Posted February 14, 2012 by Sarah-Ann Harnick 

Assessment is Here

I knew it was coming. Our campus has been struggling with the idea of assessment for more than two years. Faculty have their own battles over the appropriate tools and the contents of rubrics. Some faculty don’t want to assess teaching and learning at all. Others see it as a necessary part of teaching but don’t agree on the appropriate model. Student affairs knew it would be soon be our time to tackle this issue.

The campus has sat through presentations made up of graphs, pie charts, and dashboard indicators. The chosen method in my division is the SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. As far as I’m concerned, all of these tools just put old wine into new bottles. The data is the important part; not the presentation. If you don’t act or respond to the data, the whole exercise is pointless. Market research taught me that decades ago.

I’m a facilities person. My assessment tools are usually students standing in a room and counting lights that aren’t working; the number, type, and color of furniture; etc. It may make a compelling story for a room renovation, but it may not enough when “we’re fighting for our lives,” as my dean put it.

Luckily, I have ACUI! I know the sorts of data my colleagues have found useful. I know our core competencies. I’ve learned to take advantage of campus resources, so I’ll be visiting of Center for Teaching and Learning so its director can help me develop an assessment plan.

New Jersey City University has been working on “closing the loop” from teaching to learning on the way to meeting university learning outcomes for the past few years. Under the leadership of our vice president, we have been initiating strategies to enhance student retention and graduation rates. I’m pretty sure that the academic side of the house will help me transform my latest survey of faucet motion detectors into a retention strategy. Hmmm… "When I have to go to three faucets before there’s running water to wash my hands, I feel____.”

How are you currently using assessment on your campus?

Sarah-Ann Harnick

Sarah-Ann Harnick is the Assistant Director- Campus Life at New Jersey City University.

Sarah Harnick became active in ACUI with her first job in student activities of Rider then-College. After earning her master’s in fine arts from the University of Texas, she relocated to New Jersey and just never left the state. Intrigued by how things work, she accepted an operations position at New Jersey City now-University where she has learned more about elevators, revolving doors, and roof leaks than most people should ever know. The real reason she has stayed in this field is the pure joy of watching students learn and grow.


Note: To post a comment to The Commons, you must login to the ACUI website.
about the commons
The Commons is the online hub to discover new ideas and learn what is going on in the college union and student activities profession.
more ...
about the contributors

Meet the ACUI members who have volunteered to share their knowledge and insights as regular authors in The Commons.

more ...