CHEA 2011 Award Submitted

CHEA 2011 Award Submitted CHEA has an annual awards competition ( ) for innovative assessment efforts. Attached is the WSU 2011 application, submitted last Friday, describing our pilot year of institutional assessment.

WSU CHEA 2011 Award Application

[SACS] Student Learning Outcomes – Business

On the question, does every major have to report outcomes:

From: SACS Commission on Colleges Discussion Forum [mailto:SACS-L@LISTSERV.UHD.EDU]
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 2:57 PM
Subject: Re: [SACS] Student Learning Outcomes – Business

I can guarantee it is every major within a degree. Also you must show that every program has been assesed and that improvement strategies have been implemented; not plans to improve. Also at your reaffirmation every program must be finished with this process not just a portion.

Comment to the original post


I believe they are somewhat farther down the assessment trail. 

Can we ask this same question directly of our accreditation agency?

Yeidel, JoshuaNo presence information at 3/31/2010 5:39 PM

Coordinating on Glossary Terms

Just an update on the meeting yesterday with Larry.  The Goals groups are meeting and defining terms for WSU’s Strategic Goals (Core Themes).  The implication as I read it is that we need to hold off on these terms:


So in the context of the assignment Ashley shared, the language you find that elaborates on these concepts –or translates them effectively as suggested– may have to be reworked to align with efforts of the four WSU Goal groups.  Meanwhile, I am shipping AEA and NWCC&U definitions to the Goal Groups as Larry confirmed and suggested.

There remain  a number of terms and conceptual bottlenecks related to the language of assessment that will no doubt keep us busy.


Howard Grimes
Mary Wack
Muriel Oaks
Melynda Husky

Each chairs one of the four groups, in order.

Our model, an “adult dose,” and the note that silenced the SACS discussion list

From: SACS Commission on Colleges Discussion Forum [mailto:SACS-L@LISTSERV.UHD.EDU] On Behalf Of Brown, Gary
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 1:00 PM
Subject: Re: [SACS] assessment reflection reporting

Hi Rebecca (and  SACS folks),

We provide a template for reporting that includes 5 dimensions (available at :

1.      Program Description
2.      Assessment Team and System
3.      Goals, Outcomes, and Measures
4.      Analysis and Action Plan
5.      And Leadership

We understand that leadership should be integral with the team and system, but since the leadership dimension has proved to be so pivotal, we have broken it out.

In addition to the template, we have a rich rubric and levels that guide the assessment of every program’s assessment efforts.

Each program report on each of the preceding dimensions is rated as absent, minimal, emerging, established, effective, or outstanding.  Scores are provided by assessment experts independently and external experts are encouraged in this formative process.

Each program’s rating is dynamic to encourage continuous improvement, and program scores roll up into college and institutional reports. (The process is new and action plans are being developed and rated this term.)

We have survived the first round of ratings with mostly appreciation for the guidance and recognition of the growing importance of this kind of work.  Obviously there are (vocal) outliers.


Dr. Gary R. Brown, Director
The Office of Assessment and Innovation
Washington State University
509 335-1352
509 335-1362 (fax)

From: SACS Commission on Colleges Discussion Forum [mailto:SACS-L@LISTSERV.UHD.EDU] On Behalf Of Lewis, Rebecca J
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 11:23 AM
Subject: [SACS] assessment reflection reporting

Hello All,
UT Arlington has a mature assessment process with pretty standard documentation – an assessment plan; a results report, which documents any proposals for improvement; and a report that documents any improvements that were based on assessment.  However, we are looking for a way to contextualize and to some extent summarize assessment findings.

We are considering asking Deans and VPs to create a reporteach assessment cycle reflecting on the most meaningful outcomes and findings as well as on faculty/staff engagement in the assessment process. We are also hoping this will increase administrative engagement and awareness about assessment across campus.  Below my signature are the proposed contents for this report.

Is anyone out there doing something like this already?  If so, what are you asking to have included in the report?  How is it working on your campus?
I would also like feedback about the proposed contents.

Thanks for your assistance with this!

