Conversations on Assessment: Fall 2015 Highlights from Across Campus
In assessment, the main idea is to articulate what outcomes are to be achieved, acknowledge what practices are already in place, and investigate what improvements can be made. Assessment supports informed, evidence-based decision-making around program improvement. UT Austin submits documentation of this evidence-based decision-making and continuous program improvement (in the form of our assessment reports) to our institutional accreditation body — The Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Assessment is integrally tied to program and curricular development. For example, a discussion on innovative methods of instruction or practice can inspire program growth and lead to great advances. As seen in various units across campus, sparking conversations about curriculum and/or program development uncovers some best practices in program assessment and reporting. We have shared four stories from various units below. We hope they inspire and start conversations in your own units.
Curricular and pedagogical evidence-based decision-making counts: Learning from the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies and from the McCombs School of Business
Last spring, faculty and staff worked hard to document improvements in their 2013-14 academic assessment reports for the April 1st SACSCOC Fifth Year Referral Report deadline. This fall, as academic and non-academic units work towards completing their 2014-15 assessment report by Sep 30th, a few departments and units across campus employed some successful strategies that led to unexpected, yet exciting and beneficial conversations. Read more
The culture of who does assessment matters: Learning from the School of Social Work
The culture around who does assessment, who is responsible for reporting, and who chooses to be involved in the conversation can play a major role in assessment’s utility and service to the department. The School of Social Work promotes a unique culture where the responsibility for assessment is undertaken by senior rather than junior faculty. Read more
Assessment is integral to curriculum development: Learning from the Department of Germanic Studies
Involving all faculty in the assessment conversation can result in pedagogical and curricular innovations and improvements. A recent retreat on curriculum development and assessment in the Department of Germanic Studies resulted in lively conversations around articulating strong and true goals for student learning in the department. Read more
Strong assessment and accountability structures matter: Learning from Student Affairs
The Division of Student Affairs exemplifies a sturdy arrangement of assessment information dissemination throughout each of its sub-units. There is a division-wide assessment team called SAAAC (the Student Affairs Assessment Advisory Committee) which has a representative from each unit such as the Counseling and Mental Health Center, University Unions, Rec Sports, the Dean of Students, etc. This committee meets monthly to discuss and learn about assessment. Read more