Showcase to Highlight UA Assessment Practices

Showcase to Highlight UA Assessment Practices

By Alexis BlueUniversity Communications
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As state funding for universities declines and The University of Arizona works to reorganize through the Transformation Plan, it's becoming increasingly important to evaluate what works and what doesn't work about the way the UA does business.

A showcase for the campus community next month will help tackle the question of how the UA can best engage in productive self-assessment.

The "UA Assessment Showcase 2009: Best Practices in the Assessment of Learning and Teaching" will highlight different assessment practices used to evaluate everything from student success in the classroom to the success of entire University programs in a time when the UA must demonstrate its accountability to a number of constituencies, including students, parents, regents and state legislators.

"It's an opportunity for faculty and academic professionals to show off the assessment practices they use in their units," said Gwendolyn Johnson, director of assessment in the UA's Office of Institutional Research and Planning Support and organizer of the showcase.

Faculty members, especially, are encouraged to attend the free daylong showcase, which features a variety of workshops led by UA professors and professionals.

Topics of the approximately 20 workshops in the program include how to create a grading rubric, how to assess students' writing skills, using portfolios and capstones for assessment, assessing programs to improve efficiency and how to assess student performance in varying academic disciplines.

"In assessment, one size does not fit all. Assessment in fine arts might look a little different than assessment in engineering," Johnson said.

A licensed clinical psychologist, Johnson likened the importance of the University assessing itself on all levels to the importance of assessing a patient before prescribing a treatment plan.

The timing of the showcase is fitting as the University nears its 10-year reaccreditation process through the North Central Association's Higher Learning Commission. The commission will pay a site visit to the UA in 2010.

"The NCA wants to see evidence that institutions are in fact assessing themselves and using the results in formative ways to affect units, facilities and processes and to improve efficiency," Johnson said.

Presented by the Office of the Provost and the Assessment Coordinating Council, the showcase takes place Feb. 11 at the Tucson Marriot University Park from 7:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. It's free to attend.

Featured speakers include Provost Meredith Hay and keynote speaker Victor Borden, associate vice president of University Planning, Institutional Research and Accountability at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Space for the showcase is limited. To reserve a space and view a showcase program, visit the UA Assessment Web site.

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