University Assessment Panel

Notes from Meeting of
18 September 2009


The first meeting of the University Assessment Panel (UAP) was held on Friday, 18 September 2009, at 10:00 a.m. in Altgeld 203.



The online Assessment newsletter, Toolkit, is published four times per academic year. The first issue for this year is now online. Issues regularly include proven tools and resource materials for both student affairs and academic units. All previous years’ issues are available online, indexed and hotlinked, through the Assessment Services website.

University Writing Project (UWP)

Each year, about 500 undergraduate junior and senior writing assignments are evaluated through the UWP to measure writing ability. The project encourages faculty participation by using student work that is already part of their course requirements. A brief handout describes the program and provides guidelines for participation. The UWP Report will be discussed at the next UAP meeting. Recruitment for the 2010 UWP is underway.

Capstone Course Guidelines

Guidelines for development of a capstone course, or culminating experience within a degree program, were distributed. Stipends are available to faculty who are interested in developing or redesigning such a course. Proposals are due by February 5, 2010.

Assessment Expo

The Office of Assessment Services will once again host the Assessment Expo to highlight best practices in assessment. This year, the theme is derived from the three major elements of the Baccalaureate Review: critical thinking, communication, and context. The event on March 19, 2010, will feature both posters and roundtable discussions.

Catherine Wehlburg Program

On October 16, 2009, a program co-sponsored by Assessment Services and the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center will feature a morning workshop by Catherine Wehlburg. She will explore the power of faculty learning groups as a method for transforming teaching and learning through the use of assessment processes. In the afternoon session, Dr. Wehlburg will focus on measurable outcomes and meaningful measures, particularly in relation to NIU’s baccalaureate goals. The UAP members will be registered for the morning session. Registration for the afternoon session, if you choose to attend, should be sent to the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.

UAP Notebooks

The notebook includes background material pertinent to the university’s assessment objectives and program review schedules and cycles, which have been designed to insure compliance with the state-mandated academic program review every eight years.

The executive summary of the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success discusses principles and goals that will help provide a pathway to “one Illinois,” where all residents have affordable access to high-quality educational opportunities that prepare them for the jobs of the present and the future. The goal of affordability is a topic of broad discussion in the current economic climate. Budget constraints not only are affecting access to student aid (especially the MAP), but are having an effect on staffing levels at the IBHE. Currently there is a growing backlog of new academic programs waiting for review and accreditation by the IBHE.

The Guidelines section of the notebook, which gives detailed information on the steps and processes involved in the formal assessment cycle, was reviewed.

2009 Program Review Report

For each program reviewed, the IBHE requires a one-page summary, which should include both the assessment results and a description of changes that were implemented. The Program Review Report contains the summary reports of the 20 academic programs whose reviews were completed in the spring of 2009.

Federal Update

This update by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation compares current regulations with proposed regulations as published in the Federal Register of August 6, 2009. Of particular interest are issue #3, which concerns student achievement standards and how they are set, and issue #9, which focuses on direct assessment of student learning outcomes.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting is scheduled for 2 October 2009 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon in Altgeld 203.