Here are some ways assessment has been used to improve student learning at Shepherd University in the last five years:
- In order to improve student success in microbiology courses, mini-grant money was utilized to pay peer tutors to organize and conduct study group sessions for microbiology students. This effort resulted in a dramatic increase in the percentage of microbiology students using Academic Support Center services.
- In order to improve their curriculum, the Psychology Department created pre- and post- tests to better assess the knowledge of their majors. These tests are administered in first year and senior level courses. Results show higher scores for seniors but also indicate areas within the major that require improvement.
- Assessment has proven to be a valuable part of our Program Board’s planning process. Weekend trips are tracked using RamPulse and then sent a post-event survey via Baseline. In addition to assessing student satisfaction with the event, the survey will also include a question to assess whether the weekend trip offered influence students’ decisions to stay on campus on the weekend and whether students feel more connected to others as a result of participating. Six Program Board weekend trip events were surveyed during the assessment period including two coach bus trips to major cities (New York City) and smaller trips via vans (Renaissance Festival, Lasertag, Storer College, Baltimore). Data was collected from surveys after each. More than 87% of those surveyed indicated that students felt an enhanced sense of connection to others and the campus community as a result of participating in these trips. Student comments reinforced that they appreciated having the opportunity to meet or spend time with their peers, to learn about history or experience a new region, and as a result of participating in these trips. Student satisfaction with the trips was over 90%. These results also reinforced that trips are a good investment of Shepherd’s resources and that we should continue to offer these opportunities in the future.
- Title IX has used the assess process to increase campus-wide awareness about sexual and interpersonal violence and harassment. Their efforts have resulted in a very successful “Stand Up, Don’t Stand By” campaign that resonates campus-wide and has become a proud emblem of Shepherd’s identity.
- For more than ten years, the Department of Contemporary Art and Theater has organized a Portfolio Review Day at Shepherd to provide professional evaluation of student portfolios for students in upper-level art courses. Professional artists are brought to campus to provide unbiased criticism of students’ work. Evaluators provide an assessment for every student indicating a level of success for each area of the portfolios including letter of introduction, résumé, artistic statement, and quality of work within the portfolio. Students are critiqued on how they present themselves in an interview. Students meet individually with reviewers to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their portfolio. Feedback received during the sophomore year allows students to improve upon weaknesses and enhance strengths, while seniors gain insight into their viability in the job market. From this experience, department faculty gain feedback and understanding of employers’ needs in order to improve course offerings, which leads to curricular revision. Mini-grant funding from the CTL has helped the Department of Contemporary Art and Theater offset costs of this annual event.
- During the most recent assessment cycle, the report for the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design Concentration showed that while benchmarks for direct measures were not quite achieved, 100% of students surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that they had the requisite knowledge to prepare their work for a professional presentation.
- In the English Department, each graduating major participates in a Capstone experience during his or her final semester. A key component of this experience is the presentation of a scholarly, creative, or pedagogical project to departmental faculty, students, and community members. With a set benchmark of 100% of Capstone students demonstrating effective oral communication skills when presenting their Capstone projects, the department achieved a threshold of 96% due to one student failing the assignment during the last assessment cycle. Exit surveys from the last assessment cycle document 100% of students reporting being satisfied or very satisfied with the instruction they received in conducting sophisticated, scholarly research within the department. The English Department will continue to use the presentation of a scholarly, creative, or pedagogical project to departmental faculty, students, and community members as a means of assessing graduating students’ oral communication skills. The department will continue to guide students through their capstone experience so that all can excel.
- Based on assessment findings, Communication Department recently made some adjustments to their digital video production curriculum. Results show improvement in student learning in several key areas within this concentration.
- For the NSSE 2019, we administered a “senior transition module” and those who responded to that portion of the survey indicated a desire for increased career preparation in classes. To that end, we increased the number of presentations by our Career Advisor in senior capstones and added a “Senior Experience” (SREX) course to the curriculum which is being co-taught by our Career Advisor and our Trio Student Support Services Academic Retention Specialist.
- Based on student comment feedback on the Academic Support Center assessment, more evening hours and more tutors for various subject areas were implemented. In 2019, Tutor.com was implemented in 2019 in order to provide “around-the-clock” tutors in multiple subject areas (including writing for graduate students).
- Based on student comment feedback on the Dining Services assessment, the University developed the Riverside Market to better meet student needs and desires for quick service by providing the following three basic themes: A convenience store section, a “Panda Express” styled menu, and a made-to-order smoothie bar.
- Based on their assessment, Greek Affairs learned that an overwhelming number of students desired less paper forms/resources and more communication to be handled digitally. They also found that students wanted more involvement within the Greek community and better recruitment events. The office is currently working to make those changes. Furthermore, based on assessment feedback, the office has created an anti-hazing program and pledge which has helped the institution prevent hazing.
- Assessment feedback provided to the Office of Institutional Research led to the adoption of a new “online” course evaluation process for the campus.
- In their assessment, the Registrar’s Office planned to reduce the percentage of final semester deficiency alerts generated for departments by 20%. They revised their communication plan to invite second-semester juniors to apply for graduation via an intensive email contact and connection campaign starting at the beginning of the application semester and repeating the invitation (targeted to those who had not yet responded) at regular intervals until the application deadline. This campaign has increased awareness of the application deadlines and processes and has improved the readiness of students in the various departments. The Registrar’s Office also revised certification forms to increase self-reporting of veteran enrollment. Their goal was to increase compliance to at least 85%. They improved this process and increased self-reported numbers to well above 90%.
- Residence Life assessment results show that more training is needed for RA’s in order to successfully on-board residential students who have ASD and to help them become accustomed to a new environment and to be academically successful.
- On assessments from the Service-Learning Office, over 80% of students expressed a positive impact through reflection papers after completing community restitution sanctions for policy violations.
- Assessment data from the Student Success Academy resulted in the creation of a unique First-Year Experience course for SSA students.
The following are perceived learning gains by seniors who took the NSSE in 2019:
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