Friday, March 18, 2011

Assessment's not a dirty word

How many of you moan, groan, or sigh when you hear "assessment"? For a long time, assessment was something we did when someone told us to and we did it to find out what was wrong. But guess what? Assessment can tell us what we're doing right, too! And it doesn't have to be scary, labor-intensive, or negative. Assessment means finding out how we're doing what we do and what we can do better (because, as educators, we're always striving for better, right?), and Jeffrey and Rachael will be at NACADA to show you how.

If I tweeted you, “I see you’re doing a session at #nacada11r2. Cool! What’s it about?”, how would you reply via Twitter?
Our presentation is about effective assessment of best practices. How to easily set up assessment and ask the right questions.
Why did you decide to do a presentation on this topic?

Assessment is something I’m a proponent of. Nothing in the way of assessment was done in our office for a long time, but now that we do regular assessment, we all agree that it's valuable. I know it's difficult during  our day-to-day grind to think about assessment and reflect about whether what you’re doing works the way you think it does. By giving people a easy way to do assessment, I hope we can get other NACADA members doing assessment regularly and using it positively.
Why do you think this is important for NACADA Region 2?

Assessment can be a good thing and it works best when it's done at the office or division level. It can be disheartening when campus-wide surveys don't provide detailed office-specific feedback, or if the data never never even gets passed down to specific offices. Assessment that provides data relevant to your daily work can reaffirm what you’re doing, leading to good performance reviews, and give you the support you need to go to supervisors to request new resources or pitch new ideas. We used student feedback to propose-and get-more walk-in hours in the office.
What’s the most important idea you hope attendees leave your session with?

Assessment isn’t scary and it doesn't have to take a lot of time. If you do it the right way you can use data to plan your next steps as an office, and ensure that your strategic plans match the needs of your students. At the end of this sessions, you'll have a step-by-step guide to developing valuable, usable assessments.
What are you most looking forward to about the conference?

I love conferences. They're a great place to go and get tons of relevant of info, support,  and new ideas that you can’t get any other way. I'm looking forward to collaborating and bouncing ideas around.

Session Title: Asking the Right Questions: How to Create Effective Assessments of Your Advising Practices
Day & Time: Thursday, April 7 @ 3:45
Abstract: It is necessary to assess our advising practices so that we can confirm what does work and identify what doesn’t. Unfortunately, we’re often left with too little time and not enough knowledge to execute effective assessments that measure our practices instead of just student satisfaction. We will introduce you to low-cost, web based survey tools and walk you through the steps to begin to think critically about your learning outcomes, as well as how to structure internal assessments to capture that data. We encourage you to share your assessment practices too as we all continue to develop better methods for serving our institutions and encouraging the development of our students.

Rachael Switalski is the Associate Director of Student Services in  the Office of Dean of College of Engineering at Drexel University. You can contact Racheal at
Jeffrey Birou is an academic advisor in the College of Engineering Undergraduate Advising Center. You can contact Jeffrey at

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