Example of Good Assessment Practice: North Carolina A&T State University
"[A culture of inquiry is] a gentle way of bringing assessment data to faculty and administrators as opposed to telling them what this means and what they should do. Instead, when you are rolling out and sharing assessment data, you present it and say 'What do you make of this?' because there may be external factors of which others are not aware."
-- North Carolina A&T Administrator
North Carolina A&T State University: A Culture of Inquiry
North Carolina A&T was selected for inclusion as a case study for NILOA due to its commitment to improving its campus by developing a "culture of inquiry"—specifically as this relates to student learning outcomes assessment activities. Three elements have been instrumental in A&T's drive to become a more data-driven institution: 1) administrative leadership that encourages discussions and collaboration around student learning outcomes assessment activities on campus; 2) the use of professional development opportunities to help foster the involvement and commitment of faculty members; and 3) the systematic and intentional use of student feedback.
Link to the full report here.
Lessons from North Carolina A&T State University
1. Creating a culture of inquiry requires the sustained involvement and commitment of avariety of stakeholders. Involving each group—administrative leaders, faculty members and, most important, students—in campus assessment activities which capture their respective interest is essential to the success of assessment efforts.
2. To move from an assessment agenda focused on accountability to one focused on improvement requires opportunities for making sense of data collaboratively through structured supportive experiences, allowing those interested in assessment to dig deeper into the results, and creating processes, policies, and pedagogies to improve student learning outcomes.
3. Reflection is a vital part of any assessment process. Time and space are needed to review accomplishments and to consider next moves forward. As an administrator stated, such reflection “helps you understand what you’ve done, how much you’ve done, and where you need to move in going forward” allowing faculty and administration to, according to one director, “not just [be] consumers of information but also producers of knowledge.”
4. A culture of inquiry requires understanding that changing institutional behavior and norms takes time and commitment from various groups through a continuous cycle of assessment and improvement at the university, department, and classroom levels.
5. Clarifying to internal and external audiences how the campus assesses student learning, what the campus learns through assessment, and why the campus takes or does not take actions based on assessment results will further buy-in and commitment to assessment processes.
North Carolina A&T State University