Missouri State University
Assessment in Action
Understanding Student Learning

For the Love of Students–Money!

Assessment Grant Request for Proposals

Assessing student learning is an essential component of general education and in the major. Here in the Office of Assessment, we realize that assessment on the part of faculty is sometimes extra work. Sometimes, that extra work costs a little bit of money. We hear you! We know how hard you work to better the education of our students, and we’re here to help. We are always available to be your thinking partner, but for a limited time, we can offer modest financial assistance to qualifying project proposals.

We are now accepting proposals for $500 Assessment Grants.  While proposals will be accepted after, May 22 is the deadline to be funded during the 2017 Fiscal Year.  This grant supports innovative practices in the assessment of student learning. The Assessment Grants are intended for faculty in their efforts to support and assess student learning in public affairs and general education.

Grant proposal forms are due May 22, 2017.

Eligible projects include (but are not limited to):

  • Compare student learning in face-to-face and online courses
  • Develop, revise, or refine student learning outcomes in the major
  • Support a meeting of dual course, per course, and full-time faculty in a department
  • Support focus groups with students or alumni to ask questions related to program learning outcomes
  • Focus groups with transfer and homegrown students on student learning in a program
  • Incentivize faculty for the extra work involved in assessment

Please contact us for consideration of proposals unrelated to those listed above.

Apply Now

We’ve made this application process as easy as possible. Simply obtain approval from your dean and department head, then complete the proposal form before the deadline. We convert your answers from the form into your proposal. All you have to do is fill out the form and click submit.

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The Power of the PAAW

The Public Affairs Assessment Workshop, or PAAW,  is an incredibly useful tool for MSU to assess how our assignments align with our Public Affairs mission. PAAW was developed for our HLC Quality Initiative Project (QIP). HLC reviewers commended the QIP and recommended expanding it to directly assess student learning in general education across the university.  From May 23–25, 2017, PAAW will be held in room 400 of Plaster Student Union—the Union Club—from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Faculty who teach in the Public Affairs section of General Education submitted samples of student work from assignments aligned with the following General Education Goals:

General Goal (12)–Community Engagement: Students will be able to recognize the importance of contributing their knowledge and experiences to their own communities and the broader society.

General Goal (13)–Cultural Competence: Students will be able to recognize and consider multiple perspectives and cultures.

General Goal (14)–Ethical Leadership: Students will be able to articulate their value systems, understand the ethical implications of their actions based on those values, and develop skills consistent with having a positive impact on individuals, groups, or communities.

Assignments range from blog posts, essays, reports, short answer questions, and more. If you miss this year’s submission rounds, we’ll be looking for similar samples next year related to the general education section titled “Human Culture.”

Faculty who teach in general education were invited to attend the workshop. Around 25 faculty, staff, and students will review and receive a $400 stipend for their participation. On top of the stipend, faculty will receive a letter describing their important role in university citizenship.

Faculty, staff, and students at Missouri State have a long-term and ongoing commitment to continuous improvement. The workshop provides an interdisciplinary space to assess student learning broadly and to learn more about assessment for improvement. The final produce will be an assessment report modeled on CGEIP’s Annual Report that will be shared with CGEIP.

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Hard Work Doesn’t Go Unnoticed

Hard work doesn’t go unnoticed here at Missouri State University. Assessment and the Council on General Education and Intercollegiate Programs (CGEIP) partnered together to honor seven General Education faculty who went above and beyond on their 2015–2016 Annual Assessment Reports. These outstanding faculty members were honored at the All-Faculty Recognition Reception hosted by the Office of the Provost on May 2, 2017.

We would like to show our appreciation to the following faculty for their hard work in moving Missouri State assessment forward. Thank you not only for your hard work, but for allowing us to share your reports as an example to faculty who fill out Annual Assessment Reports in the future. See the reports by clicking on the links below:

These General Education Assessment Award recipients had the opportunity to choose from the following gift options:

  • Athletic Passes—With two season passes, cheer on one of the following Missouri State University teams during the 2017–2018 season: men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s baseball, women’s softball, men’s football, or women’s volleyball.
  • Campus Parking Permit—The permit will be issued for the Fall 2017, Spring 2018, and Summer 2018 semesters.
  • Starbucks Coffee Club—Enjoy unlimited premium coffee from campus Starbucks vendors for one semester.
  • Tent Theatre Season Tickets—Two premium season tickets will grant admission to one performance of each of the summer’s three productions: She Loves Me (June 14–17, 19–24), The Three Musketeers (June 29–July 3, July 5–7), and Nice Work If You Can Get It (July 12–15, 17–23). Premium seating, in contrast to standard seating, features wider seating areas, armrests, cloth seat covers, and chair backs.
  • Union Club Boomer Meals—Visit the Union Club on the fourth floor of Plaster Student Union for lunch once a week for the entire semester. Offerings include a featured entrée of the day, soup and salad bar, desserts, and beverages.
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Applying the KISS* Principle to Assessment

*Needless to say, the second “S” stands for Smarty.

