During each of the last two Septembers, I have shared with faculty, administration, and some professional staff how the campus rates the Assessment Resource Office and our biweekly publication, the DATAWave. To be frank, it's tough.
Outcomes Assessment is viewed by some as a hassle. I, and many others at Eastern, disagree. We feel that it is an important means of improving the teaching/learning process. The DATAWave is a vehicle for sharing our many assessment results, an alternative to preparing reports that often go unread and don't stimulate discussion. Following these results, I'll share with you how this information will be used.
In May 1997, The Assessment Resource Office (ARO) mailed DATAWave surveys to regular recipients of the DATAWave. Of the 211 DATAWave surveys distributed, 87 (41.2%) were returned to the Assessment Resource Office. (Not all respondents completed the entire survey so the total responses do not always correlate to the number of surveys returned.)
Fifty-three (61.6%) respondents were self-identified as faculty; 11 (12.8%) as administrators; 21 (24.4%) as professional staff; and 1 (1.2%) support staff. When asked how often they read the DATAWave, 17 (19.5%) responded "always"; 29 (33.3%) responded "frequently"; 11 (12.6%) responded "half the time"; 28 (32.2%) responded "occasionally"; and 2 (2.3%) responded "never."
Forty-nine (56.3%) respondents strongly agreed or agreed when asked if they found the information in the DATAWave to be useful; 26 (29.9%) were neutral; and 12 (13.8%) disagreed or strongly disagreed. When asked if information in the DATAWave is presented clearly, 59 (67.8%) respondents strongly agreed or agreed; 16 (18.4%) were neutral; and 12 (13.8%) disagreed or strongly disagreed.
One percent (1.2%) of respondents thought the DATAWave was published "too infrequently"; 53 (62.4%) thought it was published "about right"; and 31 (36.5%) respondents thought it was published "too often."
Of those surveyed, contact with the Assessment Resource Office during the last academic year varied. Ten (11.5%) responded having "no contact"; 21 (24.1%) responded "seldom"; 36 (41.4%) responded "infrequent"; 18 (20.7%) responded "frequent"; and 2 (2.3%) responded "very frequent." Respondents were then asked to rate the services of the Assessment Resource Office. Twenty (26.3%) responded that service was "excellent"; 19 (25.0%) responded "very good"; 25 (32.9%) responded "good"; 9 (11.8%) responded "fair"; and 3 (3.9%) responded "poor."
The responsiveness of the Assessment Resource Office was rated as "excellent" by 22 (29.3%) respondents; "very good" by 21 (28.0%) respondents; "good" by 20 (26.7%); "fair" by 11 (14.7%); and "poor" by 1 (1.3%) respondent. When asked to rate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the Assessment Resource Office as it pertains to assessment, the following responses were given: 2 (2.6%) responded "poor"; 7 (9.0%) responded "fair"; 17 (21.8%) responded "good"; 22 (28.2%) responded "very good"; and 30 (38.5%) responded "excellent."
The DATAWave survey asked additional questions regarding the publication and distribution of the DATAWave -
When asked if the ARO should continue publishing the DATAWave biweekly with assessment results, the following responses were given: 23 (27.1%) responded "strongly preferred"; 26 (30.6%) responded "somewhat preferred"; 17 (20.0%) responded "no opinion"; and 19 (22.4%) responded "not preferred."
When asked if the DATAWave should be published on a weekly basis, the following responses were given: 4 (4.8%) responded "somewhat preferred"; 10 (11.9%) responded "no opinion"; and 70 (83.3%) responded "not preferred."
Respondents were asked if they preferred publication of extensive reports distributed to department chairs which could then be available to them. The following responses were given: 8 (9.3%) responded "strongly preferred"; 28 (32.6%) responded "somewhat preferred"; 24 (27.9%) responded "no opinion"; and 26 (30.2%) responded "not preferred."
Respondents were offered an option of accessing more complete information through a World Wide Web page with notification to the campus community through e-mail and The Monday Memo. Sixteen (18.6%) respondents "strongly preferred" this option; 33 (38.4%) responded "somewhat preferred"; 22 (25.6%) responded "no opinion"; and 15 (17.4%) responded "not preferred."
Three (3.5%) respondents "strongly preferred" no dissemination of assessment information, while 8 (9.3%) responded "somewhat preferred"; 18 (20.9%) responded "no opinion"; and 57 (66.3%) responded "not preferred."
