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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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

Save the Date: 16th Annual Assessment Conference

February 20, 2017

LTAC 2017 Banner Final

 

Assessment. Networking. And, of course, Fun!

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

Network with an esteemed group of educators, specialists, and consultants at our yearly forum. Attendees will discuss and explore key trends in today’s higher education landscape, focused specifically on learning through assessment.

Check Out Last Year’s Conference

Join us this summer for three invigorating days of learning. Workshops, trainings, one-on-ones, concurrent and general sessions, networking events, and a world-class list of featured experts await you.

For more information, visit livetextconference.com 

Keynote Speakers
​​​​​​
Horacio Sanchez
President and CEO
Resiliency Inc.

Dr. Belle Wheelan
President
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
invisible

Dr. Peter Ewell
President Emeritus
National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS)
Last year’s buzz:

I’m so excited about implementing some of the things I’ve learned!

…rich information that I can bring back to my colleagues.

It’s great networking and a good environment for talking to people.

You can really connect to people on a different level than you can do at most conferences.

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Policy Matters: Teacher Induction Programs: Trends and Opportunities

February 13, 2017

Picture2The American Association of State Colleges and Universities published the following Policy Matters article over 10 years ago. The question is: Does participating in induction programs matter?… The answer is YES. It mattered 10 years ago, and it matters today. We need to move faster to make more significant progress in this area. Over the past couple of decades, the number of beginning teachers has ballooned and so has the number of beginners eligible for induction in any given school. These are the people educating our future leaders, so why are we not providing these people with more systematic support to succeed professionally.

State-level policy support for teacher induction programs can help teachers realize their full potential, keep them in the profession, promote greater student learning, and save money. Higher education institutions and school districts must work together to provide high-quality and well-designed induction programs.

Context

The traditional “sink-or-swim” model for beginning teachers has not worked very well. Facing challenging work conditions and insufficient support, nearly half of new teachers leave the classroom within the first five years. Among those who stay, it can take years to develop the skills they need to be most effective in the classroom. These factors have a negative impact on student learning, particularly in poor and lowperforming schools where new teachers are often assigned. The financial cost of teacher turnover adds to the problem, draining resources from already tight budgets.

In order to remedy these problems, there has been a rapid growth of teacher mentoring and induction programs in recent decades: more than 80 percent of new teachers participate in some kind of program, up from 40 percent in 1990-91. “Mentoring” refers to one-on-one assistance and support given by an experienced professional to a novice. “Induction” State-level policy support for teacher induction programs can help teachers realize their full potential, keep them in the profession, promote greater student learning, and save money. Higher education institutions and school districts must work together to provide high-quality and well-designed induction programs. refers to a more comprehensive program. The Alliance for Excellent Education identifies the components of comprehensive induction as high-quality mentoring, common planning time and collaboration, ongoing professional development, participation in an external network of teachers, and standards-based evaluation.

Though states have increasingly been involved in mandating and funding induction programs, there is by no means consistency across districts and states, nor adequate services for all novice teachers. Far too often, what have been called “induction” programs have been limited to one-on-one mentoring designed to help teachers “survive” their first year. There has been a lack of ongoing support, and mentors may be under-trained and over-extended. Funding is often inadequate and unstable.

If teachers are to become the skilled professionals they need to be and if they are to stay in the field, stakeholders need to take coordinated action to expand and improve induction programs and to make them more universally available.

Observations

During the past two decades, new thinking about induction has emerged nationwide and there are several promising comprehensive induction models.

Leading the field is the New Teacher Center (NTC) at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The central element of the NTC Induction Model is one-on-one mentoring by a carefully selected and highly-trained mentor. Additional components include participation by all first- and second-year teachers, a network of support for both new teachers and mentors, mentors being released from teaching duties to assist new teachers, formative assessment, linkages to pre-service education, program evaluation, and other elements. This model promotes the expectation that teaching is collegial and that learning is a lifelong process.

The Educational Testing Service has developed the Pathwise Framework Induction Program, a comprehensive mentoring and support program for beginning teachers. This program provides training and support for mentors and structured tasks through which beginning teachers, with the assistance of a mentor, can develop and hone their skills. An online component, including discussion boards, courses, mentor refresher, and resource pages, enhances communication.

