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Voices of the Global Community

Kathy Earwood, 2015 Assessment Institute Scholarship Recipient

Kathy Earwood.jpgAssessment is a word not many like to think about, correct?  Actually, assessment can be fun when it is done right!  This is what I found when attending the Assessment of Academic Advising Institute for a week in March of 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  Of course, Orlando was an awesome place to be during the winter.  The hotel we stayed at was beautiful and conveniently near many places.   The hotel is situated on International Drive, which is the best place to be while in Orlando.  A Trolly makes moving about so easy and convenient.  There are numerous eateries and large shopping outlets both north and south of the hotel. Sea World, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove are all nearby.

AI class.jpgOur classes during the Assessment Institute were intense, long, and wonderful.  The faculty teaching the classes made the journey interesting.  We had lectures, then took a hands-on approach toward assessment in our small groups.  We left at the end of the week with a tangible plan to bring back to our institution to build upon and implement what we had learned.  Yes, I have begun the process and will complete it within the next year.

AI chart.jpgWhen I attended the Assessment Institute, I had no idea what assessment was.  I came with a clean piece of paper and an open mind.  I wanted to learn as much as possible and delve deeper into assessment.  I learned that assessment must have tools that will show validity and reliability.   Assessment and statistical analysis are the driving forces to getting funding, improving programs, obtaining more employees, and showing we are making a difference in our Institutions.   The buzz words on college campuses today are retention, progression, and graduation (RPG).  If assessment shows that we have made an impact on students and RPG, we will be invaluable to our Institutions.  Funding for colleges is changing from just having students on our campuses to needing a positive trend in keeping these students, seeing them progress to senior level students, and increasing graduation rates.  Assessment in academic programs will help to see if this is happening on our campuses and, if not, where there is a need for improvement. 

To begin, we need to find an assessment that is viable, meaning it is measuring what needs to be measured.  That is why it is important to develop and design a great assessment tool.  That being said, I am still in the design phase.  To be honest, one reason is that assessment seems to take a back seat to all other projects, assignments, and duties in the office.  Summer is impacted by orientations and getting new students registered for the upcoming fall and this year we had a larger than usual number of orientations and student admissions.  With the beginning of fall we are hitting the ground running working with students and figuring out which fires to put out first.  Our campus is no different than any other campus.   I guess I think about assessment in terms of Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”   Yes, I will need several tomorrows to get this task going and that gives me purpose to come to work and complete the important work in both advising and in assessment.  It will be so much fun when I see the numbers and the tangibles of our advising area, the impact advising has made with the students, and if we are doing as good of a job as we think we are.  However, my goals are to get the design phase completed by fall semester and begin having our assessment available for student feedback in spring 2016 to have tangible data.  So that is what gets me through the rigors of working an administrative position in academia.  There is more to be done than can be accomplished in one single day; however, the assessment will show us if we are doing a great job, or show us where we need improvements. 

Every single department needs to undergo assessment.  Assessment keeps us from complacency.  The students we serve deserve for us to be the best in the academic arena.  They deserve an office that keeps up with current trends in higher education.  We expect our students to continue learning and striving for the best, so it is just as important for administration and academic advisors to continue learning and striving to be the best for the students we serve.  The one way for academia to measure our progress is to continue to assess all the models used on the college campus. 

If you do not know about assessment, the tools needed, and feel that this would be a valuable resource for you, I would encourage you to attend the Assessment Institute.  You will leave with tools in your assessment tool box that will serve you for years to come.  You, your institution, and your students would benefit greatly by attending an Assessment Institute.

Kathy Earwood
Director of Advising
Kennesaw State University
kearwood@kennesaw.edu

Earwood AI Small Group.jpgCite this article using APA style as: Earwood, K. (2015, December). The importance of the assessment institute. Academic Advising Today, 38(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]

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