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NILOA 2018 Year-End Note

Dear Colleagues:

As this year draws to a close, we thank you sincerely for your continued interest in and support of NILOA’s efforts to enhance and expand promising practices in student learning outcomes assessment. We’d also like to take this opportunity to review some of our activities from this past year.

The Fall of 2018 marked the ten-year anniversary of NILOA. To commemorate the occasion, George Kuh and Stan Ikenberry co-authored a special report “NILOA at Ten: A Retrospective” to not only look back at our founding and all of the work NILOA has accomplished over the years, but also to look ahead toward the work that remains to be done. There are still questions of the value and worth of higher education, of the learning that students achieve in their time with us, and how we go about documenting and using evidence of that learning to improve our practices and help all students succeed. We hope that through the lessons, initiatives, and innovations of the past ten years, that we – both us at NILOA but more broadly the field of assessment – are well positioned to meet these challenges.

The year kicked off on a high note with the release of our report “Assessment that Matters: Trending toward Practices that Document Authentic Student Learning” which highlights findings from NILOA’s third national survey of chief academic officers. The report provides a broad view of the assessment landscape in terms of current approaches and practices related to assessing student learning. We extend our gratitude to those who responded to the survey last year.

In addition, we continued the equity conversation that began two years ago by adding six guest responses to NILOA’s 29th Occasional Paper discussing equity and assessment. Thanks to all who shared their informative commentary thus far. We encourage those who are interested in this work to consider participating in the dialogue and add their perspective. Note, too, we recently released a Call for Case Study Participants: Equity in Assessment co-sponsored by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS). If your institution is engaged in equitable assessment efforts and you are interested in sharing your processes and practices, then please complete an application by January 15, 2019.

This year also saw the founding of the HBCU Collaboration for Excellence in Educational Quality Assurance (CEEQA) and an accompanying report “Assessment, Accountability, and Student Learning Outcomes at Historically Black Colleges and Universities” authored by Dr. Verna F. Orr. CEEQA is the first collaborative of its kind seeking to address accountability measures while being true to HBCU missions and culturally relevant assessment approaches. Please contact us if you would like more information on the innovative work of CEEQA.  

Overall, we released six special reports – including an update to our assessment charrette toolkit, a dive into how assignments can help students foster habits of reflection, and a mapping toolkit –, five Occasional Papers, eight new Assessment in Practice pieces highlighting promising assessment efforts, seven thought provoking Viewpoints, nine new examples of the Transparency Framework used in the field, and a dozen additional Featured Websites. Adding to this list are the regular contributions NILOA makes to Assessment Update under the NILOA Perspectives column. In addition, we have continued to curate a list of Assessment Related Technologies, a rolling calendar featuring upcoming assessment conferences and programs, and a myriad of assessment resources in our Resource Library. Furthermore, NILOA staff and senior scholars also presented at over 60 higher education conferences, meetings, institutional events, webinars, and workshops; including the NILOA track at the 2018 Assessment Institute and our co-sponsorship of the 2018 Teaching and Learning National Institute (TLNI).

NILOA Coaches completed over 25 campus visits at a wide array of institutions to help with their assessment implementation opportunities and challenges. Thank you to all of our Coaches for another year of excellent work and support. If your institution is interested in hosting a Coach for a no-cost one-day visit in the Fall of 2019, then please consider reviewing the application materials and submitting a request.

We are ending the year on a high note as well. The 2019 Excellence in Assessment (EIA) designation application packet is now available for institutions interested in being selected for the next class of designees. This past year five more institutions earned this prestigious recognition: Bowie State University, Harper College, Mississippi State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Congratulations to these exemplars in student learning outcomes assessment! There are now twenty EIA schools, and we encourage you to strive toward joining this accomplished group. 

Finally, 2018 also brought new memories, milestones, and moments of reflection for the NILOA team. We lost a tireless champion and friend last May with the passing of Clifford Adelman, and celebrated his many contributions by reflecting on the impact of his work on the field of assessment and higher education in general.

In the early summer, NILOA welcomed Erick Montenegro as the new NILOA Communications Coordinator and Research Analyst. In the fall, we congratulated Dr. Verna F. Orr on the completion of her Ph.D.  Fortunately, for NILOA and the field, Verna is staying on with NILOA as a Post Doc in 2019.

As we conclude our tenth year, we again thank you for continuing commitment to advancing the student learning outcomes assessment agenda in postsecondary education. NILOA remains steadfastly committed to sharing and helping to develop usable resources that engage diverse groups in reflective, collective dialogue. We wish you a joyous holiday season, and a happy, healthy, and productive 2019!

–Natasha Jankowski and George Kuh for the entire NILOA Team