Excellence in Assessment (EIA) Designation

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The Excellence in Assessment (EIA) designation – the first national initiative of its kind – recognizes institutions that successfully integrate assessment practices throughout the institution, provide evidence of student learning outcomes, and use assessment results to guide institutional decision-making and improve student performance. The EIA designation’s focus is on processes and uses of assessment data, rather than on student performance or accomplishment.

Building on the foundation of reporting both student learning outcomes assessment results and processes established in the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA), the EIA designation evaluation process is directly and intentionally built from NILOA’s Transparency Framework.

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2019  Sustained Excellence Award Designee

Finger Lakes Community College

The only college designated Sustained Excellence this year, Finger Lakes Community College’s application exemplifies the focus of the EIA designation. Through its various visuals and reporting formats, FLCC works to put as much energy into meaning-making of assessment results and attractive, clear, and candid assessment communications as it does in generating assessment results to communicate what they’re doing, how well, and why. While supported by administration, assessment of student learning at FLCC is grounded in shared governance and faculty-led—including the use of faculty assessment coaches who help guide their peers in teaching and learning dialogues, the hallmark of its process. Impressively engaging and thoughtfully conceived, FLCC’s assessment process encompasses external expectations as well as the core internal/programmatic expectations—a balancing act that often does not happen at institutions.

2019  Excellence Award Designees

Bucknell University

Bucknell University’s comprehensive assessment process centers on a team of people who deeply care about student learning. Through their guidance and growth, along with elevating student voice in its assessment activities, Bucknell continues to creatively use resources and incentives in its approach to engage stakeholders and reward partnerships. An exemplar practice of transparency, the “Statistics on Our Assessment Practice” and “Evidence of Student Learning” dashboards, are two examples of Bucknell’s commitment to usefulness of student learning data.

Auburn University

Auburn University’s faculty-led assessment process is quite impressive, especially for an institution of its size. Wide stakeholder engagement was necessary for the creation and further implementation of its Quality of Assessment Rubric, along with its centralized general education efforts (known as the SCORE). Auburn’s collaborative and integrated approach to assessment was built upon its guiding philosophy as a faculty support resource on campus. Auburn’s compelling institutional research questions, intentional process of involved decision-making with faculty and staff in order to support and shift the culture of assessment, responsive nature of the assessment personnel, and the infusion of literature into practice are noteworthy in approach.

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University’s assessment approach centers on multiple forms of outreach for faculty and staff to participate and learn from one another to allow for engagement, connection, and support of its assessment activities. The Assessment Summit, an effective setting to share and use results, and the Assessment Tips weekly newsletter, a medium to share common practices within the institution, are just two examples of outreach in sharing results. Connecting its plentiful indirect measures and standardized scores to more direct measures of student learning across general education, Lindenwood is leveraging resources and opportunities for engagement to gather useful results to provide a more complete picture of student learning.

Missouri State University

Missouri State University’s thoughtful assessment process centers on a commitment to relationship-building and trust. Part of this is the effective use of college-wide meetings and workshops to communicate assessment results. A particular standout is the workshop series planned to execute strategies needed to provide useful assessment results, make meaning of such results, and brainstorm ways to effectively communicate information back to key stakeholders. The review of over 10,000 student artifacts in MSU assessment history is not only impressive, it also allows Missouri State to tell an intricate, contextual story of student experience and learning.

Sam Houston State University

As Sam Houston State University continues to build on a robust and comprehensive assessment approach, with a narrative that beautifully weaves state accountability demands with relevant questions about student learning. Using a wide variety of direct and indirect measures, SHSU is able to tell a story of students’ learning and experiences at the University and to highlight examples of how SHSU uses robust evidence of student learning and success to implement improvements ranging from policy to curricular revisions. It is clear that meaning-making of assessment results is not only important but central to SHSU’s assessment efforts.

University of Northern Iowa

University of Northern Iowa’s intentional, integrated, and transparent assessment approach involves an extensive, layered assessment plan allowing for multiple points of involvement and collaborative opportunities for discussion among faculty and staff—an important part of assessment’s value for learning. The annual set of data-based “Vitality Metrics,” produced to complement information from student learning outcomes assessment, along with a heavy emphasis in recent years on direct assessment of learning, equips faculty and staff with the knowledge of data on which decisions are made as well as the ability to use evidence of student learning to improve their own teaching and learning practice.

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2018 Excellence Award Designees

Bowie State University

The first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) EIA designee, Bowie State University’s strength lies in the widespread collection of assessment data and analysis, as well as participation in assessment activities on its campus. Assessment information and faculty development resources are readily available on its Center for Academic Programs Assessment (CAPA) and Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) websites. With Bowie State University’s ability to foster strong partnerships, engagement of internal and external stakeholders will continue to be an asset.

Harper College

Harper College’s strength of its assessment process is its focus on inclusion of a wide variety of stakeholders in substantive ways. Particularly, its engagement of advisory boards is not only practical but also a process to be replicated. Using its assessment management system to assist with the integration of multiple data sources as evidence to improve student learning on its campus is just one example of integration at Harper. Harper College’s Community of Practice is an especially compelling example of faculty engagement and support, alongside recognition of this work within the promotion and tenure process.

Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University continues to implement effective evidence-based practice into its current assessment process. Using a bottom-up approach to improve teaching practice and administrative services, Mississippi State University has done considerable work to embed assessment throughout the campus. Extensive committee engagement, integration of its learning outcomes (institution-, program/unit-, and course-level), comprehensive assessment templates, and one of its most robust practices—distributing and sharing campus-level results of student assessment—are key to its success.

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University’s intentional, reflective culture of assessment allows for clear, student-motivated, quality-driven curriculum, instruction and assessment for all key stakeholders. Northern Arizona University has found success in engaging faculty and staff in integrating multiple data sources and assessment measures in its efforts to use campus-level evidence of student learning. By putting appropriate assessment mechanisms in place, Northern Arizona University is able to attend to its diverse stakeholders and articulate meaningfulness of its assessment process, thus bringing attention to the ‘why’ of assessment.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s thoughtful approach to its assessment infrastructure to make its assessment efforts meaningful is quite impressive, especially for an institution of its size. Appropriately reflecting on its strengths and weaknesses, UNC Charlotte is well-served in terms of support and staffing for its assessment work. UNC Charlotte’s Assessment Fellows and recognition awards to committed faculty and staff promotes good assessment practice throughout the campus. Organized around the Transparency Framework, UNC Charlotte’s well-implemented assessment process assists not only in providing and using evidence to improve student learning on its campus but also in its transparency efforts.

2017 designees

2017 Sustained Excellence Award Designees

James Madison University

Faculty and staff at James Madison University have worked hard for the past two decades to develop an intentional, student learning informed, embedded approach to assessment. James Madison University has been nationally recognized for its assessment practices, most recently the “weigh pig, feed pig, weigh pig” approach to improvement. Not only has James Madison University evidenced student growth in each of its five learning clusters, it continues to see efficacy of its redesigned general education program over the last 20 years. Formal recognition of faculty and staff commitment to excellence in assessment is – for many departments – a part of the promotion and tenure process that continues to advance learning improvement on its campus. Additionally, James Madison University provides assessment support college-wide through 11 assessment professionals, over 100 faculty and 40 staff coordinators, and 15+ graduate students who serve as assessment professionals in training.

2017 Excellence Award Designees

Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University’s strength in its assessment process lies in its innovative engagement of internal and external stakeholders. Particularly, the development of “Student Learning Analysts” on campus serves as a creative model of student engagement others may replicate. Bowling Green State University’s thoughtful approach to assessment emphasizes the need for cross-campus committee membership, providing space for reviewing data with multiple stakeholders, and sharing and communicating data with a variety of groups. Educating nearly 20,000 students annually, Bowling Green State University continues to strategically use evidence to guide decision-making.

