University Assessment Panel


Notes from Meeting of

19 September 2008



The first meeting of the University Assessment Panel (UAP) was held on Friday, 19 September 2008, at 10:00 a.m. in Altgeld 203.






The Fall 2008 issue of toolkit was published in early September. Toolkit is always looking for article submissions about assessment practices at NIU. Toolkit publications are announced in Northern Today and the current issue and back issues can be found at


University Writing Project


A call for participation in the 2008-2009 Writing Project and for the submission of Capstone Course proposals will be sent out in October. Faculty is asked to participate in the writing project using existing course embedded writing assignments.


Bauer suggested that the current practice of sending letters to departments heads to forward to faculty may not be as effective as communicating more broadly or directly to faculty. It was also suggested that benefits like using the Writing Project results for departmental assessment should be emphasized, using examples and quotes. The project will also be announced in Northern Today, and OAS will see if the publication will do a story on the Writing Project. Van der Meer suggested communicating with faculty via the Writing Center.

2008 Capstone Course Proposals


Funding for development or redesign of capstone courses is available to faculty who can submit proposals to the OAS that will forward to the UAP for review and approval.  If approved, faculty will receive an initial $1500 stipend for developing/redesigning the course and $500 after they submit a report on the implementation of the capstone course.  Both graduate and undergraduate capstone course proposals may be submitted.


Assessment Expo


The second annual Assessment Expo will be held on 20 February 2009. The regular UAP meeting will not be held so panel members can attend the Expo. Last year panel members reviewed outstanding annual update reports from academic programs and selected the top ten programs who were recognized at the Expo, and who were invited to participate. This year the panel will again help select academic programs and support units to be invited to participate in the Expo by highlighting a successful assessment practice in a poster session and/or by giving a short presentation and heading a round table discussion.


Assessment Speakers


Linda Suskie recently presented two workshops at NIU on September 12th. The morning workshop, Accountability Pressures and Their Impact on Regional Accreditation, examined the increased pressures for accountability in higher education, and how the higher education community might respond. The second workshop, Understanding and Using Assessment Results, was designed to be hands-on and assist faculty and staff in improving the use of assessment results. 


Overview of the work of the panel and review of notebooks


The panel reviewed the committee notebooks. Cassidy provided the panel information about the IBHE Public Agenda which replaces the Illinois Commitment. Four goals/themes were established for the initiative, and work is now focused on developing benchmarks and indicators. The initiative is currently engaged in a period of public comments. Cassidy will forward information to the panel about what is happening and what kind of input is being sought, and facets of the agenda will be discussed by the UAP to contribute to the input the university will be providing.


Update on University Assessment Program


The 2008 University Writing Project has been completed and analysis underway. The report will be available in mid-October. Annual Update Reports for 2007-2008 have been submitted and we reached 100 percent compliance. Review of the reports is underway; a report on the findings will be available in late October.


The Campus Assessment Network (CAN) initiated the development of a Blackboard community for assessment (Campus Assessment Community). All UAP members have access to the community. The next CAN meeting will be held on 10 October from 1:30-3:30 pm. The meeting times have been extended to accommodate a forum for sharing assessment methods, tools, use of results, and assessment experiences. Sandi Carlisle will present on assessment of student leadership in Recreation Services. 


In spring 2008, 16 student focus groups were conducted to assist with efforts at increasing student involvement in responsibility for their learning and their understanding of how they are learning and why they are learning.  Analyses of these data are now underway by Douglass, Swanson, Bob Riggle and Michelle Bringas.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting is scheduled for 3 October, 2008 from 10:00-12:00 in Altgeld 203.


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