Checklists As an Academic Leadership Tool
This article first appeared in Academic Leader on July 31, 2015. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved. There are probably few tools we can use in academic leadership that seem less interesting than a checklist. We may sometimes even refer to checklists as though they were akin to sleepwalking our way through our…
Restructuring Academic Programs into Larger Divisions
Since 2013, economists and financial strategists have insisted that higher education must reduce its costs. In fact, the Moody’s perception of mounting fiscal pressure on all key university revenue sources led to the 2013 downgrade of the credit rating for the entire sector (Moody’s, 2013). But even before the 2008-09 economic crash, the Berea College administration realized that its budget was not fully sustainable in the long term. In 2008, almost 80 percent of Berea’s budget came from its endowment, which by March 2009 dropped from more than $1 billion to less than $700 million.
How to Lead Assessment in Your Unit
Being in charge of assessment within one’s unit involves more than measuring student learning outcomes. It’s about leading cultural change, a process that is best undertaken in collaboration with those who know the discipline, program, and students best—the faculty and staff.
In an interview with Academic Leader, Linda Neavel Dickens, director of institutional accreditation and program assessment at The University of Texas at Austin, offered advice on how to lead this collaborative process.
Why All Evaluations Are Not Alike
Imagine that one day you come into the office and a fellow administrator asks you to review the following language from the draft of an evaluation that he or she is writing about a faculty member.
Can a Capstone Course Try to Accomplish Too Much?
Kristi Upson-Saia thinks it can, and she has data from one field that supports her belief. When her religious studies department (at Occidental College) decided to reassess its capstone course, Upson-Saia looked for relevant publications in her field. Finding few, she began collecting data from other religious studies departments. She asked those departments to explain their course objectives and share capstone materials such as guidelines, checklists, websites, and syllabi. Her analysis of religious study capstones includes data from 29 different programs, and what she found is typical of the descriptive analysis of capstones completed in several other fields. The courses have different objectives, they address content in different ways, and students complete a variety of assignments, although most involve the application of research skills used in the field.
How to Avoid Common Assessment-Reporting Pitfalls
Little things can make or break a large project, so it would be a shame if ill-prepared reports undid all the hard work you put into an assessment effort. John H. Schuh, author of Assessment Methods for Student Affairs, offers tips for getting your assessment results into the right hands in the right way.
Promoting an Innovative Culture within a Department
Part of being a transformational leader is giving credit for effort and success rather than punishment. Offering faculty credit creates a sense of ownership, which can be a strong motivator.
The Case of the Unevaluated Online Courses*
The story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
This is the city. I work here. I’m a faculty developer. My name is Thursday, Joe Thursday.
Explore this case and learn how to effectively evaluate online courses.
Putting Assessment in Its Place
What can you do with four minutes?
You can close the report and check the clock, update your to-do list, sort through your mail, or respond to a minor e-mail query. There are many important tasks you can do in four minutes. And if you don’t do them now, you’ll just have to find another four minutes later. Of course, none of this matters if you have plenty of time and too little to do, but most institutions have finite resources and must be deliberate in how they use them. Program assessment presents a special challenge to resource allocation, requiring a similarly deliberate approach.
Seven Important Factors in Program Assessment
“No one should be surprised to learn that faculty (in general) have not enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to see if their students measure up to those at other universities or to the expectations of their professors,” writes Diane Halpern in a “personalized review” of assessment programs in general and in her field of psychology. (p. 358) Faculty who believed assessment was another of those “trendy things” destined to pass once something else new came along have been proven wrong. The assessment movement is now close to 30 years old and still very much a part of the higher education scene. Institutions found it hard to ignore once it started being a condition for receiving federal funds and a review criteria used by the national accrediting associations and various professional program reviewing agencies.
Reviewing and updating some of her previous writings, Halpern suggests the list of factors important in program assessment have not changed but merit regular review. Here’s a summary of those seven factors drawn from a more detailed discussion of them that appears in the article referenced below: