Campus Assessment Network (CAN)

Notes from meeting of

March 31, 2009


The fourth meeting of the Campus Assessment Network (CAN) in FY 2009 was held Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. in Campus Life 115.





Swanson opened the meeting with welcome and introductions. One new member was introduced -- Bob Beatty, Associate Professor in the College of Business   

Susan Hatfield conducted two workshops at NIU on March 20th. The morning workshop, entitled Leave No Outcome Behind: Teaching, Learning and Assessment, focused on the importance of emphasizing the improvement of student learning while creating a campus culture of assessment.

The afternoon workshop, entitled Getting Students Involved in Assessment, looked at engaging students in the assessment process.  The power points from these workshops are available through the Office of Assessment Services (OAS) (  or 753-8659).


Expo Evaluations


Swanson handed out a summary of the evaluation form feedback from the 2009 Assessment Expo, which was held on February 20th.  This year the format included poster presentation and roundtable discussions on four assessment topics: use of rubrics, using multiple measures, innovative technology and closing the assessment loop. The posters can be viewed at the OAS website at The feedback was generally positive, although a number of participants indicated they wanted more time for the round table discussions.

Participants indicated a very strong interest in rubrics and multiple measures and some wanted more samples of rubrics available on the OAS website. These can be found in the new Assessment Manual.



Assessment Manual


Assessment Services has introduced a new resource for assessment at NIU. The Assessment Manual, an extensive online reference, is a resource for anyone on campus who is seeking information about aspects of assessing student learning outcomes. The manual contains nine chapters which are easy to navigate. A brief overview of each chapter was provided:



  • Overview: An overview of the components and goals of assessment.


  • NIU Assessment Past, Present, Future:  Includes discussion of assessment projects at NIU.


  • Good Practice:   Presents studies, guidelines, best practices and ethics.


  • Getting Involved-Campus Wide Assessment:  Discusses faculty, staff and student involvement, and the benefits of assessment to each of these groups.


  • Implementation: Presents in depth information about how to do assessment. Includes guidelines and examples for each component of the assessment process, such as, how to write an assessment plan or mission/purpose statement. Information to help develop and implement learning outcomes and the NIU methods matrix which was developed to help NIU faculty and staff share assessment knowledge. The matrix shows what methods are in use across campus and who is using which methods. This chapter also provides information on using rubrics, links to examples of rubrics, using results, reporting, and additional resources.


  • Special Topics-Diversity, Disabilities, Distance Learning:  An overview of assessment with consideration of differing needs and situations.


  • History of Assessment- An overview of the history of assessment in education.


  • Other Resources:  Includes information about and links to accrediting bodies, handbooks, publications, rubrics and glossaries.


  • Glossary: Defines terms frequently used in assessment at NIU


Douglass noted that this is a living document which is expected to continually evolve, as new resources are found they will be added. Suggestions and contributions are encouraged. We would like to start collecting publications from NIU faculty and staff on assessment topics.



Campus Assessment Message


A subcommittee has been working on assessment messages targeted at four groups; faculty, administrators, students, and community partners. The message content has been developed and Media Services is developing graphics.  The final images can be used for posters, web pages, and any other message medium, and will be made available on the OAS website.


Q&A Session for Annual Assessment Updates


The second portion of the meeting was a question and answer session for the annual assessment update reports.  These reports are due for each academic program annually.  These reports keep units actively reporting their assessment activities and help NIU stay aware of what is going on for accreditation purposes.


 A reminder letter went out in March and the reports are due to be submitted by June 1. Each unit is required to report on two assessment methods that were implemented in the 2008-2009 academic year. A form and an example are available on the OAS website at OAS reviews the reports and provides feedback for each program.


 There are four areas of information required on the report form. In the first section, methods should be listed with a brief description. In section 2, learning outcomes which were measured by these methods should be listed. The third section, Evidence, should describe the results obtained from the assessment method. The fourth section should describe how the results were used for program improvement.  Additionally copies of tools used to implement the method, such as rubrics or surveys, should be included with the report.


The following topics were also discussed in the session:

  • Triangulation, or multiple measures of a single learning outcome are not required, but it is good practice. Multiple measures should include at least one direct measure and ideally an external measure.
  • Examples of external measures: employer survey, advisory committees, external reviews of student performance (i.e. internship evaluations, CEET Senior Design Day).
  • Survey responses are typically low and one year’s data may be insufficient to base program changes on. However, surveys repeated over several years can provide a good indicator for assessment.
  • Outcome targets need to be provided and referred to in the results sections. Evidence needs to be tied to specific outcomes and sufficient detail should be provided for the evidence.


Further questions on the Annual Assessment Update Reports can be addressed to Carolinda Douglass at or 753-8659.


CAN members who have an assessment practice they would like to share or get feedback on are encouraged to contact Carolinda Douglass at 


An announcement will be sent out when the next meeting has been scheduled.