Rebecca Lewis
Assistant Director of Outcomes Assessment
Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness
UEP Home Page

Dean/VP Assessment Reflection Report
Reflection on important and meaningful outcomes and findings:
A.     How did the units in your school/college or division choose the outcomes to be assessed?
B.     Please describe a few of the most significant findings from the assessments conducted by your units during this cycle.
C.     For colleges/schools, are there any instances where improved student learning can be demonstrated as a result of assessment and subsequent improvements to programs and services?
D.     For divisions, are there any instances where improved productivity and/or efficiency can be demonstrated as a result of assessment and subsequent improvements to programs and services?
Reflection on faculty/staff engagement in the assessment process:
E.      Describe the level of faculty/staff engagement in the assessment process.
F.      Describe any particular examples where faculty/staff have shown initiative and excitement about assessment and the opportunities that assessment can create?
G.    What can the college/school/division do to improve communication about assessment within the unit(s)?
H.     What can the college/school/division do to increase faculty/staff engagement with regard to assessment?
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Assessment, Accountability, and Improvement: Revisiting the Tension

Assessment, Accountability, and Improvement: Revisiting the Tension
A key piece from Peter Ewell and NCHEMS, and a good resource for those who wonder why we do what we do the way we do.  This assessment of assessment is both a rationale and a blueprint:

Ewell says:

“Institutional accrediting organizations remain membership associations, however, so they cannot stray too far toward establishing common standards and applying them through aggressive review.”

“They also remain extremely limited in their ability to influence the majority of institutions not at risk of losing accreditation.”

“The future effectiveness of institutional accreditation in both promoting good practice and in reinforcing the academy’s assumption of consistent and transparent standards of student academic achievement lies entirely in the hands of the academy and its leadership.”

peterewell 2009

Recognition from VP Quality, Curriculum, and Assessment at AAC&U

From a 12/15/2009 webcast, Terry Rhodes,Vice President for Quality, Curriculum, and Assessment at AAC&U:

Questioner: “How is VALUE & Power of Rubrics to assess learning playing in the VSA [Volunteer System of Accountability] Sphere?”

Rhodes: [VSA is ] very concerned about comparability among institutions, but they have indicated they would love campuses to use rubrics and to report on them, but they want to have some way that they can provide comparability. I think again the work that is going on at Washington State begins to provide a way to do that. It’s not necessarily a score but is a wonderful rich way to provide the multiplicity and multiple dimensions of learning in a graphic way that is easily represented and easily communicated.

Questioner: “Are there any accreditor responses to the use of rubrics (vs VSA test scores) share?”

Rhodes: “All of the accrediting workshops at SACS at Middle States–are very heavy into that. Northwest is one area that has lagged a little behind on this, but I think with Washington State pushing them they are going to get more enthusiastic. All of the accreditors have actually viewed rubrics, and the use of them, and the reporting of learning using rubrics as much more useful for campuses than a single test score.

Professional and Institutional Accreditation (ASPB View)

From the Executive Director
American Society of Plant Biologists

Hi again Gary.

I always enjoy learning more about topics that are unfamiliar to me, and accreditation is definitely one such topic! Clearly we could spend considerably more time in dialog (and I hope that we will!), but to directly answer your question, “What accountability bodies (or just pressures) are plant scientists responding to, if any?” I think the answer currently is ‘none.’

That said, you may be familiar with the (NSF-sponsored) -Vision and Change- exercise (see, which is one of the approaches to re-envisioning undergraduate biology education with which ASPB has been closely involved. Although it’s still somewhat fuzzy, it does seem to me to be coming into focus, and SoTL is definitely a major emphasis.

Although I am not aware that the NSF is actively pursuing accreditation metrics as (sort of) one end of an educational/research continuum, it is unusual among science research agencies in that it does have programs that focus on SoTL (in the Education and Human Resources Directorate), as well as the (perhaps better know) research programs (in the Biology, Geosciences, Math, etc. directorates). It is also clear to me that the NSF is making large strides, where appropriate, in interdigitating these programs. Which is to say that program officers are actively encouraged to work together across the directorates.

It is also pertinent, I think, that the NSF instigated a requirement four or five years ago that has had a profound impact on the way in which funded researchers approach the dissemination of their science. Known as “Criterion 2” or “broader impacts”, it obliges grantees to (in a nutshell) demonstrate to the NSF the ways in which they have engaged the public and/or educators and students around the objectives of the funded research project. This (of course) is not directly related to accreditation; my point, though, is that should the NSF so chose, it might be able to find ways to — er — induce more effective teaching among its grantees. (There’s a disconnect here, as I’m sure you appreciate. Organizationally, the role of a grantee as a teacher at his or her institution is largely distinct from their role as an NSF-funded researcher and governed by different structures. But just because it’s a tough nut doesn’t mean there won’t be people or organizations willing to have a go at cracking it.)

