Notes from Meeting of
2 October 2009


The second meeting of the University Assessment Panel (UAP) was held on Friday, 2 October 2009, at 10:00 a.m. in Altgeld 203.


Catherine Wehlburg Workshop

A regular UAP meeting will not be held on Friday, October 16, 2009, because of the assessment workshop by Catherine Wehlburg. All UAP members are signed up for the morning session. Registration for the afternoon session is being handled through the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.

Campus Assessment Network (CAN)

CAN meetings are held five times during the academic year. This year’s first meeting will be held on Friday, October 9, at 2:00 p.m. Generally, the first hour is spent on general business and presentations; the second hour is devoted to hands-on experiences or discussions. This year, a book discussion group has formed, which will occupy the second hour of the October meeting. The title selected is Building a Scholarship of Assessment by Trudy W. Banta. All are welcome. Anyone wishing to participate in CAN should contact Carolinda Douglass.

University Writing Project Report

An overview of the report on the University Writing Project (UWP) was presented by Douglass. For this project, course-embedded writing assignments are evaluated by Department of English faculty according to rubrics presented in the report. As had been noted in last year’s report and in other analyses, presentation (grammar and technical skills) was the weakest of the seven skills evaluated. Also of note was a negative correlation between writing score and help from the Writing Center; an explanation of this could be that the weakest writers are aware of their deficiencies and are therefore the ones most likely to seek help. A correlation was found between cumulative GPA and UWP score. UWP results are presented by university, college, and class. It should be noted that the sample sizes for Business and Engineering & Engineering Technology were very small compared with those for Health & Human Sciences and for Liberal Arts & Sciences, which understandably had the largest sample size.

Several suggestions were offered to make the report more accessible to the readers and to emphasize the importance of writing in all disciplines. Changes that will be implemented in next year’s process include the addition of a one-page executive summary to clarify the rationale for undertaking the project and to specify what actions might result from the findings. Also, examples of papers from various disciplines will be available as part of the call for participation. These papers will have been evaluated and judged as exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, or falling short of expectations. In order to encourage participation by faculty, the thank-you letter that the chairs receive will emphasize strongly the value of the time and effort put forth by the participating faculty.

The importance of emphasizing writing skills across the disciplines, and also the difficulties and time constraints involved in grading grammar and punctuation, were discussed. Changnon reported that Geography has decided to integrate writing assignments into all of the department’s courses. Strong university-wide support is needed to encourage such practices among all colleges and departments.

Feedback and recommendations for future UWP programs and reports will be gathered from the UAP, the APC, and the GEC and will be discussed in a future UAP meeting.

Literacy Education Report on Capstone Course

A Capstone Course Development Grant was awarded for a new course in the Department of Literacy Education. The report from the first section of the new course, LTCY 586, was discussed. Strengths cited were a good level of detail, the use of direct assessments, and excellent rubrics. The UAP voted to give the department the second part of the stipend for further development of this initiative.

Geography Ph.D. Assessment Plan

The assessment plan for the new Ph.D. program in Geography was reviewed. The methods charts were commended, in part for their clear delineation of direct and indirect measures. It was suggested that the department evaluate their 14 rubrics as they begin to be used and modify them as needed. Changnon, who was representing the department at this meeting, said that the assessment plan was the result of many years of involvement in assessment conferences and meetings, and that the UAP’s program reviews were helpful in developing these new standards.

The discussion of direct and indirect measures prompted a motion for UAP to mandate only direct measures, with indirect measures to be included only where appropriate. Franklin thought that direct measures may not be appropriate for student support units, although it was suggested that both direct and indirect are required at present. The discussion was tabled until the next meeting, so that the current verbiage and proposed changes can be clarified.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting is scheduled for 6 November 2009 from 10:00–12:00 in Altgeld 203.