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Assessment Institute

Conference at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

- Mimi Berry, Director of the Patricia Carter Early Learning Center

In October, Megan Papponetti (Counseling Services) and I took on the task of attending the 2011 Assessment Institute in Indianapolis as representatives of the Divisional Assessment Team, otherwise known as DAT. The conference is the nation’s oldest and largest event focused exclusively on outcomes assessment in higher education. Administrators, faculty and student affairs professionals gathered at this conference to discuss techniques and approaches across outcomes assessment areas. We heard recurring themes that may serve as a marker for some of the noteworthy issues and considerations in higher education outcomes assessment.

Emerging themes from the seminars we attended:

  • Academic and student development divisions need to work collaboratively to review the college or university’s "hallmarks." These hallmarks should be reflected consistently throughout the academic and non-academic departments. The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) references the importance of hallmarks, which may be helpful when implementing assessment on our campus.  For more information, click here.
  • Emphasis placed on providing and assessing experiential learning for students.
  • Recognizing that the goal of a college education is changing due to current economic challenges. Today’s students (and parents) are interested in the practicality of college- how college can affect their viability in the job market- and in order to meet students’ changing needs, colleges across the country need to take a closer look at where students are coming from, and where they want to go.
  • Many first generation students are attending college to acquire knowledge to secure future employment, and campuses need to focus on getting these first generation students to "buy-in" to the whole college experience, including critical thinking, inquiry, socio-emotional development, etc.

It was certainly a rich experience for both of us to attend the conference. We appreciated hearing the collective voice of higher education assessment practitioners and felt validated by the assessment-driven work currently taking place in our Division.


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