Missouri State University
Assessment in Action
Understanding Student Learning

First-Person Perspectives: Louise Love’s QIP Experience

Quality Initiative Project

Believe it or not, I was not always an enthusiastic student that loved her school, and everything in it. I just wanted to graduate. When I began the QIP workshop in May, 2014, I was coming off an incredibly difficult semester. I had hit a roadblock and, like many other students, I had no idea how to take my next steps. Though I did not expect it at the time, the workshop was an eye opening experience for me, one that helped restore my faith in education.

DSC_0476 (2)The Quality Initiative Project is an assessment effort to determine the depth of public affairs knowledge held by students of all fields and disciplines. During the nearly week-long summer workshop, other students, faculty and staff reviewed anonymous completed assignments to find out what students learn and how they learn it in a way that complements the university mission.

Throughout the week, I had the opportunity to witness how much teachers actually care about their students’ learning. Sometimes, as a student, it’s easy to assume that instructors are teaching their classes as a means to a paycheck. The QIP workshop proved the opposite: the participating faculty sincerely cared about how deeply students were understanding the principles of public affairs. For them, it was not enough that students could repeat the names of the public affairs pillars. They wanted to know if students learned enough about the university’s mission to be an example of public affairs in their daily lives.

“The QIP workshop challenged us to analyze ourselves, on a personal level as well as an academic level.”

I don’t think I was the only QIP participant that got more than I bargained for from the workshop. Though the workshop’s purpose was to evaluate student work, it became much, much more. The QIP workshop challenged us to analyze ourselves, on a personal level as well as an academic level. Before this workshop, I didn’t give much thought to the public affairs mission. I never even considered why it was so important to the university. But now, I understand its purpose and hope to make it a part of my life outside of the university setting. The principles of the public affairs mission will help our generation create a better world. Equally important, I now know that my instructors care about my learning. The faculty that I met through the QIP workshop showed me that they want students to succeed; not just in the classroom, but in life, as well.

Challenge and Opportunity

DSC_0508Overall, the QIP workshop was an incredible experience for me. It allowed me to learn so much about our school, our mission and myself. The workshop gave me an opportunity to have a voice and to know that my opinions mattered. My input was taken seriously and showed me that even as a student, I am an important actor in determining the direction of this university. I am so grateful for the opportunity and hope that I will be able to attend other QIP workshops in the future. But the experience isn’t just limited to me; I hope that future generations of students continue to take part in this amazing opportunity.

Students: if your attitudes are like mine prior to the workshop, please take heart in my experience. You have an important voice and you are lucky to be at a university where the faculty take student experiences to heart. And just as important, we are part of a community determined to make the world a better place by means of the public affairs mission.

Professors, faculty and staff: don’t be afraid of the public affairs mission. It may seem like a challenge to add new curriculum to your courses, but your contribution will make a difference in the lives of your students. Remember, teaching the Public Affairs Mission is not something that needs to be made as an assignment or a new unit; it can be found in how you portray yourself and in your teaching. As professionals at this university, we should be able to embody this mission in both your personal and professional life. If that can be done, teaching the PA mission will become the norm. If we work together, we can help make a brighter future for everyone!

– Louise Love

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Using Feedback from Student Internships to Make Changes In Agriculture Courses

Feedback From Internships Led to Research

Based oAgriBussAgriEdComm_CommUndergrad_home13172-8104n student feedback after internships in Colorado and Kansas, agriculture faculty realized they needed to broaden student’s understanding of animal agriculture. In the feedback, faculty found that students were amazed by how much they did not know. Sue Webb explained, “They had some knowledge going out there, but what they learned here [in Missouri] did not apply as well in Colorado or Kansas because of differences in climate and size. Agriculture students at Missouri State are used to 200 acre cattle operations in Missouri. In Colorado and Kansas, it’s 200 ‘sections.’”

Differences in agricultural methods and terminology vary across the country.  Webb said, “Students who did internships with big companies were caught by surprise. There’s an unexpected variety across the country. For example, there is less water in the Great Plains. These regional variations prompted us to think about a collaborative study between the University of Central Missouri and Northwest Missouri.

Student Exit Survey and Changes to the Program

Agriculture developed an Exit Survey for seniors. Results form the senior exit survey led the School to make the following changes:

  • Added a hands-on component with the Journagan Ranch as a resource to develop more hands-on experiences for students including short internships.
  • Increased access to labs in Basic Animal Science classes
  • Increased number of short-term internships at our facilities and more opportunities to work directly with animals. Results from the Exit Survey have led us to emphasize Animal Welfare.

