Sunday, January 8, 2012

want some money?

by Shirlee

The Learning Assessment Council now has a budget!!

This is our 4th year of existence, and up until now our mission has been a bit temporary and provisional: we were helping PCC feel its way forward into the new era of "accountability" in higher ed. We insisted that assessment be respectful to both teachers and students, and that the efforts should not be wasted -- but should lead to meaningful and practical results that could actually be used to improve teaching and learning.... This process meant that faculty had to be deeply involved in designing assessments, as well as implementing them -- since it is faculty who will be most directly involved in implementing any program or instructional changes suggested by assessment results.

Our recommendation that assessment be faculty-owned and faculty-driven has, indeed, resulted in more work for faculty members -- which was not a universally popular consequence of our advice. But this fall. talking with people who had been through one or two of the assessment cycles, it was clear that opinion was changing. Enough people had learned enough interesting things from their program or discipline assessments, and were willing to talk about them, to change the energy. And then our work was recognized by our accrediting agency, NWCCU, which wrote that we were substantially in compliance with their standard on assessment. Hurray for us!!

And, to top it off, the council got our very own budget. Not a lot (who gets what they really need these days?) But not nothing, neither. So, in that very first meeting to discuss what to do with the $$, we all knew immediately what we had to do:

--offer it up to support the creative and exciting assessment activities being cooked up by PCC SAC members.

(OK, we did briefly consider taking the entire council to Hawaii, but we gave that up pretty fast....)

It would have been lovely to have this all ready as SACs were making their assessment plans in the fall. But life doesn't always offer up perfect timing... So we decided to offer it late, rather than not at all, on the assumption that people are never unhappy about getting more money than they anticipated.

The time line is tight, though. We are asking for applications by Feb 3. We have about $12,000 to give away, and we want to give it away in chunks up to $2000 to support SAC assessment projects. What might you use it for? Here are just a few ideas.

  • To invest in an assessment instrument that has been developed specifically for your field.
  • To hire an assessment expert or consultant to advise you on assessment design.
  • To acquire some software that would make your assessment cycle more effective or efficient.
  • To send a SAC member to a conference on assessment in your particular field.
  • To hire a psychometrician to help interpret assessment results.
These are just a few ideas -- and not particularly creative ones -- but I am hoping you get the idea. PCC is just one player in the world of Higher Ed, as we are all seeking to move into "evidence-based educational practice." There is a lot going on out there, and some of it would perhaps be particularly helpful to you, if you just had a bit of money to access it.

The application documents are available both from the Learning Assessment Council page and the Staff Development page (intranet).

Assessment coaches will be contacting SAC chairs to see if they have any interest in filing an application, and to offer help. If you want to get more information, or float an idea, please call:

Shirlee Geiger chair of the Learning Assessment Council 971 722-4659, or
Michele Marden, vice-chair 971 722-4786

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