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NILOA May 2017 Newsletter

This month’s NILOA Newsletter begins by introducing a series of Responses in our Conversation on Equity in Assessment from leading scholars in higher education. Specifically, we feature a video response from Dr. Eboni Zamani-Gallaher, Director of the Office for Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL), and written responses from Dr. Thomas F. Nelson Laird and Dr. Allison BrckaLorenz, Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, Melissa Wright, University at Buffalo, and Dr. Pamela Petrease Felder, University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

In addition, this newsletter features a new NILOA Report, Tuning: A Guide for Creating Discipline-Specific Frameworks to Foster Meaningful Change, by Dr. David W. Marshall, a new Viewpoint, The Neuroscience of Learning and Development: How Can Evidence Legitimize Self-Reflection?, from Dr. Marilee Bresciani Ludvik, an update on NILOA in the Field, and a Featured Website from the American Public University System. Finally, as is customary, the newsletter concludes with relevant News items and information on Upcoming Conferences and Programs.

Equity in Assessment Responses
 Video Response


After the release of our latest Occasional Paper, Equity and Assessment: Moving towards Culturally Responsive Assessment, NILOA invited leading scholars in higher education to provide a response to the paper, its relevance in the current educational climate, and insights on future directions for this work. In the first response of this series, Dr. Eboni Zamani-Gallaher, Professor of Higher Education/Community College Leadership and Director of the Office for Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, responds to the main points of the paper, discusses how assessment can become more equitable, provide insights on related initiatives from OCCRL and other organizations, and offers a critique of where this work could go.

In addition, Thomas F. Nelson Laird and Allison BrckaLorenz, Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, provide an insightful written response to the challenges and opportunities associated with equity in assessment. Melissa Wright, University at Buffalo, also provides a written response with meaningful assessment examples from her own institution, Marquette University, and Lesley University to highlight strategies for developing more equitable assessments. Finally, Dr. Pamela Petrease Felder, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, offers her response On the Importance of Culturally Responsive Assessment. NILOA welcomes and will continue to feature written responses from other prominent scholars discussing equity and assessment. Read more… 

New NILOA Report
Tuning Report cover 

Tuning: A Guide for Creating Discipline-Specific
Frameworks to Foster Meaningful Change
David W. Marshall, NILOA Senior Scholar

Tuning’s methodology functions as a collaborative endeavor that engages colleagues from multiple institutions in an effort to identify what learning they hold in common, as well as the different possible applications of that learning both within and beyond the discipline. This report draws on a variety of sources to present observations on the different ways in which states, consortia, and disciplinary associations have used Tuning, as a flexible methodology, to work towards the production of discipline-specific learning frameworks. In doing so, Dr. Marshall confers five activities that comprise the Tuning methodology, describes common best practices to follow in order to meaningfully engage in the Tuning process, and discusses ways to overcome challenges those involved in Tuning may experience. Read more…

New NILOA Viewpoint

The Neuroscience of Learning and Development:
How Can Evidence Legitimize Self-Reflection?
Marilee Bresciani Ludvik, Ph.D.

When is the last time you took time to reflect…I mean really reflect? Cognitive neuroscientists widely accept that reflection is a malleable cognitive skill. But when we build in reflective pedagogy, it is often constrained by a specific time element; as in “this reflection is due on [insert date].” Furthermore, we often advise the student that we will be evaluating the depth of the reflection with “this rubric,” which leaves me wondering whether they are simply just going to “write to fit the rubric” instead of reflecting, writing, and then using the rubric to self-assess before reflecting and writing some more. In translating neuroscience research into educational practice and assessment, I realize that not only do we have to educate students on how to reflect and provide them with authentic, messy reflection opportunities, we also have to help them adjust their neural structure of attention and emotion regulation in order to cultivate awareness of what they are learning, how they are learning it, and how what they are learning may be meaningful or not. This may even lead to providing evidence of the value of a degree. Read more…

NILOA In the Field

Through a combination of keynote speeches, plenary addresses, presentations, workshops, and meetings, the NILOA team was busy this past month. NILOA staff and senior scholars attended WSCUC’s Community of Practice for Advancing Learning Outcomes Visibility Pre-Conference Workshop, WICHE’s Academic Leadership Forum, the Gates-funded “Pathways to Adult Success (PAS)" planning meeting, the Association of Governing Board’s advisory group on shared governance, University System of Maryland’s Convening on Student Learning Outcomes, and the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting. Read more…

NILOA Updates

NILOA Featured Website

American Public University System’s Learning Outcomes Assessment website offers various assessment resources for students, faculty, and staff. The website offers Learning Outcomes Assessment (LOA) Student Process guidelines on the necessary steps to attain required outcomes, meet graduation requirements, and practice sample assessment questions. In addition, website visitors can access a comprehensive and clearly defined glossary of outcomes assessment terms, and various faculty resources. For example, curricular map and rubric samples are provided. Read more...