Triangulating Student Feedback and Employer Feedback to Make Changes to the Program

  • Hired a natural resource and forestry faculty member. Students repeatedly reported needing more forestry knowledge. This feedback from students was substantiated by the Conservation Department and the end user—employers.
  • Employers said students needed more social media and we needed to modify our program. Based on employer feedback and student feedback from internships, we hired a full-time person for Agricultural Communications. This person will lead efforts to help students learn more about social media in the agriculture industry.

Agriculture

  • 18 faculty
  • 650 majors
  • 9 undergraduate degree programs
  • 40 graduate students
  • 2 graduate programs

Keys to Success

  • Developed an exit survey for seniors.
  • Utilized information from employers and students to improve the program.

Methods to Collect Evidence

  • Collected evidence through an exit survey.
  • Collected evidence from students during the internship
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Balancing the Equation: A Professor’s Formula for Incorporating the Public Affairs Pillars into the Physics Classroom

Incorporating the public affairs mission into a classroom setting can often seem daunting and overly complicated. It’s a call that many faculty wish to heed, but are unsure of how they might structure it correctly. Dr. Shyang Huang, a professor in the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Materials Science, recently proved that the simplest explanation is often the best by developing a course-specific approach for embedding public affairs in his physics classroom.

Dr. Shyang Huang

Physics and Public Affairs? Yes.

When asked how to approach the process, Dr. Huang had this to say: “I never attempted to teach public affairs per se, because public affairs are not in the catalog description of any of our courses. However, when I realized that two of the three themes (community engagement and cultural competence) when cast in the light of a service-oriented attitude, are the motivation for a liberal arts education, I became convinced that there is a logical way of integrating public affairs into regular teaching.”

Dr. Huang is a returning submitter and reviewer in the Quality Initiative Project, a public affairs assessment where student work is evaluated regarding the strength of overall connection with public affairs. Reviewers utilize a scoring guide, listing the attributes of the public affairs pillars alongside a series of levels measuring the depth of knowledge. The scoring guide starts with ethical leadership, moves into cultural competency, and concludes with civic engagement.

Modifying the Scoring Guide

Dr. Huang used his summer introductory physics classes as an opportunity for students to reflect on their place in society from a public affairs perspective. He reasoned that because many of his students were likely to move into medical fields, a new approach was required to engage the desirable depth of thought. Dr. Huang used the structure already provided by the scoring guide to develop the questions for his students, but then he got creative with it, working backwards to provide a socially-minded context in regards to student responses:

Scoring Guide: Ethical Leadership  Cultural Competency  Civic Engagement

Dr. Huang: Civic Engagement  Cultural Competency  Ethical Leadership

“I started with community engagement, because self-awareness is a human nature, and that is the basis of a productive, service-oriented engagement,” he explains. “This is then followed by cultural competence, which grows out of self-awareness and, when mastered, is manifested in class mobility. I then follow up with ethical leadership, which one must exercise as he/she overcomes cultural/class barriers and moves up the ladder in the community.”

In brief, Dr. Huang has established a precedent for teaching the three pillars, but doing so in a way that remains conducive to the learning goals of his classroom.

What Backwards Thinking Produced:

Dr. Huang engaged his students by asking for personal experiences, anecdotes, stories from the news and even using popular films to illustrate ethical dichotomies. Student responses were vastly different, each drawing on unique experiences as support. These student responses were submitted for inclusion in the Quality Initiative Project: Public Affairs Assessment.

So how is this level of engagement achieved in other disciplines?  Dr. Huang challenges faculty interested in incorporating public affairs concepts in a variety of disciplines with a series of questions focused on student goals from a social evolutionary/anthropological perspective. In other words, how will the course material prepare students for social “survival,” or the ability to achieve success among their peers after graduation:

  • “What’s on (the student’s) mind? Why are they taking your class? What role does your class play in his/her strategy of survival?”
  • “What happens after survival? (Class mobility)”
  • “What then does it take? (Cultural competence and ethical leadership)”

The answer to the questions is sure to be diverse, but eventually the apex of learning should lead to a strong sense of community engagement, the final pillar on the list. Dr. Huang hopes that his students will be prepared to perform highly in their communities after applying the skills from their fields with a vast array of prior thinking about public affairs leadership.

