NILOA Occasional Paper No. 51
On their own, student learning and development outcomes assessment data have limited utility for improving programming. We believe outcomes data should not be collected until two fundamental questions can be answered: “Why should this programming result in the desired outcome?” (i.e., program theory) and “Was the intended programming actually experienced by students?” (i.e., implementation fidelity). Some assessment professionals may find this proclamation radical. Our call is fueled by the creation of unjustified programming and curriculum, coupled with the collection of outcomes data that are not used for improvement efforts. We contend that it is only after program theory is articulated that faculty and student affairs professionals can collect relevant, useful outcomes data. Moreover, valid inferences from outcomes data are contingent on knowing what programming students experienced. This “expanded” assessment practice has potential to afford better-designed, more impactful, research-informed programming to students. As our students have opportunities to engage in well-implemented, should-be-effective programming, their learning should demonstrably improve. Thus, we call for professional standards and professionals themselves to integrate program theory and implementation fidelity into outcomes assessment practice.
Sara Finney - Ford Faculty Support For Excellence in Teaching
Kathryn Thompson - Outstanding Thesis award from The Graduate School
Kate Schaefer & Kathryn Thompson - Outstanding Service award from Graduate Psychology
Nikole Gregg - Outstanding Teaching award from Graduate Psychology
Caroline Prendergast - Outstanding Scholarship award from Graduate Psychology
CARS STUDENT SPOTLIGHT
Samantha Harmon is entering her second year in the Psychological Sciences M.A. program with a concentration in Quantitative Psychology. A local to the area, Samantha grew up in the Harrisonburg area and attended JMU for her undergraduate studies. After receiving a degree in Psychology, Samantha joined our program. In her first year in CARS, Samantha served as a graduate assistant on the Assessment Day/Data Management team where she helped Dena Pastor and other graduate assistants implement JMU's first-ever remote fall assessment day. Samantha will resume her role on the Assessment Day team for her second year starting in fall. Here are Samantha's responses to our interview questions - you can hear about her experience in her own words!
What made you choose JMU, and this program specifically? I had taken an advanced psychological statistic course in my undergraduate studies and was introduced to a new realm of possibilities within the psychological sciences. I fell in love with the idea of contributing to research by revising and developing new ways to provide more techniques to measure human attributes.
What topics/areas of study and research are you most interested in? I am interested in looking at Diagnostic Cognitive Modeling and developing validity of the attributes used within this framework.
What has your favorite experience been so far in this program or in your GA?Creating a website for the recruiting initiate to recruit undergrads to the internship as well to the program. It was amazing to cultivate my skills on something I had no prior experience with.
Samantha also tells us that her favorite class so far has been Data Management (604) because she feels the class provided her with skills she will use for the rest of her life. Outside of her work at JMU, Samantha has an impressive side business making and selling gourmet cupcakes!
JMU Creative Media