Like many of our students here at MSU, we (faculty and staff) sometimes make assessment more complicated than it has to be. I can guarantee that you’re performing assessment already, even if you don’t think you are.

Do you align your course assignments to General Education Goals or Specific Learning Outcomes (SLOs)? I thought so.

Here is one approach to make this easier:

  1. Get together with your fellow faculty members, choose an assignment that aligns with one or two General Goals, and collect samples of that assignment over a semester (or a year).
  2. Faculty can sort the assignments as “Low,” “Medium,” or “High.”
  3. Have a 1–2-hour meeting to look at and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the sampled assignments.

During the meeting you should answer the following questions:

  • What did students do well with this assignment?
  • Did we consistently see the same issues with “Low” and “High” assignments?
  • What are our next steps/what changes will we make?

Keep a record of your meeting with minutes, and you should have all of the information you need to report to your Program Coordinator, your Dean, or the Provost. Each year, you can simply choose to evaluate student work which aligns with a different General Goal or SLO.

If ever you need support to generate an assessment plan, we’re here. Email us at Assessment@MissouriState.edu to set up a meeting.

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Assessing the Assessors: Benefits of Feedback Surveys

Smiley Survey Keys (Keyboard Buttons Satisfaction Opinion Poll)Follow-up is often cited as the most important—and neglected—part of organizational projects. This is also true in academic assessment. Collecting and analyzing data is critical, but if it then sits unused, what’s the point? It could be making life easier for the people we want to support at Missouri State. It could also be a further step in “closing the loop” on assessment activities. Done properly, there are great potential benefits.

In December 2015, the Office of Assessment sponsored a new event aimed at getting the word out on what we collect, what we have to share, and how we can put this to work for colleges, departments, and administrative units as well as the institutional level. Over 50 participants from across campus joined us in a workshop setting that provided two opportunities: the chance to learn about the resources available through Assessment, and to talk through the ways this information has or could help them in their individual jobs, whether faculty or staff.

The event itself accomplished certain goals our office had in mind, but did it serve a quality purpose for the faculty and staff that attended? We were compelled to seek knowledge so that future planning might be better tailored to serve the campus community.

A small-population survey was created and distributed to workshop participants. Questions focused on the quality of the event structure and the usefulness of activities.

A post-workshop survey (86% response rate) showed a very positive reaction, with some of the responses presented below:

Question % Agree/Strongly Agree
I left knowing more about how evidence of student learning is collected at Missouri State. 100%
I learned things about assessment at Missouri State that I did not previously know. 97%
I would participate in similar events in the future. 97%
The facilitators were helpful. 97%
Workshop content will be useful to me in my work role. 86%
I would recommend this event to colleagues. 84%

We’re happy that our daylong assessment event was useful to its participants. There are certainly elements of the event that will be changed or improved based on individual feedback we received. It is encouraging to know that the Missouri State community is eager to collaborate and share ideas with colleagues they might not normally see.

If you’ve planned an event that will host a significantly sized group and would like to know how participants feel, think about administering a quick survey. Here are a few things we kept in mind while designing ours:

  • Have a specific purpose. Collecting information for its own sake can be counterproductive.
  • Keep it simple. Short and to the point is ideal, and improves response rates.
  • Keep it relevant. Follow-up should be mutually beneficial. What’s in it for participants?
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Student Engagement Reports Have Arrived at MSU

Engagement Surveysbanner

Available Now on MSU’s Assessment Page

Missouri State student engagement data is now officially available for viewing or download on the Assessment website. This data is broken into three categories:

  • The NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement) which is given to first-years and seniors to analyze how expectations match up after a few years.
  • The BCSSE (Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement) which is given to incoming students straight out of high school to gauge students’ expectations of college life before they are exposed to it.
  • The FSSE (Faculty Survey of Student Engagement) which is given to Missouri State faculty to measure their anticipations of student engagement.