The Teachers for a New Era Project of the Carnegie Corporation of New York is attempting to strengthen K-12 teaching by developing state-of-the-art programs at schools of education. One guiding principle is the establishment of teaching as a clinical profession. Exemplary teacher education programs will consider the first two years of teaching as a residency period requiring mentorship and supervision. During this induction period, faculty from the higher education institution will confer with, observe, and provide guidance to the new teacher to improve practice.

There is growing evidence of the positive impact of induction programs on teacher retention, costs, teacher quality, and student learning.

Evidence from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Schools and Staffing Survey suggests that participation in comprehensive induction programs can cut attrition in half. Many smaller studies have corroborated the finding that participation in mentoring and induction programs has a positive impact on teacher retention, though the size of the impact varies by study.

There also is evidence that induction programs save money for school districts. It has been estimated that for every $1.00 invested in induction, there is an estimated payoff of nearly $1.50.

An evaluation study in California in the early 1990s showed that teachers participating in induction programs, compared to other new teachers, used more complex and challenging instructional materials, were more successful in motivating students and setting high expectations for students with diverse backgrounds, and made greater use of state curriculum frameworks. Teacher attrition was reduced by two thirds, and the programs were especially successful in supporting minority teachers. This work laid the foundation for development of subsequent induction programs.

Investigating the impact of induction programs on student learning is a growing area. Research by the Educational Testing Service has found some impact of these programs on student achievement. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Services began a five-year evaluation study that will examine the effects on student achievement of two programs, the NTC Induction Model and ETS Pathwise. More research is needed to sort out what aspects of induction most affect teacher quality and retention, which, in turn, affect student learning and district costs.

Though many states require teacher induction, current state policy leaves much to be desired.

Recent studies have found that 30 or more states have some form of mandated mentoring program. Merely requiring this mentoring, however, does not assure that programs are comprehensive and effective, or that funding is secure.

Education Week reports that only 16 states require and finance mentoring for all new teachers. Only five states provide a minimum of two or more years of state-financed mentoring, down from eight in 2003. More in-depth data collected by Education Week in 2003 indicate that nine states specified a minimum amount of time for mentors and new teachers to meet; eight required mentors and teachers to be matched by school, subject, and/or grade; nine required mentors to be compensated for their work; and seven required release time for mentors.

Some states have made strides toward developing comprehensive induction programs, but limited and uncertain state funds challenge this progress.

Two years ago, a partnership between the University of Alaska and the Alaska Department of Education began the Statewide Mentor Project that was based on the NTC model. Data have supported the effectiveness of the program in increasing teacher retention and the legislature approved funding for a state-wide program.

California’s New Teacher Project funded and evaluated several induction models in the late 1980s. The project’s success led to legislation that provides for Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment programs throughout the state.

New Jersey has been involved in mentoring programs for two decades, but funding has been uneven. Currently all districts are required to have a Mentoring for Quality Induction plan in place, but they vary widely from district to district.

Legislation enacted in Michigan more than a decade ago mandated the New Teacher Induction/ Teacher Mentoring Program requiring three years of mentoring. The state Department of Education has developed guidelines and tools for districts as well as program standards. There is currently an effort underway to foster a network of support among teacher preparation institutions.

Virginia mandates mentoring for all beginning teachers and funds about half the costs for this program. The state Department of Education developed guidelines for effectiveness, and with federal funding, supports 20 pilot induction programs across the state.

In Georgia, higher education institutions have been involved in developing resources for new teacher support. Albany State University, the University of Georgia, and Valdosta State University founded the Georgia Systemic Teacher Education Program in 2000 which has a BRIDGE (Building Resources: Induction and Development of Georgia Educators) component. This is a peer-reviewed, interactive online resource and mentoring site for teachers.

Other notable state programs include Connecticut’s Beginning Educator Support and Training and Louisiana’s Teacher Assistance and Assessment Program.

There is evidence from several states that competition for funding has led to reduced state support for induction programs. Some states depend on foundation funding or the U.S. Department of Education Title II teacher quality grants. Without a steady source of funding, these programs remain in precarious situations.