NILOA Provost Survey
We would like to remind you that NILOA has launched its third National Provost Survey, and would greatly appreciate your participation. The aim of the study is to gain a clearer picture of the current state of assessing student learning in the United States. The questionnaire takes about 10-15 minutes to complete.

NILOA Perspectives in Assessment Update
In the first in a series of perspectives from NILOA in Assessment Update, Dr. Natasha Jankowski, NILOA director, provides a perspective, “Pardon Me, Your Catch Phrase Is Showing”: The Importance of the Language We Use. The author argues that being attentive to language used both internally and externally can help transition assessment from a compliance process focused on meeting reporting requirements into one that focuses on improving student learning.  

Combating Initiative Fatigue: Unifying and Integrating Student Success Initiatives
Initiative fatigue is when faculty and staff experience burnout from being involved in ever changing, contrasting campus initiatives. The authors provide four best-practices and two institutional examples that can help reduce initiative fatigue. 

Seeking Better Student Outcomes? Start With Improving Instructional Quality
The author uses Rutgers University’s Newark campus as an example of how a commitment to teaching excellence can lead to improved student outcomes. This article expands on the findings from an ACE white paper, Unpacking Relationships: Instruction and Student Outcomes, written by NILOA director Natasha Jankowski.

New System to Measure 'Value' of College Education
The Association of American Colleges and Universities’ (AAC&U) Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) rubrics offer an alternative to standardized testing when it comes to measuring students’ educational performance.

Indiana's Active-Learning Mosaic Expands
Indiana University is expanding its use of its home-grown active-learning initiative called Mosaic. The university currently has approximately 50 faculty using it, and plans to add 50 each year across its various campuses. Mosaic allows faculty – regardless of discipline – to increase student engagement and change class sessions based on students’ needs.

Ready to Learn?
Faculty at Coastal Carolina University have created eLearnReady, a free online assessment that tells instructors of online programs which skills students possess at the start of the course. This can help instructors tailor their lessons to meet students at the level they are at, and gives students study tips and helpful videos on the areas on which they score the lowest.

Position Announcements:

St. Olaf College
St. Olaf College is hiring an Assistant Director of Educational Research and Assessment in the Institutional Research and Evaluation department. For more information, read the full application materials.

University of South Alabama
The University of South Alabama is hiring an Associate or Full Professor of Education Research to serve as Director of Assessment for the Department of Leadership and Teacher Education. Review of application materials is now ongoing, and will continue until the position is filled. For more information, click here.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

May 18. Meaning, Quality, and Integrity of Degrees: Exploring Approaches, Models, & Tools
Honolulu, HI. Hawai'i Pacific University.

May 30-June 2. 2017 AIR Forum
Washington D.C. Association for Institutional Research.
**Wednesday, May 31, 3:30 – 4:15 PM. Jillian Kinzie, NILOA senior scholar, Natasha Jankowski, NILOA director, and George Kuh, NILOA senior scholar and co-principal investigator, will present Why Documenting Student Learning Matters: A Policy Statement from NILOA.

**Thursday, June 1, 4:00 – 4:45 PM. Natasha Jankowski, NILOA director, and Gianina Baker, NILOA assistant director, will present Building a Narrative Via Evidence-based Storytelling.

May 31- June 3. 2017 AAC&U’s Institute on General Education and Assessment
Chicago, IL. Loyola University Chicago.

June 1. Proposals due: West Texas Assessment Conference
Lubbock, TX. Texas Tech University.

June 2. Fast Track to Success Project and Institute for Competency-Based Education
Austin, TX. Austin Community College and Texas A&M University—Commerce.

June 6-7. 2017 NEean Summer Assessment Institute
Newton, MA. Lasell College.

June 12-14. 2017 AALHE Conference
Louisville, KY. Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education.
**Tuesday, June 13, 1:45 – 2:45pm. Natasha Jankowski, NILOA director, Keston Fulcher, James Madison University, Ross Markle, ETS, and Javarro Russell, ETS, will present Considerations for Long Term Sustainability in Assessment Practices.
**Wednesday, June 14, 8:00 – 9:30am.
Natasha Jankowski, NILOA director, and David Marshall, NILOA senior scholar, will present Designing Assignments in a Learning Systems Paradigm.

** Wednesday, June 14, 11:00am – 12:00pm. Gianina Baker, NILOA assistant director, and Natasha Jankowski, NILOA director, will present Philosophies of Assessment: The Narratives of Our Work.
**Wednesday, June 14, 4:00 – 5:00pm.
David Marshall, NILOA senior scholar, Terrel Rhodes, AAC&U, Rebecca Dueben, Washington State University, Jonathan Keiser, City Colleges of Chicago, and Helen Stubbs, Gallup Inc., will partake on an AALHE panel Looking Ahead: The Future of Assessment.

June 13-16, Taskstream-Tk‌20 Interactive Art of Assessment Users Conference
Austin, TX. Taskstream.
**Wednesday, June 14, 8:30 –10:00am, George D. Kuh, NILOA senior scholar and co-principal investigator, will present the keynote, The Art of Making Assessment Consequential.

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