A new paintbrush: Assessment reporting and analysis tools evolve (August, 2013)
Happy New School Year, everyone! We hope your Fall semester is off to a great start. In Institutional Research, Planning & Assessment, we have been working on a few summer projects. One of these is to support faculty and staff with moving their assessment plans into Taskstream AMS. This work has given us much time to consider all the different ways this new system will benefit us. We had already been widely using Taskstream to capture “employee credentials” over the past year. Taskstream credentials collects accomplishments of faculty and staff, providing data useful for accreditation, grant applications, CV development, and general data regarding the productivity and accomplishments of all employees. Additionally, we have built a robust assessment documentation structure in AMS, but it has not replaced the narrative Outcomes Based Assessment Plan (OBAP) format.
Over the past years, our narrative format for OBAP’s has enabled departments to showcase their great assessment work in a formal document. This assessment process was instrumental in our successful institutional re-accreditation process, and we can take great pride in that. The flexibility of the narrative system helped us to achieve support for this tool, as each department could design an assessment plan that satisfied both the university’s and their accreditor’s requirements.
Now we would like to take the assessment process to the next step, by creating a new technical format for the OBAP. Instead of writing the OBAP in a word document, it will be developed directly in Taskstream. Our goal is to have a structured home for assessment data that enables report development, automatic curriculum mapping and outcomes alignment, comparisons by college or school, and a formalized way to tie assessment data to resource allocation.We learned from review of assessment plans with our new school curriculum and assessment committees that the variety of ways in which OBAP’s were written in the narrative format, made the program review process somewhat unwieldy. The OBAP process and format is still the tool for assessment, but will now be constructed in Taskstream. The capability and versatility of the OBAP as a planning instrument will become even stronger, with new tools and better reporting.
This summer each department was asked to enter the “standing requirements” of their assessment plan, including; mission, goals, outcomes, delivery, and data collection tools. The information entered throughout this academic year will provide the foundation needed for academic and student affairs departments to plan for and implement assessment activities during the current assessment cycle of 2013-14. Next year, we will ask departments to enter the cyclical assessment information, including; evaluations, results, findings, decisions, and communication, in Taskstream as part of the end of year report. The information will be invaluable in university planning, resource allocation, and decision-making. The transition has gone well so far, and we anticipate greatly enhancing our reporting capability with Taskstream data in the upcoming year. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us in IRPA. –J. Robinson Kloos