Conclusion

As states increasingly hold their teacher preparation programs accountable for the success of new teachers, higher education institutions need to work with school districts to ensure that induction is high quality and well-designed. They need to work toward greater alignment between what is taught in schools of education and what occurs in the classroom. They need to evaluate programs to document their effectiveness and ensure their quality.

Long-term policy support for teacher induction programs and adequate funding at the state level can help teachers realize their full potential, keep them in the profession, promote greater student learning, and save money. Mentoring and induction can bridge the gap between pre-service education and the classroom, and higher education institutions must be an important part of this picture.

Original Source Article

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Is it Time to Re-assess your Assessment System?

February 6, 2017

Does your assessment technology do this?

The complexities of delivering education is increasing. From traditional brick and mortar and distance education, to competency-based education, prior-learning, micro credentialing, badging, and co-curricular assessment, to ERG initiatives, LiveText understands that telling your institution’s story goes beyond assessment for compliance.

With nearly 20 years of experience, LiveText has purposefully designed its solutions so that you can better create, engage, track, and measure all types of academic as well as non-academic learning experiences. From traditional academic SLO assessment to student life and community engagement, LiveText’s highly configurable platform allows you to look at learning holistically in real time and make real changes to impact at-risk students. If you can demonstrate doing this, then you can meet compliance needs too.

So we challenge you to take a look at your current assessment system…If you can’t do all of the following with your technology, it might be high time to reassess your assessment system!

Can you:

  1. Organize learners flexibly by creating assessments outside the confines of traditional courses
  2. Offer instructors powerful template design tools to create interactive and customizable assignments
  3. Connect outcomes to any learning activities or assessment measures within an activity
  4. Support your institution’s philosophy for assessment and use existing processes because your assessment technology is adaptable and includes multiple assessment workflows, such as peer, coordinated and observational assessments within the same group of learners
  5. Aggregate evidence from rubrics, tests, and quizzes into a single report to show learners who are/are not meeting particular learning outcomes
  6. Provide your learners with the ability to design Showcases that can be curated on the fly from an active Timeline, which shows in real time a learner’s past work, current work, and plans for the future
  7. Simplify and reduce the number of clicks for your faculty and students so that they can access your assessment system with the same login they use for other campus systems

So why is via proving to be the preferred assessment system among faculty?

LiveText is purposefully designed to allow faculty to capture, measure, and report learning experiences, no matter where they occur. Did you know that via™…

Significantly reduces faculty workload.
Faculty assesses and scores student work in a number of ways, without ever having to leave their learning management systems – eliminating any double work.

Allows faculty to build assessments around their classroom work.
Faculty creates interactive, customizable assessments that enhance student engagement.

Provides faculty quick access to assessment reports to analyze course and teaching effectiveness. Reliable and timely access to assessment data informs faculty about whether the changes they implemented to improve student learning are working.

Supports faculty development for professional growth and tenure.
Faculty can easily showcase their own professional accomplishments, development goals, and assessments.

If you’re still only able to align learning outcomes and standards to rubrics, contact us and we’ll show you how to take your use of assessment technology to a whole new level by capturing evidence of learning at every level. Register to join our live March 9 or March 21 webinars where you can see via live and ask us questions.

Introducing Via from LiveTextedu on Vimeo.

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“I have no more goals…Cheers Everyone!”

January 23, 2017

15871464_750198475132438_7847249256729094738_nI just spent 4 months planning a huge surprise birthday party for my mother. She turned 60, so it was kind of a big deal. For these 4 months, 40 of her closest family and friends kept this big secret from her.

Picture this: It’s the night of the party. She walks into the restaurant for what she thinks is a casual dinner date. We yell surprise, start singing Happy Birthday, present her with her favorite red velvet cake, and queue the waterworks! Taken aback, she musters the following words as tears trickle down her cheeks…”Oh my, thank you, thank you, thank you, I have NO more goals!”

Laughter erupts. It was funny…but also kind of sad, I thought. I was still thinking about it days after. So I asked her about it. “When you said you had NO more goals, what did you mean?”  She said the following in only a way my mother, known in social circles as Sue Magoo, could get away with: “Well, I don’t really recall saying that. However, if I had, I know that what I would have meant was that I’m 60 now. I have everything I need. I have no more goals.”