Middlesex Community College

Middlesex Community College’s culture of assessment includes a well–scaffolded assessment infrastructure of shared expectations and alignment of student learning at its institutional, program, and course levels. Campus-wide commitment to assessment is found in Middlesex Community College’s shared governance structure in developing and assessing its six institutional learning outcomes. Documenting the impact of curricular changes, intentional engagement of faculty, key stakeholders, and students throughout its assessment process, integrating co-curricular learning, and availability of campus assessment resources provide evidence of Middlesex Community College’s commitment to excellence in assessment. Over the past two decades,

Rio Salado College

Rio Salado College has worked hard to refine, align and integrate its Total Quality Management Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle campus-wide. Serving over 55,000 students annually and more than 27,000 students online, Rio Salado College continues to foster a culture of assessment on its campus with a commitment to meaningful assessment. Rio Salado College has developed a model that facilitates intentional collaboration between full-time and adjunct faculty in relation to assessment of student learning on campus. For students, Rio Salado College offers the Student Learning Outcomes Work Lab (OWL), which helps facilitate mastery of its five college-level learning outcomes. Integrating assessment data into its strategic plan and the recent development of its home-grown Assessment Data Display supports efforts in making evidence of campus-level learning transparent.

Southern Connecticut State University

Southern Connecticut State University’s use of evidence of student learning from a variety of assessment methods provides a big picture of learning on its campus. Wide stakeholder engagement, use of data analytics, student involvement in survey development, and robust examples of rubric development support its inquiry-driven assessment and institutional effectiveness work. Integration of various programs and activities, including participating in several national and even international initiatives, creates innovative assessment practice and better supports student learning on Southern Connecticut State University’s campus.

2016 designees

2016 Sustained Excellence Award Designees

Community College of Baltimore County

The goal of assessment at CCBC is to ensure the best conditions for learning, encourage best practices, and inspire creativity and innovation. CCBC has been lauded for its work in assessment and has been a national leader in assessment of student learning for many years. Nationally recognized as a leader in innovative strategies, CCBC educates more than 65,000 learners yearly, enrolling more than any other two-year college in Maryland.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

IUPUI was an early adopter of assessment for improvement and accountability and has cultivated a campus ethos of transparency. In the 1990s, IUPUI adopted the Principles of Undergraduate Learning (PULs), which centered on learning, ways of knowing, and habits of mind. IUPUI is currently implementing a new strategic plan, Our Commitment to Indiana and Beyond, that reaffirms student learning and success as its highest institutional priority. Assessment thrives on a campus committed to using evidence-based practice in both undergraduate and graduate/professional education and to building and sustaining assessment capacity through professional development.

Kansas State University

Kansas State University’s approach to assessment emphasizes faculty ownership, which is considered the foundation upon which institutional assessment efforts are built. Ownership and broad levels of involvement are the foundation supporting the assessment culture developed at Kansas State. Academic programs use their assessment processes to update curricula and improve student learning and the Office of Assessment supports faculty and fulfills external reporting obligations. Kansas State’s university-wide assessment culture is focused on improved learning within disciplines. Kansas State’s assessment systems have led to many substantial changes including instructional and curricular adjustments, clarification of expected learning, and deeper analysis of the campus-wide experience.

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Since 1998, Rose-Hulman has had a well-established set of campus-level student learning outcomes statements and a comprehensive campus-level assessment plan. For the past two decades, assessment experts in the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment have collaborated with faculty and student affairs staff to collect meaningful assessment data. They continuously engage in meaningful discussions about the state of campus-level outcomes assessment and areas of improvement to further their efforts. Their outcomes align with the institutional mission and describe the knowledge, skills, and attitudes expected of their graduates. Rose-Hulman is currently in the process of revamping their entire campus online infrastructure to further enhance their ability to communicate with both internal and external stakeholders.

2016 Excellence Award Designees

Cameron University

Cameron University has various processes in place to ensure student learning is the top priority. To meet the needs of students, it continually evaluates the quality of programs to determine whether changes are warranted. Over the last 20 years, Cameron University has documented an extensive commitment to assessment and enjoyed a campus-wide commitment to the assessment process. Positive student learning outcomes, engagement in, monitoring of, and compiling of assessment results at both the program- and campus-level are their signature accomplishments.

Capella University

Since 2002, Capella University has offered degree and certificate programs through an online learning-outcomes and competency-based curriculum, catering to its student population – non-traditional adult learners with an academic experience relevant to their personal and professional goals. Capella’s assessment efforts are hallmarked by an emphasis on continuous improvement that demonstrates an assessment approach across the university community. The university created Competency Map, a custom dashboard for learners and faculty that shows course competency assessment in real time. And in 2009, Capella launched the public website CapellaResults.com to document each program’s expected and demonstrated learning outcomes and to provide transparency of their graduates’ professional accomplishments.

