ASSESStivus evaluates academics, program success

Geneseo faculty members participated in ASSESStivus—a yearly assessment that examines student outcomes—this month. The College Assessment Advisory Committee created ASSESStivus in 2012 with the goal of promoting campus-wide assessment activity and shared results of successful practices with other faculty members. According to Interim Associate Provost for Personnel and Diversity Kenneth Kallio, ASSESStivus was developed to encourage a discussion regarding the effectiveness of the college’s academic programs, campus activities and student organizations.

“A number of years ago, we decided that Geneseo is not just about doing assessment, but about sharing ideas, findings and talking about them,” Kallio said.

According to Kallio, the major goal of ASSESStivus is to evaluate the student outcomes within various school programs. Kallio said that each academic program within Geneseo has a set of learning outcomes for students, and these programs should instill knowledge that will be useful for the next chapter in students’ lives.

“Students, parents, legislators, governors and anybody who has a stake in an institution like this wants to be insured that we know what we are trying to do, and that there is evidence we are actually successful at doing it,” Kallio said.

Kallio said that the college provides such evidence by administering campus-wide assessments. According to Kallio, the ASSESStivus event alters its assessment topics yearly, but the structure of the event remains mostly the same.

Since 2012, Geneseo has brought in a nationally acclaimed keynote speaker to address the importance of campus-wide assessment discussions. This year’s speaker was Vice President of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities Tia Brown McNair, whose keynote was titled, “Assessment and Beyond: Connecting High-Impact Practices with Applied Learning Outcomes.”

Assistant professor of sociology Michael Restivo and assistant professor of statistics Yusuf K. Bilgic displayed a presentation called “There’s a Stat for That: Reflections in Teaching Advanced Statistics across the Curriculum,” in which they examined the success of the statistics cluster hire in 2014 at this year’s ASSESStivus event. The cluster hire employed cross-disciplinary faculty who specialize in statistics. The hire included Restivo from the sociology department, Bilgic from the mathematics department and assistant professor of psychology Christine Merrilees from the psychology department.

Throughout the year, these three professors would alternate teaching the interdisciplinary statistics class on a weekly basis. The two professors who were not teaching on any given week would act as students and they would learn from the other professors’ teaching styles.

“The preparation amongst the professors for the course was difficult,” Restivo said. “For the students, though, they had to adjust to different professors on a weekly basis, which I think would be challenging.”

Kallio said that the goal of these cluster hires is to allow faculty to interact with professors across disciplines, rather than solely focusing on areas of study in their own department. He explained that Geneseo plans to learn from the successes of cluster hiring to improve the college overall.

“As we go forward and as we have other ideas for clusters that might be useful, we can take from their experiences and better use them to build and improve the institution as a whole,” he said. Kallio also stated that cluster hires will enhance the learning atmosphere for Geneseo students.

“Ultimately the aim here is to provide a better educational environment for the students,” Kallio said.