Radford hosts fourth annual Institutional Effectiveness Day
Radford University faculty and administrators came together on Aug. 21 for Institutional Effectiveness Day to discuss educational achievement and campus life.
The theme of the fourth annual Institutional Effectiveness Day was “Student Learning Is Our Business.”
“As we begin the fall 2017 semester, let us heed the theme of today’s workshop,” said President Brian O. Hemphill. “Their learning is more than our business – it is our passion, our mission and our calling. The Radford University faculty create opportunities in the classroom, laboratories, field and the office. Today with guidance from our guest speakers, we will have an opportunity to focus on how we help students learn and innovate.”
Adapting to the ever-changing environment of learning and business is critical, the president said. Radford University faculty teach, inspire, nurture and guide students. When departments and units assess student learning outcomes and operational outcomes, the data can improve student learning both in and outside of the classroom.
“Today, let us focus on defining how effective we can really be because this will challenge us and push us to see how effective we can be at everything that we do for this institution and explore and implement the means to reach that end,” President Hemphill said. “Let’s be cognizant of the current trends and while being aware of the future. We must be the drivers within higher education. If we aren't, someone else will be behind the wheel. Someone else will define higher education for us. Let us deepen our understanding of our students and how they achieve. With that understanding, our jobs and our passion will be rewarded.”
Julia Pet-Armacost and Robert L. Armacost were the two guest speakers at the event. Both Pet-Armacost and Armacost are recent retirees from the University of Central Florida (UCF), where they served in the engineering departments and the medical school, which they helped launch. Pet-Armacost served as director of Operational Excellence and Assessments and as assistant vice-president at UCF. Both speakers were involved with assessment and evaluation and frequently present on the matter at conferences for a variety of professional organizations.
Pet-Armacost and Armacost said that assessment and evaluation are ongoing processes where both professors and students are accountable for learning inside of a classroom.
“There is an important need for it,” Armacost said. “As we reflected on what we’ve been through, one of the things that we’ve talked about is how we would teach our courses differently today if we went back into the classroom based on what we’ve learned over the years about assessment. It’s about things that will improve your teaching and your transmission of knowledge to the students. That’s what we’re going to focus on today.”
Armacost and Pet-Armacost defined assessment as “the examination and review of evidence representing the levels of performance, accomplishment and knowledge of students. When we talk about knowledge, we are referencing desired skills, attitudes and behaviors that we want our students to have.”
Assessment itself is a neutral word, said Armacost. “It is described as data-gathering or fact-gathering that allows us to measure some levels of performance. It has two purposes. One is the notion of formative assessment that says it is focused on providing feedback focused on supporting improvement. The other is summative assessment, which is focused on evaluating or judging the level of observed performance.”
“There are different levels that assessment can take place in an institution,” Pet-Armacost added. “There are the classroom and student assessment levels, where you are collecting information about the performance of individual students and providing individualized feedback. Course assessment uses the same type of data, but you are seeing how well your course is performing in terms of the student learning outcomes.”
Graham Glynn, who took over as Radford’s Provost on July 1, stressed the importance of proper assessment aiding the student learning outcomes at Radford University.
“Assessment is not about gathering numbers – it’s not about filling out reports. It’s about trying to make what we do better every day – continuous quality improvement,” Glynn said.
Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Assessment Ebenezer Kolajo also spoke at the event. Kolajo leads the Office of Academic Assessment, which coordinates a variety of assessment initiatives on campus and offers assistance and guidance to programs and departments wishing to increase understanding through assessment.