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NILOA September 2017 Newsletter

In this edition of our newsletter, NILOA is pleased to present a suite of Assessment in Practices focused on assessment in general education, along with a viewpoint from Jeff Grann titled, Demand interoperability to dramatically improve the educational ecosystemIn addition, we provide a report from our activities in the field during August and feature Austin Community College as NILOA’s Featured Website. Finally, please note relevant News Items, Jobs, Book and Journal announcements, and information on the Upcoming Conferences and Programs.

We also invite you to consider applying for the third annual Teaching and Learning National Institute (TLNI): Using Evidence for Improvement. TLNI brings together campus teams committed to using evidence to identify areas of the student experience to strengthen and then, drawing from known successful practices, to construct more effective approaches both in and outside the classroom. Participating teams leave with an action plan in hand. NILOA is proud to be one of the sponsors of this Institute.

Assessment in Practice
This month we are pleased to release a suite of resources on general education assessment. While we have many resources currently on our site, we are happy to announce the following Assessment in Practice pieces for September 2017. These include:  
NILOA Viewpoint
 Viewpoint Logo

Demand interoperability to dramatically improve the educational ecosystem

Jeff Grann
Academic Director of Assessment and Learning Analytics
Capella University

To most assessment folks, interoperability probably sounds like something a chief technology officer might mention toward the end of an RFP requirements meeting. Campus leaders recognize that interoperability can reduce integration expenses, but they too often fail to appreciate its potential value to educational practices. 

IMS Global has published the Competencies & Academic Standards Exchange (CASE) specification ( to support the exchange of competencies and rubrics. Read more…

NILOA In The Field

The beginning of a new semester is a busy time for the higher education community. It is no different for the NILOA team, where meeting with a variety of stakeholders and participating in important higher education conversations is the essence of our work.

August started with the Annual Teaching and Learning National Institute, held at The Evergreen State College in Washington state. We also participated in the Learning Systems Network Meeting, delivered a keynote speech at the Distance Learning Symposium, co-hosted a webinar with Taskstream titled “Assessment in a Learning Systems Paradigm” and participated in the Credential Engine Advisory Group Meeting. Read more…

NILOA Updates

NILOA Featured Website

Austin Community College Academic Outcomes Assessment website is a comprehensive guide for institutional effectiveness and educational improvement through the collection of assessment data. It offers a plethora of resources, including the Assessment Manual, which describes the assessment program at the institution. The site also offers access to a toolkit of Rubrics and TracDat, where comprehensive collection and analysis of assessment data is available for use in learning improvement. Read more...


Colleges and universities using survey data to improve student learning and success
Student engagement data helps colleges and universities make more informed decisions according to recently released examples of how National Survey of Student Engagement results have been helping schools across the country focus on student success.  

The Chronicle’s Best Ideas for Teaching, 2017
A compilation of 10 articles by The Chronicle of Higher Education describing 2017’s most innovative teaching methods regarding students’ ability to retain focus and demonstrate the required learning outcomes is the focus of the best ideas for teaching edition.  

The evolution of learning outcomes: Now comes the exciting part
Harvey Weingarten stresses the importance of learning outcomes and notices its evolution from an outdated and irrelevant part of higher education, to the much needed demonstration of skills and knowledge─a critical part of the learning process. The author puts strong emphasis on measuring learning outcomes through a variety of tools, pointing out that learning outcomes assessment is still an experiment for the higher education community.

Assessing the Intangible in Our Students
Shaw’s reflection on the importance of assessment as a verification tool proves that students graduate with the expected learning outcomes. Regardless of the ways colleges measure learning outcomes, the author makes a case to show that certain types of skills – such as 21st century skills – are not easily demonstrated.

Design Learning Outcomes to Change the World
Cathy Davidson, a professor at the City University of New York, shares her experience of incorporating learning outcomes into her classes starting with her initial gripe with using them. Included is a list of Dr. Davidson’s ten favorite learning outcomes: including some outcomes written by students.

Could Grades Be Counterproductive?
Grades represent a form of summative feedback that do little to explain to students how to improve. Giving students descriptive feedback on assignments instead of grades – as is the case in Alverno, Goddard, and Hampshire Colleges – can lead to better student learning outcomes.

