February 1, 2012

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COUNCIL ON ACADEMIC ASSESSMENT (CAA)
DRAFT MINUTES, FEBRUARY 1, 2012
UNH 306, 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
Members present: Adrian Masters (Chair), Janelle Adsit, Sue Faerman, Janine Jurkowski, Ilka
Kressner, Toni Naccarato, Greg Nowell, Sean Rafferty, Christy Smith, Bruce Szelest, Kevin
Williams
Members absent: Gregory Albert, Deborah Bernnard, Jess Braunstein, Amanda Farsace, Brian
Stephenson
1. Call to order.
2. The minutes of the December 12th 2011 meeting were reviewed and approved with minor
copy-editing corrections.
3. Chairs’ Reports
a. CAA (Adrian Masters). The Chair discussed some Senate business regarding
selection of the presidential search committee and informed the committee that he
was able to reconvene the 2010-2011 Academic Program Review Committee to
complete their evaluations of two more program reviews – Music and Africana
Studies. The committee was informed of the resignation of CAA member and
GEAC Chair, Rich Matyi, effective immediately, and the need for a new chair
was noted so that the Committee can proceed with its business for the year.
b. PRC (Sean Rafferty). The PRC Chair thanked the CAA Chair for facilitating the
completion of last year’s business. The next PRC meeting is planned for February
23rd, at which time it will take up its evaluation of the Public Administration
program review. [N.B. That meeting has since been delayed until March.]
c. GEAC. In the absence of the Chair, and since the Committee has not met since
December 2nd, the Director of Assessment briefly reviewed the December 2nd
meeting again.
4. Director’s Report (Joel Bloom). The Director updated the Council on the progress of the
three upcoming program reviews (Political Science, Anthropology and Art), as well as
this year’s general education assessments (Natural Sciences in the Fall, Social Sciences in
the Spring). He noted that he is recusing himself from the Political Science review as he
is married to the Department Chair. The Chair again asked about the status of CNSE and
the Director was asked to contact their assessment liaison, Dan White.
5. Old Business: none.
6. New Business
a. The PRC report on the Music program review was approved with a minor
substantive revision.
b. The PRC report on the Africana Studies program review was approved with
minor non-substantive revisions.
c. Two documents (appended) on the student learning outcomes assessment process
were discussed – one from the Chair and one from the Director of Assessment.
No agreement was reached and both matters were tabled for a future meeting.
7. Adjournment: Next meeting on February 29th at 8:30 AM.
Draft Proposal
CAA Role in reviewing department-level student learning outcomes and assessment
February 1, 2012
Background:
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Each year, each school or college at the University at Albany submits a student learning outcome
assessment report (subsequently “SLO Report”) to the Director of Assessment (DA), as required by
the Provost. These reports include up-to-date information on each department’s assessment
plans, activities and results. The DA then writes up department-level response reports and
college-level reports with comments and suggestions for ways in which they could improve their
assessment procedures or to recognize when best practices are being followed.
In the past these SLO Reports have been shared with the Council on Academic Assessment (CAA),
but no formal structure or procedural guidelines currently exist to guide the CAA in determining
what they might do with these reports.
Issues:
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While it is advantageous for the CAA to have a role in reviewing the SLO reports, they are
produced annually by dozens of departments, making it unrealistic to expect the CAA to engage in
a formal review process of all SLO Reports on an annual basis.
At the same time, we have found that many departments don’t pay a great deal of attention to
their assessment plans except for the year of their self-study and program review, which follows a
7-year cycle. This means that, rather than implementing recommendations from their program
review throughout the 7-year cycle, many departments end up scrambling at the last minute to
make the changes recommended six years previously.
As things currently stand, there is also no clear connection between the annual SLO Reports and
the assessment component of the program reviews.
Proposal:
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In the third year after the completion of a department’s program review, the Academic Program
Review Committee (PRC) will review the assessment section of each department’s self-study,
along with related components of the external reviewer report, departmental response, and
PRC/CAA report (again, focusing on those parts of the reports that relate to the assessment plan
and assessment activities).
The PRC will then compare those portions of those reports with the SLO Reports produced since
the completion of the last program review and…
write a brief summary report with observations and recommendations for ways in which the
departments can improve their assessment plan and processes in preparation for their next
program review.
This report could then be reviewed and approved by the CAA, but this is not a necessary
component of the proposal.
Justification/Benefits – this would:
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keep the PRC/CAA workload manageable – only doing 3-6 of these each year instead of the scores
of departments that submit annual reports;
 hold departments accountable for what they agreed to in their program review at a time in the
cycle when they can still do something about it in time for their next program review instead of
trying to quickly rig something together the year of the review.
 give them a timely heads-up and reminder that they should be getting their ducks in a row for
their next review, which really isn’t as far off as it sounds.
integrate the annual SLO reporting with the 7-year program review cycle, giving it a clearer purpose and
more obvious benefit to the departments
CAA Assessment Discussion 2/1/12
What are we assessing?
 Is this just about the way we assess students or are we assessing assessment?
I.e. what are the parameters of assessment?
 What about non-assessment means of improving our teaching?
Current practice
 Departments are asked to provide learning objectives, state how and when they
are being assessed, identify specific outcomes and provide plans for the future
 This appears to have little bearing on teaching practice within departments.
Objectives are what they know they already assess and their assessment
methods are those they are already using.
 This is therefore perceived as make-work; another unfunded bureaucratic
imposition on departments
What is supposed to happen?
 The process causes introspection by units as to what their curricula should look
like. It provides a basis for how they can be improved from student performance
on assessment tools that are designed to reflect desired learning outcomes.
 Faculty believe that this is largely already being done by instructors within their
own courses.
 What evidence is there of it happening at the departmental level?
 We have to ask if this is simply record keeping for the Middle-States reaccreditation procedure.
 Even if that is true, since it has to be done can we generate something positive
out of the process?
 To do so we have to be “among the persuaders” – explain how this process can
improve teaching and learning in the university.
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