Faculty Roles in Using Assessment Data to Inform Decision-making (History)

In effective systems of student learning assessment, programs regularly complete the assessment cycle by using what was learned from assessment to inform or influence program decisions. Faculty and instructors play critical roles in evaluating student work and then interpreting and discussing results, so that program-level assessment can contribute to decisions about curriculum, instruction, professional development, and assessment processes. 

The Department of History, under the guidance of Assessment Coordinator Theresa Jordan, created an assessment process that is responsive to faculty needs. Noting that the faculty have limited time, the process requires all faculty to attend a one-hour norming session, then rate a random sample of student papers for each class indicating their students’ scores on one or more program-level learning outcomes. Combining the process of grading with rating saves the faculty members invaluable time; faculty reported that rating their students’ papers while grading added, on average, about 20 additional minutes.

In the academic year 2014-15, the Department of History’s data were summarized by the Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning and presented at a faculty meeting that included faculty on all campuses. The visual display of results aided in the interpretation and discussion of student performance, as well as the strengths and limitations of the assessment process. For example, results indicated barriers to participation on the urban campuses and faculty suggested ways to overcome them. The results also showed the importance of attending a norming session to produce consistent scores. Faculty agreed that norming is an important part of the assessment process and that reviewing the data helped the department identify strengths and areas for improvement in their undergraduate program.

The end result of this assessment process and the History Department’s engagement is a time efficient method involving all teaching faculty that provides useful data for the department. For more information on planning assessment, displaying results or using assessment measures in your program to get actionable results, please contact one of ATL’s Assessment Specialists.