanding and attaining this component over time.

Fortunately, all educational institutions have many, many talented critical thinkers from a variety of academic disciplines to draw from. No single division or department has a monopoly on clear thinking or high standards. There is no excuse for not demanding and attaining this component over time.

Commitment
If we have a shared vision and have established high standards for practice, an unswerving commitment must be made that will withstand the ebb and flow of economic tides, as well as changes in leadership at any institutional level. It’s relatively easy to make a real commitment to quality assessment when it aids achievement of institutional mission and is conducted in a manner that welcomes scrutiny and engagement.

Moreover, making such a commitment clearly communicates both within the institution and outside, that we assume responsibility for stewardship of the institution toward public goals. Unfortunately, ‘fear of commitment’ is not experienced only by those seeking meaningful romantic relationships; it is all too common in other contexts. Assessment practice is but one of those contexts. All too often, this ‘fear of commitment’ is a legitimate response to a lack of vision and quality in the assessment plan and process. These are the assessment programs that we hear faculty lament as ‘a waste of time and energy.’

Resources
Many institutions point to a lack of fiscal resources (economic downturn, budget cuts or reallocations) as a primary reason they have not developed a strong assessment program. This is a flawed argument, because the most important assessment resources are not monetary.

Vision, high standards, and commitment cost nothing, but they mean everything in the development of a quality institution of higher education. A quality assessment program can and should be a natural byproduct of these components. Time is a limited resource, and it can only be expended once. Misspending any dear resource such as time represents an opportunity cost. If we are to spend a precious resource, we must assure that it is directly linked to the acquisition of the institution’s mission and most important objectives. What could possibly be more important than ensuring that student growth and development are monitored with the intention of continuous improvement? Expending these resources is an investment worth making; it will reap rich rewards across campus domains and over time.

Structure
The development of an institutional structure is critical to being in a position to use assessment information in a timely fashion. Institutional committees at several levels are important means by which faculty and administrators can keep apprised of assessment findings and how they can inform program, curriculum, and instructional delivery decisions.

While this sounds labor intensive, it is not. For some institutions,  this would mean setting committee priorities and working smarter.

Here are a few examples: 1) eliminating or restructuring committees to pursue more meaningful missions; 2) conducting selected committee business via email, reserving meeting time for the most important issues; or 3) breaking into subcommittees to independently work on tasks—then reporting back to the committee.

Many other examples can be provided; the point is that careful structure creates time and maximizes its use for what is most important. My experience tells me that faculty and administrators truly enjoy interdisciplinary opportunities to talk about what they care most about— student growth and development. These discussions are intellectually stimulating and professionally developing, but only when the first four components of the model are evident.

Further, program assessment needs a common structure for reporting that will eliminate guesswork about what is wanted and expected as well as foster aggregation of information for broader knowledge and data use. While several excellent examples may be available elsewhere, a good example of the provision of solid structure for reporting would be the Academic Program Review Guidelines from James Madison University. This resource is available for review at the following website. This document makes clear what assessment information is expected and how it relates to other institutional data that can and should be used when evaluating programs.

Integration
If the above five components are in place, achieving an integrated assessment program is highly likely. The successes of one area will be used to promote positive change in others. A sense of community begins to develop about the identity and unique nature of the institution.  This information helps to credibly promote to many external stakeholders the vitality and professionalism of individual programs as well as the institution as a whole.

Assessment helps to build a ‘culture of evidence’ that serves to inform and strengthen many decisions and commitment to them. The benefits of strong data collection designs, and the quality of the data obtained far outweigh the costs. Remember that these ‘costs’ were once considered insurmountable. For institutions that have made careful investments over time, the benefits are multifaceted and worthwhile.

Conclusion
It can be intimidating to begin this process, but there are many successful and very diverse institutions that have provided multiple pathways toward achievement (see Banta, 2002 for examples). We have all learned from the experiences of others. I encourage you to continue your quest. If we support one another, we will make progress on the pathway. We will also be able to provide a meaningful answer to the question, “Are we there?”

Written by: Donna L. Sundre, Emeritus Professor of Graduate Psychology & sundre_fullresEmeritus Executive Director, Center for Assessment and Research Studies, James Madison University

 

James Madison University at the 2017 LiveText Assessment Conference!

WorkshopDeveloping an Assessment Culture: Strategic Approaches to Faculty Development in Assessment

Presented by: Dr. Donna Sundre, Emeritus Executive Director, Center for Assessment and Research Studies (CARS); Dr. Keston Fulcher, Executive Director of Assessment, James Madison University

Dr. Sundre’s Concurrent Session:
Assessment as Scholarship: A Strategy to Entice Faculty

Dr. Fulcher’s Concurrent Session:
Evolving from Assessment to Improvement

To register for the LiveText Assessment Conference or learn more, visit www.livetextconference.com.

What’s all the Buzz? If you’ve attended before or have followed the buzz on Twitter, then you know the value of our Conference. As in years past, we’re busy building a powerhouse lineup of speakers and sessions that you just can’t find at other conferences. Our sessions will inspire and challenge you, and ultimately send you back to campus with new ideas and a renewed energy to take your student learning assessment initiatives up a notch! Click below to hear a few thoughts on the value of the Assessment Conference from our past attendees!

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