University Assessment Panel

Notes from Meeting of
October 4, 2002

The first meeting of the University Assessment Panel (UAP) for the 2002-2003 academic year was held on Friday, October 4, 2002, at 10:00 a.m. in Lowden Hall 304.


Cassidy called the meeting to order and welcomed both returning members and new members of the panel. Registration for the IUPUI Assessment Institute is due to Sue Saari today; the brochure for the institute was distributed at the meeting. Assessment Essentials: Planning, Implementing, and Improving Assessment in Higher Education by Catherine A. Palomba and Trudy W. Banta was distributed to the panel as an assessment resource.

Budget Update

Current information about state revenues show a multimillion dollar deficit for FY03, which the president discussed in his State of the University address last week. A handout describing the state budget situation was distributed to panel members. The university has been successful in the past in obtaining program priority funding, however, no new program money was received this year.  Requests for FY04 were submitted and President Peters’ budget priority is funding for faculty and staff increments. A meeting with the IBHE staff to discuss the FY04 budget priorities was held in September.

State Level Assessment Issues
The state report card for higher education does not have data to determine a “grade” for student learning.   The Pew Charitable Trusts is working on a pilot project for using several nationally norm tests including literacy, critical thinking/problem solving, and the National Survey for Student Engagement to develop a model on how to assess student learning. The dilemma is how to develop meaningful indicators for higher education, because it is difficult to assess learning across the disciplines and evaluate students with different majors using a single indicator.

Musial suggested that alternative models should be developed, and that the effectiveness of the test be questioned.  She suggested that competing models should be developed by different groups. Rintala pointed out that there is the danger of inputs being affected by a focus on outcomes, especially if funding is tied to those outcomes.  She wondered whether the accrediting bodies might have more influence in this area. Vohra suggested that general education assessment could be used as an indicator that cuts across higher education or core curriculum for seniors.

The IBHE is in the process of developing a set of indicators that will be reported on annually. The indicators will report on performance at three levels: the state level, across the public universities or “core” level, and at the institutional level. A set of possible state and core indicators has been made available for public common and recommendations about which of the indicators for these levels should be adopted. A copy of the indicators was distributed and will be discussed at the next meeting.

Review of the Notebook and Responsibilities of the Panel

The responsibilities of the panel were discussed including the review assessment plans from the academic programs and the support units. Information included in the UAP notebook was reviewed. The Office of Assessment Services conducts a variety of assessments including the alumni and national surveys and three projects that assist with the assessment of general education assessment: the Junior-Level Writing project, and the portfolio and capstone projects. The call for proposals for the portfolio workshop and the development of capstone courses was distributed to faculty. The panel will review the proposals later this year.

Preparation for NCA Reaccreditation and the 2004 IBHE Mandate for Assessment

In preparation for the university’s reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association and the IBHE requirement that all programs use evidence from assessment for program improvement, the panel will conduct a review of all academic program assessment plans in FY03. The plans from the undergraduate programs will be reviewed this fall and the plans from the graduate programs will be reviewed in the spring. In addition the university needs to report to the IBHE annually on how assessment findings from each program is used for program improvement, but the exact nature of the reporting has not yet been determined.

Last year the panel adopted a rubric to evaluate assessment plans and to provide feedback on the plans to programs and support units. Musial suggested that the labels associated with certain categories be removed from the rubric to avoid the simplification of a label.  The panel used the rubric to review a previously submitted assessment plan and status report in preparation of independent reviews of the assessment plans from the academic programs. The importance of clearly stated outcomes, the systematic use of multiple measures to assess each outcome, the combination of direct and indirect methods of assessment, and evidence of how assessment findings are used for program improvement were discussed. The feasibility of fully implementing the plans was also noted as an important consideration in the plans.

Each panel member was assigned two assessment plans to review and report on at the next meeting.  Each plan will be reviewed by two panel members using the rubric. Information from the panel’s review of the assessment plans will be sent to the programs.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:12 pm.  The next meeting of the UAP will be October 18, 2002 in Lowden Hall 304.