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The Power of Snickers and Social Media: Successfully Promoting the BCSSE Survey

This summer, the Office of Assessment spearheaded a campaign to promote the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement, or “BCSSE.” The BCSSE is a short, 36-question survey that collects information on incoming students’ high school academics and co-curricular experiences as well as their expectations for their first year of college.

Response rate skyrocketed

BCSSEChartWhen the BCSSE was last administered in 2011, only 545 out of an approximate 2500 students completed the online survey. This year 2,030 paper surveys were filled out!

The Assessment team worked with Joe Morris, Director of SOAR (Student Orientation, Advisement, Registration) to promote the BCSSE. One essential strategy was switching from digital surveys to paper. This offered incoming students an opportunity to complete it during their SOAR activities, making it more convenient as they registered for their first semester of classes.

After the first two weeks of SOAR, the average session completion was hovering around 120-127– a projected total of 1700. By session eight, it was clear that several SOAR groups were going above and beyond, achieving an average participation rate of 90%.

The Assessment team felt that these groups needed some recognition. And never underestimate the power of a simple “thank you.” Candy bars and thank you notes were distributed to the top leaders at the bi-weekly SOAR staff team meeting. They were then tagged in a congratulatory tweet from the Office of Assessment’s official Twitter for all the university to see.

The SOAR leaders started encouraging each other on Twitter by “favoriting” the congratulatory tweets to the groups with the highest participation each session. The encouragement and candy sparked a spirit of friendly competition, team encouragement, and an increase in response rates. Soon, 138-155 completed surveys each were coming in each session!

Thanks to the SOAR team, we received 2,030 completed surveys this summer.

Why is a high response rate important?

On October 3, for the first time at Missouri State, student advisers will receive individualized reports for each  freshmen who completed the BCSSE survey during SOAR. The aggregate information from BCSSE is used to better understand first-year students’ needs, wants, and expectations. It focuses on six learning related areas.

That data would be useful to me!BCSSEimage

BCSSE has been especially valuable for those working on:

  • recruitment
  • curricular reform
  • academic advising
  • retention
  • faculty development
  • accreditation and self-studies
  • first-year programs

The Office of Assessment discussed and analyzed at BCSSE data during the “Turning Data into Action” session of the FCTL Showcase on August 13.  BCSSE “Coffee Breaks” will be hosted this fall, where interested faculty and staff can collaboratively delve into the data together.

The individualized student report will be available to the students’ advisers this October. The summary reports will be available this November to all interested faculty and staff.

If you are interested in attending a BCSSE Coffee Break this fall or would like a copy of the data in November, please send an email to Assessment@MissouriState.edu.

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A Graduate Research Assistant Perspective on Assessment: The Charlie Whitaker Edition

Introduction

Hello! My name is Charlie Whitaker and I’m a new Graduate Research Assistant in the Office of Assessment. I’m happy to announce that this is my first post on Assessment in Action, a blog featuring the work, events and upcoming developments from inside the office.

8e3a6e63a3bf5044d2f63d78e119e2c4In 2012, I graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Media. After a year away, I enrolled in the department of Media, Journalism and Film‘s graduate Screenwriting certification.

The following semester I returned to begin studies in the Master of Science in Administrative Studies with an Emphasis in Screenwriting and Producing program.

First Week

The initial days in the office were a mix of introductions and research. I met a team of highly talented people, each focused on a variety of disciplines, including Marketing and Audiology. We’ve all been given the opportunity to utilize other skills in order to complete tasks and seek different perspectives when encountering challenges. For example, I’m using my background in Screenwriting to assist in the development of public speaking material. Never guessed that would come in handy before this week.

I’ve also learned Assessment at Missouri State has several focuses, including analyzing campus-wide surveys, departmental consultation and student learning projects such as the QIP.

It’s still early, but I’m already confident that I’ll come out of this experience with a greater academic awareness and improved set of applicable abilities.

The Future

During the next few weeks, my intended tasks include giving the website some love and supporting the university-wide Public Affairs Mission. Here’s what I’m excited to do:

  • Formatting office communications or projects into something more attractive, and readable.
  • Advancing the Office of Assessment social media presence to engage and inform our audience.
  • Getting to know other departments and industries (I’ve already been able to learn about several, through updating the website with Assessment reports, including Psychology, Agriculture, Marketing and Business).
  • Simplify and disseminate messages to a variety of audiences–directly and via the website and social media, following the NILOA Transparency model below:

NILOAmodel

Thanks for taking the time to read! Please subscribe and check back regularly with Assessment in Action for new, exciting stories of student learning and informative updates on Assessment Activities.

