Student Learning Assessment: Challenges and Resources

In the following post, CNDLS Graduate Associate Lindsay Pettingill reports on a recent assessment workshop she attended at American University.

How do we know what our students are learning? How do we know if our department is producing graduates with sufficient disciplinary understanding? How do we know that the courses we teach are providing students with the skills to compete in a globalized economy? These questions are asked by educators quite frequently, but few have the tools, support, or resources to respond rigorously to such questions. On Friday, October 30th, faculty, staff and administrators from across the DC metro region gathered at American University to discuss the challenges and opportunities of assessment at the university level. The workshop was organized by the Washington Area Student Learning Assessment Network (WASLAN).

After an introductory history, participants discussed the obstacles they have faced in implementing and carrying out rigorous assessment, including recalcitrant faculty, lack of resources, and distrust of administration. These obstacles may seem immense at times, but there are many steps that institutions, departments, and programs can take to promote assessment. While strong leadership is key for change at any level, participants discussed options such as restructuring faculty awards, and identifying an empowered resource with both the skills to assist faculty in assessment and the stature to ensure university support.

With the obstacles covered, moving the assessment process forward is crucial. This is where CNDLS and WASLAN can be of assistance. Mindy McWilliams and Daryl Nardick of CNDLS can help you and your department to:

  • design a mission and identify your strengths,
  • articulate goals and objectives,
  • identify expected curricular and other outcomes,
  • and design means of measurement

Georgetown’s Assessment Portal provides a variety of resources, including data, reports, articles, and examples.

Stop by CNDLS for more information, or contact us with questions!

Students Apply for Engelhard-Themed House on Magis Row

This year, a group of students inspired by the ideals of the Engelhard Project successfully applied for housing in Magis Row, a series of row houses for third- and fourth-year students who want to pursue social justice causes outside of the classroom.  Johanna Caldwell, Emmie Furino, Stephanie Hannah, Lauren Scherr, and student coordinator Katie Cronen will be living in “The Cura Personalis House” for the 2010-2011 school year.  In their application, the students explained: “we are passionate enthusiasts for the Engelhard Infusion Project, the growth and goals of which we would like to cultivate at the student level.”

While residing in this living and learning community, the students aim to “create a continuous dialogue that maintains the spirit of Engelhard discussion within our home, both when guests are present and after they leave.” Engelhard faculty fellow Jennifer Woolard (Psychology) volunteered to be the faculty supervisor of the Cura Personalis House.  She will oversee the students as they continue to take the spirit of the Engelhard Project into the community.

More information on Magis Row can be found here.

“Reimagining Tradition” Video Shown at Fall Faculty Convocation

At this year’s Fall Faculty Convocation on October 28th, President DeGioia and guest speaker Diana Chapman Walsh, President Emerita of Wellesley College, explored the theme of teaching practice.  After viewing a video entitled “Reimagining Tradition: The Spirit of Teaching and Learning at Georgetown,” the audience was invited to participate in a conversation with DeGioia and Chapman Walsh.  You can view the video above, and we welcome your comments.

Georgetown’s Blue and Gray published an article about the convocation that includes quotes from Chapman Walsh, DeGioia, and CNDLS’ Randy Bass.

Ballou Students Partner with GU Students on Civic Engagement Projects

In partnership with students from Professor Heather Voke’s Civic Engagement and Education course at Georgetown, Ballou High School students have collaborated to develop projects including a student government, a course catalogue, a senior class fund, and an activities fair. The Civic Engagement and Education course is part of CNDLS’ Engelhard Project and Doyle Initiative.  On Thursday, October 29th, these students will present their projects to the public in Ballou’s library.

For more information about this project, contact Masako Chen.

Randy Bass Speaks at ISSOTL Conference

This weekend, 650 people gathered at Indiana University for a meeting of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL). CNDLS’ Randy Bass, a founding member of ISSOTL, spoke at panels and workshops on the following topics: In Search of the Humanities in (IS)SOTL, SOTL 2.0: The Next Ten Years of Technology, and Social Pedagogies: Exploring a Design Framework Through the Evidence of Learning.

Georgetown faculty Michael Coventry (CCT) and Heidi Elmendorf (Biology), both frequent collaborators with CNDLS, also participated in the conference.

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education describes some of the questions explored at the conference, and quotes Randy Bass on the need for “middle spaces” in the scholarship of teaching and learning. The article also mentions CNDLS’ Digital Story Multimedia Archive.

For more information on the conference, visit the ISSOTL ’09 website.

Digital Commons Podcast on Electronic Portfolios

CNDLS’ Digital Commons team has just released the first in a new series of podcasts that will explore uses of digital tools in Georgetown classrooms. In this conversation, Professors Michael Coventry and Jeanine Turner discuss how they’re experimenting with portfolio blogs in the Communication, Culture, and Technology graduate program.  Visit the Digital Commons Labs blog to find out more and listen to the conversation.