Mills College

Mills College has been exceptionally active in assessing student learning. The broad representation of the college’s Assessment Committee provides the support and guidance that has enabled it to create a cohesive strategy for its learning assessment program. Mills’s assessment program uses many lenses through which student learning is assessed — from the level of institution-wide learning, to core programs, to each of their many academic and co-curricular programs. The college purchased a sophisticated software program allowing them to not only centralize all assessment components, but to align the learning goals of each to create a visual means of targeting assessment processes at the institutional level. Mills College is interested in and committed to learning as an institution about the methodology of collecting and analyzing data on learning. It’s also focused on designing and implementing a sophisticated and sustainable framework for putting that evidence to use.

Mount St. Joseph University

Mount St. Joseph’s has been engaged in formal assessment for over 20 years and has developed a culture of assessment that covers all areas of student learning, both curricular and extra-curricular. Development of this culture has led to demonstrated improvement in curricular design, learning outcomes, and student experiences — supported by institutional leadership with significant investments of time and resources. The university’s pathway to excellence in assessment includes appointing a faculty member as Assessment Coordinator, the creation of an Academic Assessment Committee, the initiation of curriculum mapping at the program and baccalaureate levels, and the creation of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Effects of their work are evidenced in the amount of faculty engaged, with at least one-fourth of their faculty presenting or publishing research on assessment.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

High-impact practices and student engagement are at the core of what UW-Madison refers to as the Wisconsin Experience, where they aspire to provide a learning environment that produces graduates who think beyond the conventional wisdom; are creative problem-solvers who know how to integrate passion with empirical analysis; know how to seek out, evaluate, and create new knowledge and technologies; adapt to new situations; and are engaged citizens of the world. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has had formal assessment processes in place since 1991. Since then, the institution has worked to integrate assessment into the education experience through a formalized assessment plan, an assessment fund to support specific projects, and an assessment committee of faculty and academic leaders to oversee and advance student learning. In 2008 to keep in pace with the national direction of assessment, UW-Madison adopted the Essential Learning Outcomes promulgated by AAC&U as overarching learning goals for their undergraduate program. Since 2014, they have made documented progress and are currently in the second year of a three-year project to collect learning goals and assessment plans from every academic program, and then establish a reporting and renewal cycle with nearly 100 percent participation by academic programs at all levels.

Zayed University

Zayed University is an international learning outcomes-based institution that has established a set of institutional and major learning outcome statements. They continue to assess student learning in a systematic and sustained manner by constantly working towards effectively closing the loop. Regular professional development activities highlight key aspects of their assessment process. They have also been successful at providing ongoing improvement over the years that has been removing barriers and providing faculty with tools to facilitate effective planning, collection, analysis, and reporting of assessment results. Their commitment to good assessment practices have led them to post all of their annual assessment plans and reports on their website.

Important Deadlines

The application process for the 2019 EIA Designation is now closed. 2019 EIA designees will be announced on August 19 and the application packet for EIA 2020 will be released in December 2019.

  • Application Deadline: May 1, 2020
  • Applications notified of EMBARGOED Designation results: July 31, 2020
  • Public announcement of designees: August 19, 2020

EIA Evaluation Process

Evaluation for the designation includes a rigorous and systematic self-study and peer review by assessment experts. If you are interested in applying for the 2020 EIA Designation, you can review the 2019 application packet to help you prepare. You may also view the 2019 Evaluation Rubric used by reviewers to get a sense of the criteria used to evaluate Designees.

Designees are awarded in two tiers: 1) Excellence, for those institutions demonstrating strong leadership and commitment to building (or re-building) a culture of integrated assessment practices; and 2) Sustained Excellence, for those institutions who have sustained or evolved integrated institution-level assessment over a period of at least 5 years. 