Getting back to ASPB — and recognizing that we are currently operating in an ill-defined ‘space’ and with (one) immediate goal of improving our members’ understanding and application of SoTL in their teaching — there is a raft of resources to which I could point you. I’ll start with just a couple, though, and copy in my colleague Katie Engen. Katie is a) more immediately familiar with ASPB’s efforts in this area, and b) in closer touch with our Education Committee (, which tends to pay closer attention to formal K-16 education, and with members of our Education Foundation board (, which focuses more on informal, public education. I’m sure that she will be able to offer additional thoughts and links to resources, and she’ll be a good conduit –should such be needed– to members and leaders who are directly engaged in these efforts.

Speaking of, we are encouraging members to become both more literate about SoTL and more willing to properly study the efficacy of their own teaching (see, e.g.,; please let Katie know if you can’t access this page and she’ll send you a pdf). We’re encouraging direct engagement by the society’s members in K-12 education (not necessarily your immediate interest, but the caliber of primary and secondary education has an obvious and direct impact on tertiary education); see for an article on this topic published recently in our top-notch research journal and for a statement on this topic that was ratified by the Society’s executive committee a couple of months ago.

We have also articulated some fundamental principles relating to knowledge of plants (see, and a project funded by ASPB’s Education Foundation is developing SoTL-informed hands-on modules around each of these principles.

I’ll stop there and invite both you and Katie to weigh in with any additional thoughts and comments.


From: Brown, Gary []
Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 2009 5:30 PM
To: Crispin Taylor
Subject: RE: accreditation


Thanks for the quick response!

You have very acutely inferred the heart of my question (though I agree it was a bit muddled).

I’m looking at the way CHEA and almost every other regional and professional accrediting agency is in the process of revising standards, essentially raising the bar and requiring assessment to focus on outcomes (rather than coverage,) and encouraging educators to establish systematic assessment (rather than the fire drill events we are so adept at).  The goal of this across the USA has been to put a renewed focus on making changes in teaching and curricula based upon evidence.

I know that sciences are often without specific accreditors, though not without influencing agencies like NSF, NIH, and, presumably, ASPB.  At the same time, professional accreditation organizations like ABET (Engineering), AACSB (Business), NCATE (Education) etc. are also revising their standards to better align with regional accreditors.

So the question was what accountability bodies (or just pressures) are plant scientists responding to, if any.  I appreciate your answer.  Your response also raises the follow up question:  When you say you are ‘actively engaged with,’  I wonder how you (or I in my role in the office of Academic Effectiveness at WSU) can do more to engage and leverage the important influence of professional peers to encourage attention to the scholarship of teaching and learning.  As you can imagine, the challenge I face in my role is to keep the discussion focused on enriching the student learning experience rather than on perfunctory compliance with an annoying bureaucracy.

I am currently embarking upon a very exciting project with a group of plant scientists here at WSU, so any leads you might provide will be more than welcome by our team as we endeavor to expand and deepen our effort.  And, needless to say, as I anticipate a potentially terrific model of integrated research and assessment, done transparently online with what will be available tools, you and ASBP will certainly be welcome to join us.


From: Crispin Taylor []
Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 2009 12:18 PM
To: Brown, Gary
Subject: RE: accreditation

Hi Gary:

Apologies for being dense, but I’m not quite sure what your question is driving at. ASPB is well aware of — indeed, is actively engaged with — various efforts to re-envision the undergraduate biology curriculum, and we assuredly recognize the value of applying what is being learned through research on teaching and learning to improve pedagogy and instructional outcomes. We’re also investing in various online mechanisms and tools aimed at teaching content and/or process. I presume that many of these threads will come together in more formal accreditation programs/efforts, but at this point I do not believe that ASPB is promoting or participating in any such programs.

Having said all that, I am still concerned that I may be missing the point of your question. I think it’d help me do a better job answering that question (or referring you to someone who can) if you could provide me with some examples of the kinds of things you are referring to (e.g., examples from other disciplines), as well as some additional information regarding the context in which you are working.

Thanks for contacting me; I hope I will be able to help out, either directly or indirectly.

Crispin Taylor, Ph.D.
Executive Director
American Society of Plant Biologists
15501 Monona Drive
Rockville, MD 20855-2768
Direct: 301-296-0900
Main: 301-251-0560
Fax: 301-251-6740

It’s not too soon to save the dates…
Montréal, Canada
Jul. 31 — Aug. 4, 2010

From: Brown, Gary []
Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 2009 12:08 PM
To: Crispin Taylor
Subject: accreditation

Hi Crispin,
I’m working with our plant biology programs here at Washington State, and I’m interested in learning more about various educational accreditation influences that may be looming relative to ASPB.  Do you know or do you know somebody I might contact to learn about where the profession may be heading.


Dr. Gary R. Brown, Director
The Office of Academic Innovation & Effectiveness
Washington State University
509 335-1352
509 335-1362 (fax)