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COBE economics professor published in Virginia Economic Journal

To Nozar Hashemzadeh, teaching students and assessing the effectiveness of a university academic department is much like cooking a meal.

There's some trial and error in creating the optimal higher education learning environment to suit everyone's taste.

"You start with the raw ingredients. You put a little spice in it and you serve it and some people don't like it and you go back and say, 'this is too salty or too hot,'" said the Radford University College of Business and Economics professor, explaining the teaching and program assessment process in colorful culinary colloquialisms. "And so you need to change the ingredients to make it appealing. And that's what we should be doing."

Hashemzadeh has been teaching economics at RU since 1983 – "I'm the old dog around here," he joked. He has plenty of experience in the higher education environment and, over the years, has developed a number of philosophies about how to improve the way professors teach, the way students learn and how professors and administrators can assess feedback from students to improve the process.

Dr. Nozar Hashemzadeh, Professor of Economics

Dr. Nozar Hashemzadeh, Professor of Economics

Hashemzadeh and RU alumnus Ernie Wade '84, an associate professor of economics at Central Virginia Community College, recently published the article, "Assessment Measures that are Effective in Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Economics Programs," which aims to expand the dialogue about college and university course evaluations.

The article was published in the Virginia Economic Journal, which is produced annually by the Virginia Association of Economists.

In the text, Hasemzadeh and Wade also "examine some of the more meaningful techniques that have been introduced by researchers to systematically assess students' learning outcomes."

Hashemzadeh said he'd prefer to see a "360-degree" structure where assessments are conducted by department chairs, professors and a selected body of students. "The information that is gleaned from the assessments is scrutinized and refined and then passed to the department chair," Hashemzadeh said in providing a synopsis of the article. "We'll look at the student feedback and find what it is we need to do in order to strengthen the learning experience."

Prahlad Kasturi, chair of RU's Department of Economics is confident Hashemzadeh's research and examination of the assessment process will benefit the department going forward.

"Dr. Hashemzadeh has done much assessment-related work both as faculty member and former chair," Kasturi said. "I am sure his and Ernie's research will help us in our assessment work not only in the department at RU, but also other institutions within the Commonwealth of Virginia and other schools across the United States."

Feb 19, 2014