This story first appeared in the March 2018 edition of The Hilltop.
On March 14, the first “assessment day” replaced morning classes for students. The aim was to get accurate feedback about how our institution is doing as a whole. Students took different tests and surveys according to their year in school.
The goal was to “improve student learning,” according to Felicia Squires, director of Assessment and Institutional Research at Corban.
“That’s the bottom line,” she said. “It’s a way to make us better.”
Freshmen and sophomores took two surveys. The first was the Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI), which measured students’ satisfaction with the institution as a whole, and the Information Literacy Assessment Survey (ILAS) measured the students’ ability to identify all sorts of information. Juniors and seniors also took the SSI.
Juniors took the Educational Testing Service Proficiency Profile, instead of ILAS, which tested the quality of general education classes. Seniors took the SSI, College Senior Survey, and a Major Field Test, which tested specific major departments.
“What assessment day does,” Squires said, “is it takes all those inventories and surveys that students were doing throughout the year, and it puts them all on one day, so we don’t have to hound you over email, and we get a better return.”
A few students voiced negative feelings, especially about the lack of communication ahead of time.
“The part of assessment day that makes it frustrating and gives us no desire to go is that [Corban] didn’t inform us very well,” Julia Donner said.
Another concern was the lengthy time commitment.
“I find it frustrating that it’s four hours long when I don’t even have four hours of class that day,” Nicole Stone said.
There was a feeling of unpreparedness even during the scheduled time.
“I think the assessment day is a good idea,” Taylor Peterson said. “But there was a lot of waiting time between surveys and tests. That was frustrating to me because I had no idea what to expect or that I needed to be prepared for those breaks.”
In the past, Corban has done institutional assessments in different ways, including during classes such as American Thought and Western Thought. Due to changes in core requirements, however, not all students were being included in that.
“If everybody can just have patience and grace, especially with me,” Squires said. “It’s new, and I’m an office of one.”
There were mixed reactions from students who attended the event.
“As a junior-senior student, taking a simple assessment really wasn’t too big of an inconvenience to anyone,” Mio Beard said. “I think some people were quick to overreact to the change of routine, but it’s nice being able to give honest feedback on our university as a whole.”
Some students made the most of the day despite a lack of desire to give up time in such busy schedules.
“I wasn’t against assessment day, and I thought it would be beneficial, so I went,” Alexis Gonzales said. “I like that Corban is seeking to hear our voices and being open to how they can improve or what they are doing well.”
Students also had the opportunity to participate in activities within their departments following the surveys.
“Assessment day was much better than everyone was building it up to be,” Brendan Fugere said. “Getting together with my entire department was enjoyable. We spent an extra hour debating the definitions of the terms and the ideals of libertarianism.”
“I really believe in it,” Squires said. “I haven’t always, so I’m very sympathetic to people who are skeptical.”
The idea was to include as many students as possible, and cancelling classes for an assessment day was the idea approved to do that.
“I think there really are positive benefits,” Squires said. “So I try to talk more about the positives. Improving student learning — that’s what we do. If we’re not doing that, then why are we here?”