Additional Resources

Sandra Bailey
Professor, Management
Director of Academic Excellence
Oregon Institute of Technology
Year: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Laura Blasi
Director, Institutional Assessment
Valencia College
Year: 2017, 2018, 2019

Lea Bullard
Assistant Director, General Education Assessment
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Year: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Tim Burrows
Assistant Director of Assessment
Virginia Military Institute
Year: 2017, 2018, 2019
Cindy Cogswell
Director of Strategic Planning and Assessment
Ohio University
Year: 2019

Nicholas Curtis
Director of Assessment
Marquette University
Year: 2019

Marjorie Dorimé-Williams
Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis
University of Missouri
Year: 2019
Linell Edwards
Coordinator of Assessment & Evaluation
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Year: 2019

Angela Felix
Faculty Chair, Languages
Rio Salado College
Year: 2018, 2019

Ashley Finley
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean for the Dominican Experience
Dominican University of California
Year: 2016, 2017, 2019
Jodi Fisler
Associate for Assessment Policy and Analysis
State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
Year: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Mary Kay Fleming
Professor, Department of Psychology
Mount St. Joseph University
Year: 2017, 2018
Keston Fulcher
Director of the Center for Assessment and Research Studies
Associate Professor, Graduate Psychology
James Madison University
Year: 2016, 2017, 2018
Laura Gambino
Associate Dean for Assessment and Technology
Professor, Information Technology
Stella and Charles Guttman Community College
Year: 2016, 2017, 2018
Jeff Grann
Academic Director of Assessment and Learning Analytics
Capella University
Year: 2017
Rebecca Hong
Senior Director of Educational Effectiveness and Assessment
Loyola Marymount University
Year: 2019
Pat Hutchings
NILOA Senior Scholar
Year: 2019
Jillian Kinzie
Associate Director, Center for Postsecondary Research & NSSE Institute
Indiana University
Year: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Ross Markle
Founder, Managing Director
DIA Higher Education Collaborators
Year: 2019
Elise Martin
(Retired) Dean of Assessment and Professional Development
Middlesex Community College
Year: 2016, 2017
Julia Matuga
Associate Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness
Bowling Green State University
Year: 2016, 2017, 2018
Brad Mello
Associate Professor, Chair, Communications
Saint Xavier University
Year: 2019
Rose Mince
Vice President, Academic and Student Affairs
Carroll Community College
Year: 2017, 2018, 2019
Brandon Nichols
District Director of Accreditation, Assessment, and Educational Development District Office
City Colleges of Chicago
Year: 2019
Verna Orr
Post-Doctoral Researcher
NILOA
Year: 2019
Judith Ouimet
Senior Assistant Vice Provost, Curricular Development and Assessment
Indiana University Bloomington
Year: 2016, 2018
Trevor Parry-Giles
Professor, Department of Communication
Director of Academic and Professional Affairs
National Communication Association
Year: 2016, 2017, 2018
Loraine Phillips
Association Provost for Academic Effectiveness
Georgia Tech
Year: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Nancy Quam-Wickham
Professor of History
California State University, Long Beach
Year: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Rita Rahoi Gilchrest
Professor, Communication Studies
(Interim) Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts
Year: 2016, 2018, 2019
Lee Rakes
Director of Assessment & Evaluation
Virginia Military Institute
Year: 2016
Tony Ribera
Director of Assessment
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Year: 2017, 2018, 2019
Stacy Sculthorp
Lead Assessment Specialist
Capella University
Year: 2018, 2019
Linda Siefert
Director of General Educational Assessment
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Year: 2016, 2017
Martha Stassen
Assistant Provost, Assessment and Educational Effectiveness
University of Massachusetts
Year: 2016, 2017
Linda Townsend
Director of Assessment
Longwood University
Year: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Ereka Williams
Associate Professor
Administration and Instructional Services
Year: 2017, 2018

For further information on the EIA Designation and application process, you can view a recording of a webinar Recognizing Excellence in Campus Assessment: Using the Excellence in Assessment Designation for Self-Assessment. You can also view a PDF version of the webinar.

To learn more about the purpose and overview of the EIA Designation, please contact Dr. Gianina Baker who coordinates the review process:  baker44@illinois.edu.

The Excellence in Assessment Designation is co-sponsored by the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA), the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).