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2011 Faculty & Staff News

54 Longwood faculty and staff attend Longwood’s first assessment conference

January 19, 2011

Presentations at Longwood's First Assessment Conference
Virginia Kinman (Greenwood Library, top) and Sharon Menegoni (Department of Health, Athletic Training, Recreation and Kinesiology, bottom) were two of the presenters at Longwood’s first assessment conference.

Some 54 Longwood University faculty and staff members attended the university's first assessment conference, "Assessing Excellence: Best Practices in Assessment at Longwood and the Successes They Reveal," held Jan. 12 on campus and coordinated by the Office of Assessment and Institutional Research (OAIR).

The conference featured 12 sessions with presentations by 11 faculty members and three administrative and professional staff, welcoming remarks by Dr. Ken Perkins, interim vice president for academic affairs, and closing remarks by President Patrick Finnegan. Some 32 faculty members participated. One of the conference's tracks was "Assessment Practices That Focus on Student Learning," and the other track was "Assessment Practices That Support Institutional Effectiveness."

The conference received support from the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Longwood Printing Services, the Longwood Barnes & Noble Bookstore, and the Longwood Sustainability program, as well as proactive participation by faculty and administration in the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences.

"It's good to periodically gather people together and to reflect and share what we are doing in assessment," said Dr. Ling Whitworth, director of Assessment and Institutional Research, who hopes to make the conference an annual event. "We can all learn from each other. This conference provided an opportunity to do just that. Our goal is to develop a 'culture of evidence.' We cannot talk about accountability without presenting the evidence."

Dr. Linda Townsend, coordinator of assessment, echoed those sentiments. "This conference gave faculty and staff a chance to share their expertise, their experiences and their successes - what works and what doesn't," she said. "Many of the presenters are what I call 'shining stars' - faculty and staff who were already using effective assessment practices or who understand assessment, whether it's assessment of student learning or of what offices and programs are doing. Fortunately, even some of the 'newbies' to the assessment practice are making great strides toward learning more and using effective assessment practices."

Longwood in 2007 purchased WEAVEonline, an online assessment management system that is used by all of the university's academic degree programs and all functional units. By September 2010 all of the faculty and staff members responsible for their respective unit's assessment had been trained in using WEAVEonline to report the results. The training is coordinated by OAIR. Assessment is done annually for non-academic areas and biennially for academic programs.

In his welcome remarks at the lunch gathering, Dr. Ken Perkins thanked all attendees for participating in the conference. He urged the faculty to consider assessment as a field of scholarship and to get the students involved in assessing the learning.

"Accountability is here and will stay. We should expect more scrutiny," President Finnegan said in his closing remarks. "It is no longer acceptable to say 'We are good.' We have to document what we are doing.

"Regardless of the difference in the contents of the disciplines that we are teaching or working on, all of us share one common purpose of doing assessment. That is to find out the answers to the following questions: What have our students learned? Are we satisfied with what they've learned? If not, what are we doing about it?"

The conference presenters were faculty members Dr. Pamela Aerni, Dr. Bill Burger, Dr. Jennifer Capaldo, Melinda Fowlkes, Virginia Kinman, Liz Kocevar-Weidinger, Heather Lettner-Rust, Sharon Menegoni, Tatiana Pashkova-Balkenhol, Dr. Melissa Rhoten and Dr. Kristen Welch and staff members Dr. Rick Chassey, Karen Schinabeck and Dr. Linda Townsend.

There were four blocks of concurrent sessions. Originally, some 15 sessions by 18 presenters had been scheduled, but weather concerns resulted in the cancellation of three sessions.