Campus Assessment Network (CAN)

Notes from meeting of

July 16, 2008


The eleventh meeting of the Campus Assessment Network (CAN) was held Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. in Campus Life 115.


Members present:

Greg Long (Allied Health & Communicative Disorders), Carolinda Douglass, Karyn Higgs, Amy Swanson (Assessment Services), Sonja Herington (College of Business), Cassandra Maxwell-Simmons (College of Engineering),  Mary Pritchard (College of Health & Human Sciences),  Dan House (Institutional Research), Sandi Carlisle (Recreation Services), Michael Stang (Residential Life, Housing & Dining), Amy Franklin (Student Affairs), Carrie Zack (University Office of Teacher Certification)




Douglass announced upcoming assessment events:


  • Linda Suskie will hold two workshops on September 12 in the HSC Capitol Room. The first workshop, “Accountability Pressures and Their Impact on Regional Accreditation” will be from 8:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m., and the second “Understanding and Using Assessment Results will be from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m..
  • Susan Hatfield will hold a workshop on March 20, 2009 from 8:00 a.m..
  • The 2009 Assessment Expo has been scheduled for February 20, 2009 and will be held in the HSC Sky Room.


Further details and information about registering for these events will be forthcoming.


Blackboard Community


A Blackboard community called the Campus Assessment Community has been created and will soon be available for use. Initially the community will be setup to include all Campus Assessment Network and University Assessment Panel Members. Additional users from the NIU community can be added by sending an email to to request access. CAN & UAP members will use their Novell login ids to access the Community.


CAN members were asked to consider ways to use this tool to benefit the assessment community at NIU and the following suggestions were given:


1)      Have Jason Rode from FDIDC come to the next CAN meeting to give a tutorial on using the Blackboard community.

2)      Post Bio’s of people in the assessment community.

3)      Post links to resources such as department websites, Toolkit, Assessment Forms.

4)      Generate discussion- put out ideas for feedback.

5)      Put out some initial discussion threads to get people used to using the community. In Blackboard courses, professors often initiate the first 5-10 threads and it takes off from there.



Focus Group Update


Analysis continues on data from the focus groups conducted in spring semester to assess student knowledge about assessment and student learning. Coding of the transcripts is almost complete.


Update on CHHS Pilot for Annual Updates


The pilot for using Blackboard as a submission format for annual assessment update reports for the CHHS went fairly well with only a few workflow issues. A new version of Blackboard will be implemented in December and will have additional features that will facilitate the process. OAS plans to ask CHHS to participate next year to pilot the updated system and may seek the participation of an additional college.


Planning for Next Year’s Meetings:


A number of early CAN meetings featured presentations by members on assessment practices in their area. Feedback indicates that some members would like to incorporate more sharing and discussion of assessment practices into the meetings. It was suggested that the length of meetings be extended to two hours, in which the second half could be devoted to presentations or discussion of assessment practices. In addition to presentations, panel members could also share problems or issues they are encountering in their assessment practices and get feedback from the group. It was suggested that the Blackboard community could be utilized to post discussion topics prior to meetings.


Strategic Planning and Assessment at NIU


Six assessment goals related to the strategic planning imperatives were generated at previous meetings and initiatives and strategies were identified for pursuing these goals. See April 23rd CAN Notes for listing of goals and strategies.


 Progress on several of the strategies is summarized below:


·        Assessment Manual:


Two chapters of the Assessment Manual have been completed. OAS hopes to have the

 manual completed and available online by early fall.


·        Plan 2009 Assessment Expo:


CAN members were asked to consider ideas for possible formats, themes and topics. Suggestions included adding a roundtable session in which several topics could be presented simultaneously and participants pick which ones to attend.  Members were also asked to consider how to recruit or select speakers and poster session participants. Franklin suggested that support units submit annual reports on assessment that could be used in a similar manner to the way the annual update report was used to select academic unit participants last year. The possibility of using a nomination or application method was also proposed. Several suggestions for specific speakers were proposed.


·        Common Assessment Message Related to Culture of Learning


CAN members were asked for suggestions on a common assessment message.  Existing terminology for assessment concepts can vary by area, accrediting agency or organization. Having a common vocabulary would assist in creating a common message and greater visibility on the NIU campus. It was suggested that a glossary or ‘translation’ guide for these variations in terminology may helpful as each departments will still need to be familiar with the terminology of the organizations they work with. Members also considered whether different audiences in the NIU community (faculty, students etc.) may need different messages. It was recommended a subcommittee be formed. Simmons, Swanson, Douglass, Franklin and Zack volunteered to participate.



Other Business


Long informed the group of the Baccalaureate Goals Review Team which has undertaken a review of baccalaureate goals and outcomes. This review will involve a comprehensive process for obtaining student and alumni perceptions. The Foundations of Excellence Program, a comprehensive, externally guided self-study and improvement process for first-year students will be phased in over a two year period and will be dove tailed with the baccalaureate goals review. Stang asked if progress on these projects could be posted. A website will be created for each project which will report on progress, and a link will be made available to these sites from the Blackboard Campus Assessment Community.



The next meeting will be held on October 10, 2008 at 1:30 pm in Campus Life 115.