Take a look at the survey pages under the “Current Projects” navigation bar and peruse Missouri State’s student engagement landscape to your heart’s content. Indiana University has revised their presentation of data, breaking it down into manageable chunks like the NSSE Pocket Guide, or FSSE Snapshot.

What Do These Surveys Tell Us?

So glad you asked! Using an aggregate of participant reports, student engagement data at Missouri State describes the quality of two major collegiate elements. First, the surveys look at how much time and effort MSU students are spending on academic activity as well as their prior expectations of said time. Second, the surveys can help the university better understand how its resources and infrastructure are being used for learning based on the way reality ultimately matched up with those expectations.

Because we utilize the FSSE, NSSE and BCSSE in tandem, Missouri State faculty and staff are afforded a big picture on the level of engagement among students. This data is potentially crucial when it comes to a variety of university interests, such as retention, advising, academic policy, student affairs, and much more.

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Survey Results Aid University Retention Efforts

Looking at the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) results in 2014, the university noticed something striking in response to the item “Do you expect to graduate from this institution?” While more than 90% of incoming students answered Yes, those who did not were much more likely to drop out— common among universities using the survey, as the graph shows. Some of these students leave voluntarily for reasons of their own, but that isn’t always the case.FireShot Screen Capture #026 - 'PowerPoint Presentation - Using BCSSE and NSSE to Help Retention Efforts FINAL_pdf' - nsse_indiana_edu_webinars_pdf_Using BCSSE and NSSE to Help Retention Efforts FINAL_pd

That’s where the university recognized an opportunity to help. Existing research shows several reasons students are likely to leave involuntarily. In addition to the most obvious, like financial concerns or academic issues, family obligations and not feeling a social connection to campus can be as strong or stronger for some. Given the likelihood of these students dropping out early in their college careers, the university is making an outreach effort to:

  • Identify individual obstacles to success
  • Connect students with available resources
  • Help them see through their educational goal

The 2015 BCSSE was administered at summer SOAR sessions and received more than 2,000 individual responses. Several academic and co-curricular units are active participants in the effort to use the responses to improve retention. Surveys can unfortunately leave the impression of being filled in, filed, and forgotten. This project to assist involuntary dropouts is an example of how MSU uses surveys for decisions that make a difference.

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MSU “to be commended” for Quality Initiative Project

As part of the university’s accreditation renewal process, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) determined that “Missouri State is to be commended for its work on this three-year project which has the potential to impact other institutions through the sharing of resources as outlined in the report.”



The ongoing Quality Initiative Project, as a function of the Office of Assessment, is intended to align “institutional outcomes with general education, public affairs, student affairs and professional education outcomes” through a collaborative review of student work related to the Public Affairs mission. This in turn leads to institutional changes as the project’s findings are re-integrated in the classroom as well as co-curricular programs.

The HLC determination is based on four criteria that they feel were demonstrated by the institution:

*Seriousness in the project
*Institutional impact
*Institutional commitment and engagement
*Resource provision

The university’s accreditation is reviewed by the Higher Learning Commission once per decade, and the 2015 review will culminate in an on-site visit taking place in October.


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Annual Report, 2015

As part of the university’s Student Development and Public Affairs unit, the Office of Assessment is responsible for submitting an annual report detailing progress toward stated goals in the past year and a look at the coming year’s primary objectives. You can see Assessment’s newly issued report right here: Assessment – Annual Report 2014-2015.

Some successes of the past year have included:

  • Re-engineering the University Exit Exam to make state reporting requirements easier, as well as making the Exam itself easier to use.
  • Increasing response rates on student engagement surveys by nearly 15% to help us better serve the student community both in the classroom and beyond.
  • Assisting campus-wide preparations for the on-site visit of the Higher Learning Commission.



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This Week in Assessment: June 8-12

  • On Tuesday, June 9, the University Exit Exam became available to students enrolled in GEN 499 for the summer semester. The summer administration will include some improvements on the spring pilot administration, but the use of Blackboard has a big success.
  • The Career Center and the Office of Assessment are working together to enhance the senior survey section of the University Exit Exam. This will make state reporting requirements an easier process and replace a paper-and-pencil survey given at the graduation ceremony.
  • Consulted with several academic and student life programs as they think through their assessment programs for the coming year.
  • Administration of the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) has begun in partnership with SOAR. The BCSSE is used as an advising tool for incoming students and help the university understand what students expect and need from their campus experience.
  • The Assessment team has worked to help secondary teacher education programs align state and national standards to their rubrics in preparation for Taskstream.
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