This got me thinking…I actually can’t wait until I get to the point in which I have no more goals! Ironically, to reach this goal, I must set some goals.

No matter what you’re doing, if you want to succeed, you need to set goals. Without goals, you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction, but it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding.

To accomplish your goals, you need to know how to set them. You can’t simply say, “I want” and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve and ends with a lot of hard work. In between, there are some very well defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal. Knowing these steps will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish.

Here are our five golden rules of goal setting:

  1. Set Goals that Motivate You

When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you. This means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are slim. Motivation is key to achieving goals.

Set goals that relate to the high priorities in your life. Without this type of focus, you can end up with far too many goals, leaving you too little time to devote to each one. Goal achievement requires commitment, so to maximize the likelihood of success, you need to feel a sense of urgency and have an “I must do this” attitude. When you don’t have this, you risk putting off what you need to do to make the goal a reality. This leaves you feeling disappointed and frustrated with yourself, both of which are de-motivating. And you can end up in a very destructive “I can’t do anything or be successful at anything” frame of mind.

Tip: To make sure your goal is motivating, write down why it’s valuable and important to you. Ask yourself, “If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?” You can use this motivating value statement to help you if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to actually make the goal happen.

  1. Set SMART Goals

You have probably heard of SMART goals Add to My Personal Learning Plan already. But do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART. There are many variations of what SMART stands for, but the essence is this – goals should be:

  • Specific.
  • Measurable.
  • Attainable.
  • Relevant.
  • Time Bound.
  • Set Specific Goals

Your goal must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they don’t provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up.

Set Measurable Goals

Include precise amounts, dates, and so on in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. Without a way to measure your success, you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you have achieved something.

Set Attainable Goals

Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demoralize yourself and erode your confidence.

However, resist the urge to set goals that are too easy. Accomplishing a goal that you didn’t have to work hard for can be anticlimactic at best, and can also make you fear setting future goals that carry a risk of non-achievement. By setting realistic yet challenging goals, you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to raise the bar and they bring the greatest personal satisfaction.

Set Relevant Goals

Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. By keeping goals aligned with this, you’ll develop the focus you need to get ahead and do what you want. Set widely scattered and inconsistent goals, and you’ll fritter your time away.

Set Time-Bound Goals

Your goals must have a deadline. Again, this means that you know when you can celebrate success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much quicker.

  1. Set Goals in Writing

The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. You have no excuse for forgetting about it. As you write, use the word “will” instead of “would like to” or “might.” For example, “I will reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year,” not “I would like to reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year.” The first goal statement has power and you can “see” yourself reducing expenses, the second lacks passion and gives you an excuse if you get sidetracked.

  1. Make an Action Plan

This step is often missed in the process of goal setting. You get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you’ll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. This is especially important if your goal is big and demanding or long-term.

  1. Stick With It!

Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity, not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.

Tip: Goal setting is much more than simply saying you want something to happen. Unless you clearly define exactly what you want and understand why you want it the first place, your odds of success are considerably reduced. By following these Five Golden Rules of Goal Setting you can set goals with confidence and enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing you achieved what you set out to do.

So this is what I am doing…In honor of my 60-year old mother, I use the SMART strategy to map out my end goal of having NO more goals!

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#ChoosetoLearn with LiveText’s via Webinar!

January 16, 2017

Webinar-ScheduleIntroduction to LiveText’s via™ Assessment System

 #ChoosetoLearn

February 2 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm CT

Register Now

Whether it’s fulfilling institutional assessment needs or student e-Portfolio development, LiveText’s new assessment solution, via™, is helping institutions like Pepperdine University and Point Loma Nazarene University instill a professional voice in students and providing them with a greater sense of ownership over their learning.

When you join this webinar, you will see how via can help you:

  • Create assessments outside the confines of traditional courses
  • Align outcomes to any learning activities or assessment measures
  • Aggregate evidence from rubrics, test, and quizzes into a single report
  • Curate e-Portfolios on the fly using an innovative Timeline

Register Now