Notes from Meeting of

16 April 2010



The eighth meeting of the University Assessment Panel (UAP) was held on Friday, 16 April 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in Altgeld 203.




This is the last UAP meeting of the 2009–2010 academic year. All panel members were thanked for their attendance and service.


Assessment Plan and Status Report from University Honors Program


Daniel Kempton and Jes Cisneros were present to discuss the assessment plan for the University Honors Program. Although a detailed plan was developed in 2001, there have been two changes in leadership since then, so the current plan is one that has been developed over the course of this academic year. Kempton explained that students participate in honors work by being part of an honors section or by writing a contract for extra activity while enrolled in a regular section. As seniors, all honors students write a capstone report on their culminating project. Assessment tools need to measure all of these activities. Beyond student surveys of their experiences, several suggestions were made for incorporating direct assessment methods that include faculty evaluation of students’ attainment of learning goals; some of these would have the added benefit of clearly articulating to faculty the goals that the honors program has set for participating students. Suggestions were also made for coordinating and seeking funding for an outside review of the assessment plan and its implementation in the next year or two.


Funding Requests


The Department of Management submitted additional information that addressed questions that the UAP had raised about a funding request last November. The panel thought the questions had been addressed, and the current funding request of up to $1,500.00 was approved.


Judicial Affairs submitted a funding request to cover an external review on April 1–2, which followed an internal review that was completed over the winter. The request covered both the consultation fee of $5,000.00 and associated travel costs of $619.30. The panel approved funding for the non-consultative costs only, up to $619.30.


Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA)


Will Boelcke gave an overview of the VSA, and its online report, which is called the College Portrait. This national initiative is intended for institutions in the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). There are now about 360 participating institutions, which represents over 60% of those eligible. The College Portrait is a tool to help students search for a school that fits their needs. The portrait for each school presents in a standard format data that are intended to be transparent, comparable, and understandable. NIU posted its first data last October, and development has continued over the year. Only the required data pages were presented at this meeting, because of time constraints; sample pages for the nine institution-chosen themes will be presented at a UAP meeting next fall. Because VSA is now up and running at NIU, the ad hoc advisory committee that oversaw its development has been disbanded, and future developments will be monitored through UAP.


University Writing Project Presentation


Ellen Franklin gave a history of the University Writing Project and the team of readers that evaluates the compositions that are submitted each year. The team has worked together for many years, and they have developed techniques for calibrating their evaluations to keep their inter-rater reliability very high. For the past three years, the writing project has used course-embedded writing assignments so that class time is not diverted to accommodate this activity. The rubric was revised to a three-point system from a six-point system, although the evaluation criteria remained essentially the same. To help faculty understand the process better, it was suggested that for the 2010 review of essays Franklin provide the Office of Assessment Services with good and not-so-good writing examples that can be shared with faculty . Also, it was noted that good directions and themes help produce good compositions: a second follow-up activity is to develop a resource giving faculty  tips to stimulate good writing. Finally, descriptions of the dimensions on the rubric will be expanded to assist faculty in its use with the writing assignments in their courses. An invitation was extended to Franklin to return next year to discuss the First Year Composition project.




The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m. The panel will reconvene next autumn.



U\Assessment\UAP\2009-2010\Notes\Notes 4-16-10.doc