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The Value of Expressing Uncertainty

All models are wrong, but some are useful. – G.E.P. Box

Earlier this year, I caught up with a colleague at a national conference who had recently taken a new position in student affairs assessment.  Before she took the position we had discussed what to expect, but at this point she had been in …

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Logic Models & “Big” Assessment Questions

"Questions" written by hand with blue marker

What are we supposed to be assessing? What are we learning from our assessment efforts? How do we know if we are achieving our desired outcomes? How do we make sense of all the assessment data we do have? Whether you are assessing your own program, enhancing assessment within your unit, or coord…

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Slay Your Campus Assessment Monster

Is your assessment house the kind that gives away the full-sized candy bars or one that gets egged every year, as is tradition, by the neighborhood kids?  With a keen eye and some patience, you can turn into a regular Assessment Van Helsing, and slay your campus assessment monster.  Assessment monst…

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Transferable skills - transferred

I have worked in Student Affairs since I was an RA a long time ago, and loved every minute of it. I enjoyed working with students at both their best and their worst, sometimes within hours of each part of that continuum. I remember stories from that time early on, and still even keep in contact with…

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When Assessments Don’t Provide the Results You’re Looking For

With the barriers many in Student Affairs face to create buy-in for the much-needed assessments, it can seem like an Olympic winning when others begin to see the importance of assessments and participate. But what happens when you are past the data collection phase and your results are not what you …

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What Motivates You to Engage in Assessment and does it Matter?

 

 


Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

I was recently in a meeting when the subject of faculty and staff attitudes towards assessment came up in the conversation.  The discussion evolved into a debate about whether it is important that university employees value, or embrace, assessment or is it…

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Federated Assessment

In higher education, we have a number of forums where we are able to share our ideas and best practices and discuss the day-to-day challenges we encounter.  We set up working groups and committees with our colleagues, we have professional development organizations and listservs where we share resour…

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Adding to Your Assessment Toolkit: Using Time and Variance to Your Advantage

If you are engaged in assessing programs or services, you are likely interested in change – particularly in improvement. Improvement is a central tenet of assessment within the higher education context: We use assessment results to drive organizational or programmatic change – with the ultimate …

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Should You Implement a Self-Study Process?

One of the things that I love about working in higher education is the balancing act between cultivating creativity and innovation while still reinforcing tradition and history.  Our students are every day grappling with the past in order to push into the future. As educators, we try to get our stud…

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Telling Our Story through a Departmental Blog

In the field of student affairs, we know assessment and data-based decision-making are important. A key step in the assessment cycle is reporting: sharing results and decisions with stakeholders. In the Center for Student Engagement (CSE) at George Washington University, we set out to improve how we…

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Five Ways to Prioritize Assessment in Your Work

Priority boardAt the end of the spring semester, I sent a survey to Student Affairs Staff at my institution to get information about their professional development needs in the area of assessment.  In addition to asking directly about those needs, the survey also posed some questions that were indirect indicators…

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Barriers to Intentional Assessment

Recent posts on the SAAL blog have examined the importance of intentionality in the assessment cycle. The posts hit on one of the most significant hindrances to good assessment practice in student affairs work, specifically, that assessment initiatives require intentionality to be effective. Unfortu…

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Much Ado About Dashboards

The first assessment project that I ever worked on took me down a rabbit hole.  It was a major survey project that asked our first year students about their experiences during their first semester on campus.  Not only did we wind up with a good response rate, but we also had a number of dedicated pa…

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Promoting the Use of Assessment Results

Working with graduate students is great. There are a host of reasons for this, but one primary reason for me is that they keep you on your toes professionally. They ask tough questions that drive one to reflect on one’s own practice, think critically about the use of theory, and adopt different lens…

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Building a Bridge Between Student Affairs and Institutional Research

As data and assessment become more important across the university, making strong connections and collaborations with key partners should be a top priority for every Student Affairs assessment professional.  My colleague and fellow SAAL blogger, Melinda Stoops, shared her view on The Power of Coll…

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Why you should be colleagues with your technology people - and not just when something breaks

I’m not a programmer, coder, and/or software engineer. Sometimes I wish I was - the magical things that can happen when one understands the inner workings of creating things that work for computers is something I’ve always been impressed by. However, since I’m not a computer marvel, I’ve found great…

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The Power of Collaboration in Assessment Efforts

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” (Helen Keller)

I recently sent a survey to all Student Affairs employees at my University.  Within minutes, I received an email from a staff member reporting that she completed the survey, but had difficulties with a specific questi…

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You’re a Data Person: Building Data Literacy

A few years ago, I interviewed for my first job in student affairs assessment and to start the conversation one of the interviewers said to me, “So…you’re a data person.”  At the time, I did not know how to respond. Certainly while I was in graduate school I developed a strong background in quantita…

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Performance Measures to Get You to Your Destination

I was recently chatting with a colleague about performance measures. They were sharing with me a less-than-positive experience having been in an organization that used performance measures in connection with their strategic plan. As we spoke I was reminded that performance measures can be a mixed ba…

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Embracing Sisyphus or My First Year Leading University Assessment

I was an assessment ninja.

As a consultant, I could swoop into a campus, help re-establish, re-evaluate, or refine their assessment practice, and leave unnoticed. Nothing left behind but happy villagers and the memory of a moment in time when data started to inform practice.  My campus collaborat…

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