Georgetown Faculty Invited to “Meaningful Outcomes” workshop at AU

Georgetown faculty are invited to join colleagues at American University for a workshop with Dr. Fletcher McClellan (Elizabethtown College) on Friday, October 30th. The workshop will focus on the value of student learning assessment and key elements of the assessment process. Geared specifically toward faculty in political science, international affairs and related departments, Dr. McClellan’s presentation will include models of meaningful program assessment and discussion of assessment as it relates specifically to the disciplines of government and political science.

As department chair, Associate Dean of Faculty, and Interim Provost at Elizabethtown College, Dr. McClellan has led the College’s assessment efforts at the program and institutional levels. He has presented papers and workshops on assessment at national conferences in political science and higher education administration. In addition to his work in teaching and learning, his research focuses on the American presidency, the politics of administration, and U.S. government policy toward Native Americans.

The workshop will be held Friday, October 30, 2009. Registration and coffee: 9:30-10:00 am. Formal program: 10 am- noon. Lunch and informal discussions: noon-1 pm.  The workshop will take place at American University’s Mary Graydon Center, Room 4.  Directions to AU and campus maps can be found here.

The program (including lunch) is free for Georgetown faculty.  Space is limited, so please RSVP by 12:00pm on October 26th to Mindy McWilliams at CNDLS.

Coming This Spring: MAALLT-SEALLT Conference on “Our Changing Environments: Cultivating New Spaces, Tools, and Ideas in Language Learning”

In the following post, CNDLS’ Peter Janssens (Assistant Director for Instructional Resources) and Susan Pennestri (Instructional Coordinator and Language Learning Lab Director) share some news about an exciting conference coming to Georgetown in March.

In recent years, CNDLS has taken a leadership role in the regional language learning technologists community. Gorky Cruz and Susan Pennestri are Board members of the Mid-Atlantic Association for Language Learning Technologies (MAALLT) and Peter Janssens is the association’s president.  Next spring, we are taking our involvement one step further by hosting a language learning technology conference on the Georgetown campus! The event will take place at the end of spring break, from March 10 to 13, 2010. Together with our sister association for the Southeast (SEALLT), we are inviting current and future language teachers, lab managers, and instructional designers to share ideas around the theme Our Changing Environments: Cultivating New Spaces, Tools, and Ideas in Language Learning.

CNDLS staff and Georgetown FLL faculty will have a strong involvement in the event, which features Randy Bass as a keynote speaker. But we are reaching out to the entire region, from Maryland to Florida, from the District to Kentucky – and even to our colleagues on Georgetown’s Doha, Qatar campus.

Events will include pre-conference workshops showcasing CNDLS’ latest resources and research on learning technologies  as well as faculty presentations, round tables, poster sessions, and vendor exhibits. We are also coordinating and developing synergies with the 2010 Georgetown University Round Table (GURT) conference, which will draw linguists and foreign language professionals from around the world to Georgetown during the same time. We expect the MAALLT-SEALLT 2010 conference to be a great opportunity for language teaching and technology professionals to connect with each other and with CNDLS.

AT workshop tomorrow on “Designing Assignments with Information Fluency”

Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10:15, CNDLS’ Janet Russell, with staff members from Gelardin, Lauinger, Blommer, and Dahlgren libraries, will facilitate a new Apprenticeship in Teaching workshop, “Designing Assignments with Information Fluency.”  It will be held in Lauinger 158. This workshop will focus on creating assignments that require students to engage in course subject matter in ways that develop their library research skills, habits of thinking and of practice.

For information on other upcoming workshops, or to register for workshops, visit the AT workshop page.

Georgetown Digital Commons Update: Fall 2009 Blogs and Wikis

Here’s an update on Georgetown Digital Commons blogs and wikis from Anna Kruse:

These fall months mark the fifth semester we’ve offered WordPress blogs through the Georgetown Digital Commons.  Beginning modestly in fall 2007 with a dozen course blogs and 23 course blogs at the beginning of the following semester, we’ve already overseen the setup of 74 course blogs this semester– only four weeks in.  Other numbers for the fall semester include the creation of over 250 portfolio blogs, some requested independently by students and some requested in bulk by professors requiring their students to develop online portfolios.

We offered (and continue to offer) MediaWiki wikis, but this semester we’ve launched the Georgetown Digital Commons’ installation of Wikispaces, a more intuitive wiki software that I briefly wrote about in June.  It has proven popular already, with 15 courses (and a handful of groups and scholars) using the software during its inaugural semester.

Check out the Georgetown Digital Commons “Get Ideas” page for examples of blogs and wikis in action.