Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Role of Dropbox in the Self-Study Process

The College of Pharmacy has begun the self-study process, which will take place over the next year and a half.  This process leads to the pharmacy program once again receiving accreditation if all requirements outlined by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education are met. A steering committee has been created, which is comprised of the chairpersons of all committees within the college.  This committee will ensure that the self-study process remains on track for the site visit that is scheduled to take place at the beginning of 2016.  Dropbox is being used by all members of the steering committee as a way to share pertinent documents and data.  This seems to be the best way to facilitate good communication and transparency.  The Office of Assessment is managing the Dropbox account and troubleshooting any issues that need to be addressed.  It appears that this system will continue to be successful as we move forward in the self-study process.

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Filed under Accreditation, Practice, Self-Study

“Future-Focused Assessment”

Mark Salisbury’s “Future-Focused Assessment” article appears in the June 2014 Inside Higher Ed compilation of articles and essays titled “The Evolving Curriculum: Measuring Effectiveness of Change.” Salisbury introduces a different focus in assessment which assesses learning outcomes with a focus on the future. Specifically, how higher education institutions have prepared students to be life-long learners, instead of measuring outcomes based on what students have already learned.

In order to assess our students’ development as lifelong learners, Salisbury reasons we cannot continue to only “track learning [gains] as a finite set of outcomes.” He describes that assessment currently provides evidence of student learning by measuring “snapshots of learning outcomes,” which tracks what has been previously learned. Instead, he hopes to further develop it and introduce a different design of assessment, which analyzes the quality of the learning process beyond graduation,not just assessing learning outcomes during those four years of college. He proposes “emphasizing the connection between what has already occurred and what is yet to come.” Developing this new approach in assessment would help “determine the degree to which we are preparing students” for future challenges.

Salisbury hopes there will be more focus on the broader picture of the college experience, which is, that the “college experience should approach learning as a process- one that is cumulative, iterative, multidimensional, and most importantly, self-sustaining long beyond graduation.” He believes “we have to expand our approach to include process as well as product” in order to determine how institutions are preparing its students for life-long learning.

He understands this type of re-design requires more time, effort, and a more complex understanding of learning outcomes, however, he believes its implementation would help “demonstrate that the educational process is the glue that fuses those disparate parts into a great and qualitatively distinct whole.”

Just as the efforts of assessment provide administrators with data so they have the opportunity to make improvements, evolving practices and techniques in assessment is also advantageous. Further research should be contributed to future-focused assessment efforts. Otherwise, the college experience of life-long learning as a “whole [will] be nothing more than the sum of [its] parts” unless assessment can provide such valuable data.

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Filed under Culture, General Observations

Bachelor’s Degree Makeover?

Jeffrey Selingo has published an interesting article on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s site, regarding the bachelor’s degree and his opinion of a proposed makeover. The general point of the article is that institutions of higher education should offer bachelor’s degrees that meet both students’ aspirations and needs at the same time. As the economy shifts and changes (or remains stagnant), the article proposes that the bachelor’s degree be reworked somehow. One interesting example given, is from Stanford University.

Selingo describes:

Dubbed the “open loop” university, this plan would admit students at 18 but give them six years of access to residential learning opportunities, to use anytime in their life. Such a path through college could shift our deep-rooted cultural belief that college is something young people do, and would make alternative pathways, such as gap years and low-residency colleges, more acceptable to those students who wouldn’t benefit from the typical campus experience.

We always need to look for ways to be ahead of the curve in higher education. Whether this relates to distance learning, study abroad, assessment technology and techniques, or general change to degrees and programs, it is essential for all higher education professionals to look for the writing on the wall, and make change when necessary. I agree that an examination of the bachelor’s degree is required. Figuring our where and what to reorganize, is where the true work begins.

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Filed under Culture, General Observations

Google Hiring More People Without College Degrees

Business Insider recently published an article that discusses the increasing amount of hires at Google who have not earned college degrees.  The majority of employees have graduated from college but this number is decreasing.  Google has found that high GPAs and strong college transcripts do not guarantee success in the workplace.  The ability to creatively consider problems and arrive at novel solutions is considered most important.  It is noted, however that a college degree is still important in order to acquire advanced skills and receive better pay.

Administrators in higher education are continuously looking for better ways to gauge how well a student will perform in a particular program.  A student’s SAT scores, GPA, and high school transcript are just a few of the factors that are taken into account.  The Assessment office in the College of Pharmacy at St. John’s University routinely collects and analyzes data to achieve a better understanding of how these elements impact student learning.  There is a pressing concern that some pieces are not being examined when considering a student’s eligibility for admission.  It may be necessary to begin examining factors like non-traditional data or program specific criteria.  It seems that the only way to determine what works best is to look at the current population and determine if new factors need to be taken into account.  The idea of taking different approaches into account  in this area is something that is currently being looked at on our end, and an idea that other assessment professionals should also be considering.

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Filed under General Observations