When asked to respond to the statement, "I prefer that the information in the DATAWave be primarily presented visually (charts, graphs, and tables). If I want/need more information, I will follow-up with the Assessment Resource Office," the following responses were given: 16 (18.6%) responded "strongly preferred"; 34 (39.5%) responded "somewhat preferred"; 22 (25.6%) responded "no opinion"; and 14 (16.3%) responded "not preferred."
When asked to respond to the statement, "I prefer that the information in the DATAWave be scholastic and thorough as space allows. I prefer the `meat' of the issue and not a lot of pictures," the following responses were given: 10 (11.9%) responded "strongly preferred"; 23 (27.4%) responded "somewhat preferred"; 28 (33.3%) responded "no opinion"; and 23 (27.4%) responded "not preferred."
Respondents were then asked what recommendation(s) they
would make to increase student participation in assessment efforts. A sample
of comments (verbatim) include:
The following comments (verbatim) were among those given
when respondents were asked what recommendation(s) they would make to increase
student awareness of assessment efforts:
Respondents gave the following comments when asked what
recommendation(s) they would make to increase faculty involvement in assessment
Respondents were then invited to make additional comments
Upcoming Assessment Activities
The Assessment Resource Office's purpose is to provide support to faculty, administration, and staff in the development of outcomes assessment plans, research in student learning and development, linking faculty to funding opportunities, and to conduct analysis on the more than ten years of outcomes assessment data collected at Eastern. The role of the office and its staff is to assist all members of the campus community in determining how well their office/program is contributing to the University Mission and to discover how best to enhance student learning and development in and out of the classroom.
Look for the following from the Assessment Resource Office in 1997-1998:
Assessment Day. Assessment Day will be on October 29, 1997, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The day's activities will include CAAP administration (Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency) to all rising juniors, departmental meetings on outcomes assessment, workshops on assessment, and a luncheon.
Outcomes Assessment Grants. Up to $15,000 will be made available to faculty, administration, and professional staff in Outcomes Assessment Grants for 1997-1998. Faculty and staff may apply for funding for consultation, materials, travel, and new outcomes assessment endeavors.
DATAWave. Once again, the Assessment Resource Office will publish a bi-weekly on outcomes assessment, the DATAWave. This year faculty can elect to receive the DATAWave electronically.
Academic Outcomes Assessment Plans. Academic Outcomes Assessment Plans (AOAP's) were developed in support of the University's plan for academic assessment and submitted to the North Central Association in June of 1995. All AOAP's were implemented in fall of 1995, and reports are due through the deans to the Vice President of Academic Affairs on November 1st. These reports will include information on the results of the outcomes assessment endeavors, the use of the results, program strengths, program weaknesses, and a revised AOAP.
Outcomes Assessment Plans for Non-Instructional Areas. All non-instructional units are required to report on outcomes assessment activities as well.
Assessment Conference. The New Mexico Higher Education Assessment Conference has been scheduled for February 1998 in Albuquerque. The Assessment Resource Office will again be more than happy to support individuals who will be presenting at the conference.
Many of the recipients who get the DATAWave don't want it. Next week, I'll be sending each recipient a letter asking that they subscribe to the DATAWave. Of course, there will be no cost; we just want to ensure that only those who want the DATAWave are getting it. We will make available to those who prefer to get the DATAWave off the Web the option of e-mail notification, or they can be prompted by announcement in The Monday Memo. Regardless, the DATAWave will continue to be printed on recyclable paper. In the past and now, the DATAWave is printed on 50% post consumer recycled paper which is also recyclable.
The DATAWave is not without its proponents. We will continue to attempt to provide a balance of graphics and text, giving some technical information/results, but hopefully not too much.
We will try to work with everyone on campus to understand the purpose of assessment, and we promise to do less. With the NCA accreditation, it was necessary to gather as much data as possible. I will be working with the Assessment Committee to determine just what outcomes assessment data is necessary.
A series of advertisements will be run in The Chase in order to begin to inform students about outcomes assessment. This is the result of repeated suggestions by the DATAWave readers.
Best wishes for the academic year, and please feel free to call on me at extension 2315 if I or my staff can be of any assistance.
Executive Director, Planning and Analysis