Karen Rothstein, PhD
eLumen Vice President of Strategy and Research
This past week I attended the Association for Institutional Research (AIR) Forum in Denver. After climbing a flight of stairs and then having to catch my breath, I realized the need for air at AIR wasn’t just a catchy title. Mile High City indeed. Given my role with eLumen, I was eager to learn about the researcher’s point of view on national trends in higher education, response to current pressures on institutions, and of course all things curriculum and assessment focused. And I was not disappointed.
I attended two sessions that illustrated the enormous effort required to engage in high quality improvement efforts. The first was entitled How Did We Get Here? Curriculum Mapping as the Cornerstone to Good Assessment. Evan Widney from Duke shared the University’s impressive undertaking of curriculum mapping. In addition to the final product of course-level outcomes mapped to program and institutional-level outcomes, faculty had the opportunity to dig deep into the current SLOs to determine if they are still valid and relevant. While SLO work is often framed in the context of accreditation, Widney’s project illustrated the deeper pedagogical conversations that stem from a high-quality curriculum process. He also included a terrific, simple image of design vs. implementation (see below). The second session, entitled IR Collaboration & Leadership in Academic Program Review, was from Springfield College. Mary Ann Coughlin and Jerold Laguilles presented the case study of their college’s implementation of a process to evaluate and prioritize academic programs. The data they used were varied, while the conversations with faculty and administrators were weighty and sometimes challenging.
A common theme in these and other sessions I attended was the importance of bringing comprehensive data to the conversation. These data often took the form of spreadsheets, homemade templates, and other labor-intensive processes. I’ll be honest…there were a few times when I wanted to stand up and shout (because I’m from NY, I tend to shout), “I know of a better way…follow me!” But I contained myself lest I got kicked out of the conference for causing a ruckus. eLumen’s way is to house the curriculum and assessment data in a single system, while also pulling in completion and success data from student information systems. The result is a single source of truth for data on your campus that provides the crucial information needed by faculty, staff, and administrators. If you’d like to talk more about eLumen and how it can support your data needs, please send me an email…I always love to talk about data!