Using Multiple Assessment Strands

Shidler College of Business

-800 declared undergraduate majors and 550 graduate students.
-12 academic degree programs plus executive programs and graduate certificates.
-Degrees awarded annually (average): 490 Bachelor, 160 Master, and 5 Doctorate.
-60 instructional faculty members.

The Shidler College of Business offers twelve degree programs, graduates 200-300 students a semester, and is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), so when Ellen Vinson offered to be Shidler’s college-level assessment coordinator, it was met with relief. “I have been interested in assessment for a long time and kind of stepped in and just said, why don’t I coordinate this for you because we needed to move forward with assessment,” she said.

For all of its degree programs, the college uses embedded assessment; however, each of the undergraduate majors “approaches it a little differently,” Ellen said. “We have a two-pronged approach: we have four goals that relate to the entire Bachelor’s of Business Administration [BBA] because students have so many courses in common.” In addition, each undergraduate major has its own fifth, distinct goal that the department may assess differently. “One department uses a pre-post test. The other departments assess their majors using a variety of assignments selected by faculty,” Ellen said. The four BBA goals are assessed by faculty teaching required college courses using in-course (embedded) assessment. This same method is used for the College’s MBA, MAcc, MFE and MHRM programs. Ellen’s main role as a non-faculty assessment coordinator for Shidler involves collecting this assessment data from each faculty member and producing reports that the Assessment Committee reviews. “I’ll produce reports and they pour through the information and look at it carefully,” Ellen said. “They’ll make recommendations to the Curriculum and Programs Committee who can then act on the recommendations. Any recommendations for major curriculum changes must be voted on by our College’s Faculty Senate.”

This process ensures that program assessment at Shidler progresses to a stage where the information yielded is useful. After their first year of program assessment “the Assessment Committee and this Curriculum and Programs Committee (CPC) came to the same conclusion with our ethics goal,” Ellen said. They realized “it wasn’t taught or assessed in one of our core courses so beginning next year, ethics will be addressed in a different course . . . That’s the success for the first year: the faculty saw an issue and they’ve made a change.” Now Shidler’s ethical component has been moved to a core course that students are required to take as part of their BBA degrees. To look for further inconsistencies across the many curricula, Ellen instigated curriculum mapping for the BBA degree program. “I went to one of the workshops [the then Assessment Office] had done,” Ellen noted. “I took it to [the Department Chairs] and then they consulted with their faculty and brought [their curriculum maps] back to me.” One of the benefits of curriculum mapping for Ellen was that it enabled her to help faculty understand that assessment is focused on the program and program improvement, and it is not used to evaluate individual faculty members. “It’s not that the faculty member isn’t doing his or her job,” Ellen reminded. “It’s that perhaps somewhere in the curriculum the preliminary material isn’t being taught so students then aren’t prepared for the other material,” she said.

Ellen also helped the faculty reword some of their student outcomes. “I looked at some of the goals and they weren’t necessarily measurable,” she said. Building on her assessment background, Ellen worked with the Department Chairs “to rephrase or to come up with a different language, not to change the meaning, but to come up with a different language for the goals . . . The faculty understood that the goals needed to be student-centered but the whole piece of it being measurable was a little bit of a challenge . . . It’s a new language and that’s all it is.”

Although Shidler’s accrediting body—AACSB International—does not recognize indirect assessment methods (e.g., surveys, student self-reports) in their review of the College, Ellen sees the intrinsic value of getting student feedback. “I do exit surveys for all the programs,” she said. Ellen’s surveys challenge students to rate how the Shidler College curriculum contributed to the undergraduate program goals, as well as to rate the quality of instruction and the curriculum. “It’s just another piece of information that our Assessment Committee can use,” Ellen concluded. The multiple types of information that Shidler collects allow the college to form a more complete picture of student learning, preparation, and satisfaction, which it uses to guide curriculum decision making and to convey to outsiders the high quality of the College and its programs.

While assessment in the Shidler College of Business is an important part Ellen Vinson’s job, it is also a team effort. “The first year I worked with assessment at Shidler, there wasn’t an Assessment Committee. This year I was able to identify people who saw the value of a faculty assessment committee,” she said, adding that it was essential to promote assessment “in language that made it important to those involved.” In the regularly scheduled assessment meetings she has seen a growing interest among faculty. “I think they’re beginning to invest a little bit in [program assessment] and to perhaps see some value.” Shidler’s Assessment Committee is even considering increasing the percentage of students assessed. “AASCB requires us to do assessment for 20%,” Ellen said. “The assessment committee is considering changing that, having a recommendation that we assess 100% of the students,” demonstrating that program assessment in the Shidler College of Business is not only working, it is also growing.

Keys to Success

  • Establish college outcomes and use a common assessment method across departments.
  • Structure the process to get everyone involved.
  • Emphasize that assessment results are used for program improvement.

Methods to Collect Evidence

  • Embedded (in-course) assessment.
  • Pre-post test.
  • Exit surveys.

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