What’s My Grade: Why Students Need to Understand Learning and Assessment
Students tend to focus on grades instead of their actual learning gains, which points to a lack of student understanding on the importance of learning and assessment in the classroom. To help resolve this, the author discusses more student-centered assessment approaches.

Summer 2017 issue of Intersection is Now Available!
Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education Summer 2017 issue of AALHE's quarterly publication Intersection is now available. Included in this issue are “Creating an Assessment Tool: Starting with the Why” by Gloria Shenoy, a former NILOA Research Analyst, “Data Collection for Outcomes Assessment through the Learning Management System” by Karen DiGiacomo, and “Mapping the Curriculum: A Low-tech Model for Synthesizing Assessments and Improving Learning at Multiple Levels” by Jennifer M. Harrison & Vickie William.

Connecting Credentials and Credential Engine Pave the Way – Hand In Hand
This article offers a reflection on credentialing systems as an important tool in translating higher education degrees to students, employers, and educators. Although still under development, the work shown in this article aims to create a common language to help define competencies of postsecondary education graduates.

Improving the Quality of Education
By concentrating so heavily on graduation rates, policy makers are ignoring danger signs that the amount that students are learning in college may be declining, writes Derek Bok.

Job Announcements:

Director of Academic Assessment
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville seeks a Director of Academic Assessment. This position reports to the Provost and leads the university’s academic assessment program. For more information and to apply, please see Applications are due by November 1, 2017.


Book/Journal Announcements:

New Book On Enhancing Assessment in Higher Education: Putting Psychometrics to Work
Co-published with AIR and AAC&U, Tammie Cumming and M. David Miller recently edited a volume on assessment tools and approaches. The authors provide commentary on their new book below. 

Being involved in educational measurement (psychometrics) and the assessment of student learning in higher education, we thought it would be helpful and important to bring educational measurement and higher education assessment practitioners together to produce a reference that would be timely in the evolution of best practices in higher education assessment. For the past two decades, the emphasis in assessment has been on "closing the loop." Assessment as a part of the continuous improvement process is now widely accepted and evolving. We reached out to our educational measurement colleagues and assessment practitioners to write an assessment volume that brings measurement principles to bear on assessment practices in higher education.

When faculty have confidence in the assessment measures, and view the assessment process as a credible tool to inform and improve student outcomes and curriculum, they are able to embrace the idea of assessment as a part of the continuous improvement process and not simply a process with which they must comply in order to adhere to accreditation standards.

Faculty are highly trained individuals who typically strive to excel in their field with high standards. By including reliability, validity and fairness standards within the assessment process, the assessment process/research in higher education has more "credibility." It is not sufficient to simply have an assessment process that cannot be rigorously defended. There's been much controversy regarding accreditation in the US and we believe that ensuring a sound assessment system is critical to ensuring the credibility of the use of assessments in higher education.

The Journal of Writing Analytics
Please view the first issue of the peer-reviewed journal on writing assessment.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

September 25-27, 2017. ACCSC Professional Development Conference
Reston, VA. Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
**Tuesday, September 26, 10:45 am - 12:00 pm. Natasha Jankowski, NILOA director, will present Assessing Student Learning Outcomes: Best Practices in Assessment and Accreditation.

September 27-29, 2017. 2017 CREA International Conference
Chicago, IL. Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment. 
**Friday September 29, 9:00 - 10:30 am. Erick Montenegro, NILOA research analyst, and Natasha Jankowski, NILOA director, will present Moving Towards Equity in Assessment: Cultural Responsive and Student-Centered Assessment

September 29, 2017. Registration Deadline: Making Assessment Work for Your Institution and Your Students.
Crawfordsville, IN. Center for Inquiry. 

October 4, 2017. Workshop: Designing Your Course from a Learner-Centered Perspective
Edmond, OK. University of Central Oklahoma.

October 6, 2017. Workshop: Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses.
Edmond, OK. University of Central Oklahoma.

October 10, 2017. 2017 West Texas Assessment Conference.
Lubbock, TX. Texas Tech University.

October 11-14, 2017. ISSoTL 2017 Conference.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada. International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
**Wednesday, October 11, 11:30 am - 4:30 pm. Pat Hutchings, NILOA senior scholar, will co-lead a workshop alongside Peter Felten, Elon University, Openings and Opportunities: Making a Place for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Your World.

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