Charlie Whitaker, Graduate Research Assistant

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Assessment in Action: Media, Journalism, and Film

Colleges at Missouri State have highlighted departments who actively assess student learning and have “closed the loop” by making changes to their classes and programs based on evidence gathered about student learning. Visit the Use of Student Evidence on the Office of Assessment web page to read more about how faculty, staff, and departments at Missouri State model this assessment for improvement cycle. The Office of Assessment is gathering these stories from around campus.  The first in our “Assessment in Action” series highlights Media, Journalism, and Film. Thank you to Dean Galanes and Dr. Pardue for sharing their assessment story from the College of Arts and Letters.  If you have an assessment in action story you are interested in sharing with the campus community, please contact Sarah Gray.

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Collecting, Collaborating, and Celebrating: Assessing Student Learning

Public Affairs at the University

As part of the Higher Learning Commission Quality Initiative Project, the Office of Assessment collected student work related to public affairs with the goal of understanding students level of knowledge related to public affairs. A group of faculty and staff reviewers met in May 2013 and on October 26. Faculty, staff, and students reviewed student work using a rubric or a collaborative assessment protocol. We were thrilled to welcome Kelsie Young and Brett McKnight (both students of the Student Affairs in Higher Education graduate program) as our first student reviewers!  The reviewers did an incredible job scoring over 260 pieces of work in less than two hours. Reviewers were able to participate in interdisciplinary conversations about public affairs. Brett McKnight commented on the impact of his participation.

Blog_Brett_McKnight

 

“Participating as a reviewer allowed me to see how truly committed the University is to integrating the public affairs mission into all areas of our community.  The experience also allowed me to not only to see how the core curriculum seeks to reflect the mission through a unique variety of assignments, it helped me to identify ‘best practices’ for instructors and supervisors to generally engage their students in a holistic understanding of the public affairs mission.”

The first review session results are already available online, and the second review session will be available online soon.

What are we doing now that the review session is over?

  • We are currently analyzing and creating a report for the Fall 2013 Quality Initiative Project review session. It will be available on our website soon!

  • We are collecting student work year round to be included in these sessions. Do you have a public affairs assignment or experience to share with the Quality Initiative Project? Faculty and staff can sign up to participate online by filling out the Intent to Participate Form.

  •  We are seeking recommendations of faculty, staff, student who would be interested in reviewing student work at the Spring review session? Students, is there an assignment or experience that impacted your public affairs perception? Tell us about it by commenting on this blog or by emailing us at Assessment.MissouriState.edu.

The video below is a discussion about the Public Affairs Assessment:  Quality Initiative Project during the FCTL 2013 Showcase; it is led by a panel of reviewers from the Fall 2013 review session and facilitated by Kelly Cara.

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An Introduction

I am excited to announce that I joined the Office of Assessment in Carrington 422 as the Director of Assessment on January 2. It has been a whirlwind few weeks.

The Office of Assessment sponsored the first “Showcase on Assessment” on January 23. Each college was represented in the breakout sessions. Materials from selected faculty sessions and video of the keynote presentation are available at http://www.missouristate.edu/assessment/ShowcaseOnAssessmentSpring2013.htm

In future posts, you’ll read more about the the work of the Office of Assessment. Here is what we are currently working on:

  • Overseeing the collection of student work submitted for the Quality Initiative Project (http://www.missouristate.edu/assessment/QIP.htm). This is our proposed project for the Higher Learning Commission to assess the public affairs mission at Missouri State. Please consider providing student work/artifacts for the assessment of public affairs. Visit our website to fill out the Intent to Participate Form or to apply as a reviewer in the summer: http://www.missouristate.edu/assessment/QIP.htm
  • Working with faculty on General Education proposals, and in the future, work with faculty to report on the proposed assessments.
  • HLC, specifically the assessment of Public Affairs as part of the Quality Initiative Project proposed to the HLC.
  • General Education assessment—helping faculty, programs, departments, and colleges address assessment
  • Working with Assessment Council (http://www.missouristate.edu/assessment/89754.htm)

 

Keri Franklin, Director of Assessment

 

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