University Assessment Panel

Notes from Meeting of
December 5, 2003

The fourth meeting of the University Assessment Panel (UAP) for the 2003-2004 academic year was held on Friday, December 5, 2003, at 10:00 a.m. in Lowden Hall 304.


Kevin O’Kelly is graduating in December, and will no longer be able to be the undergraduate student representative. The panel members thanked him for his service and wished him well.

The self-study prepared for the site visit from the Higher Learning Commission will be sent to Document Services on Monday.  We are also working on setting up the resource room for the site team. To date we have not be able to contact the team leader of the site team. NIU’s liaison at the commission is attempting to make contact with her, and there is a possibility that a new team leader will need to be selected.

Elisa Fredericks Presentation

Elisa Fredericks from the Department of Marketing gave a presentation on students’ perceptions of NIU’s general education program.  Two of her classes held 15 focus groups, n = 143, to get students’ input.  The summary of their findings were that students seem to understand the merits of general education courses in upper level classes and describe them in terms of more general overall intangible benefits, students listed more advantages than disadvantages, and they wanted smaller classes. Fredericks said that if the UAP had any ideas you would like researched, please let her know one month before classes start and they could be assigned a group projects in her classes.

After the presentation the panel discussed the study.  Barnard advised that the General Education Committee is reviewing the exact questions and data.  Cassidy asked the group how they would like the findings from the study expanded or refocused.  Comments included selecting a random sample, being sure that students knew which courses were in the programs, explicit and implicit goals for the program, focus is on courses – need to look at whole program, it’s good students are doing writing assignments.

Information Skills Assessment

Osorio discussed information skills assessment.  He noted that these skills will be easier to incorporate into upper-division classes, and there needs to be thought given to how they can be implemented in lower-division classes.  Information skills assessment has been added to The “Backbone” Model of the University Assessment Plan.

Results of Junior Level Writing Project

The Junior Level Writing Project was started in 1999 and was also conducted in spring 2003.  Barnard noted that participation in the project has diminished 40 percent since it began. Barnard and Cassidy are looking at another approach to assess writing skills that is not dependent on using a class period and has ‘value added.’ One goal of the modified project is to include faculty from across the campus to review the writing samples.  College of Business contacted Barnard to conduct a follow-up on a group of students who are now seniors in order to assess any changes in writing

Barnard distributed copies of the 2003 project report to panel members.  This report will be sent to the chairs, deans, and associate deans.  Barnard will also meet with all the colleges and give them more detailed information for their programs.

Update on General Education and CITC Research and Assessment Committee

General Education Committee is using a rubric to review courses that are being submitted/resubmitted for inclusion in the General Education Program.  The group continues to seek well-articulated and substantiated assessment plans as a part of each submission.  CITC is also considering use of a common rubric for their assessments.

SP03 Test of Critical Thinking Results Summary Report, College of Business

The Critical Thinking Test was first done at NIU in 2000.  The project was repeated in 2003 specifically for the College of Business.  The report for the 2003 College of Business was sent to the panel members.  Data show that COB students performed at or above national levels.  The students received certificates regarding their performance.

Other Business

No other business.

The meeting was adjourned. at 11:27 a.m.  The next meeting of the UAP will be January 16, 2003 in Lowden Hall 304.