2024 Conference on General Education, Pedagogy, and Assessment
Students at the Center: Using Equity-Centered Assessment Approaches to Challenge the Status Quo
Challenging the status quo means interrogating and revising our assessment practices and ensuring that information is used to improve learning environments for all our students, faculty, and staff. Two questions should drive our assessment purposes and strategies:
(1) How do we engage in meaningful, equity-centered assessment inquiry that creates a more nuanced data picture and compels action?
(2) How do we empower agency and engagement in assessment while respecting power dynamics among students, among faculty, and between faculty and students?
In this interactive workshop, participants will learn how to apply elements of Participatory Action Inquiry as a methodology for engaging in equity-centered assessment. We will use case studies to illustrate specific reflective and group activities to engage students and faculty in context-specific inquiry to improve learning and learning environments. Bring your assessment challenges and questions, and we will brainstorm how these and/or other approaches can be adapted to keep students at the center.
Co-Facilitator: Bethany L. Miller
Director of Institutional Research and Assessment, Macalester College
Co-Facilitator: Nancy Bostrom
Associate Director of Assessment, Macalester College
Tackling the Hard Work of Incorporating “Soft Skills” into Your Gen Ed Courses
Ask today’s students the purpose of pursuing a postsecondary degree, and they’re likely to say it’s to get a better job. Ask employers about the workforce preparedness of college graduates, and they’re likely to say that today’s graduates don’t have the “soft skills” that are critical for career success. In response, college and university faculty rightly point out that their training was centered on disciplinary expertise, rather than more broadly on teaching and learning—never mind career-relevant pedagogical strategies. This pre-conference workshop will focus on how to incorporate the development of communication, teamwork, reliability, adaptability, organization, time management, and other “soft skills” into college courses and assignments. It will also address how faculty can model these skills in their teaching and how to create lessons that help students become more adept in the skills they will need in the future. Overall, the workshop will empower participants to help prepare students of any major to be reliable coworkers, responsible adults, and respectful citizens of the world.
Facilitator: Nancy A. Melser
Assistant Professor Emerita of Elementary Education, Ball State University
Fostering Constructive Dialogue in the Gen Ed Classroom
General education courses offer the unique opportunity to bring together students from across majors and interests. The conversations resulting from the range of student perspectives can be simultaneously full of potential and daunting. Students have a real chance to exchange ideas about complex, important issues that cut across disciplinary expertise with people who think very differently than they do. But those conversations can be fraught with challenges from speaking across different views, beliefs, and identities. In this workshop, participants will learn how to approach the conversation in the gen ed classroom through constructive dialogue. We will explore what constructive dialogue is, why it is essential, and how gen ed faculty can introduce constructive dialogue into their classes. Participants can expect to leave this session with actionable insights and practices to better realize the benefits of the gen ed experience and mitigate its challenges.
Facilitator: Jake Fay
Director of Education, Constructive Dialogue Institute
The Inner Ecosystem of Critical Thinking
We all want our students to engage in critical thinking, that deliberative, reiterative analysis of information and ideas designed to lead to productive global citizenship. But, as we ask students to challenge their thinking, take deliberative risks, and pay careful attention to their intentions as they develop new ideas, what occurs internally—in their minds and emotions? And just as important: how can we coach our students through these processes to make them as productive as possible? After all, internal investigation and risk-taking are not easy for anyone at any age; indeed, we are responsible for supporting our students as they engage in this most necessary of tasks. This workshop is designed with two purposes: first, to engage attendees in developing strategies for supporting our students' inner lives as they participate in critical thinking tasks. We will explore all aspects of the internal ecosystem of our students, attending to the role of feelings, emotions, and dispositions that contribute to critical and convergent thinking. Second, we will lead a conversation about how we can bring these ideas back to our colleagues on campus so that they, too, can develop robust strategies for coaching students through the challenges of critical engagement.
Co-Facilitator: Mays Imad
Assistant Professor of Biology, Connecticut College
Co-Facilitator: Susannah McGowan
Director for Curriculum Initiatives, Red House, Georgetown University
Co-Facilitator: Paul Hanstedt
Director of the Harte Center for Teaching and Learning, Washington and Lee University
Nuts and Bolts of Institutional Assessment
This workshop will walk you through how to create an institutional assessment structure that is meaningful and manageable. The presenters will outline how to establish a culture of assessment by creating a deliberative structure and ongoing processes that facilitate faculty and staff involvement. This workshop will help participants align institutional learning outcomes with their mission and create an assessment committee composed of diverse faculty and staff representation. This committee oversees the nuts and bolts of institutional assessment. The workshop will include the following:
- Developing rubrics.
- Establishing assessment liaisons.
- Evaluating annual program assessment processes.
- Creating an assessment hub.
- Hosting assignment design workshops and rubric scoring parties.
Documents and templates will be shared from two institutions: Woodbury University in Burbank, California, and Mount Saint Mary's University, Los Angeles, California.
Co-Facilitator: Michele A. Starkey
Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Woodbury University
Co-Facilitator: Elizabeth M. Sturgeon
Interim Assistant Provost, Professor of English, and Accreditation Liaison Officer, Mount Saint Mary's University, Los Angeles
Leading Successful General Education Reform: Essential Strategies and Opportunities
Leading general education reform is among the most multifaceted and impactful opportunities for higher education faculty and administrators to improve student learning and success. This pre-conference workshop aims to help those engaging in such efforts be as successful as possible as they engage in this work. Change models relevant to higher education social systems will be examined, as will key areas of focus associated with general education reform, including curricular redesign, teaching and learning practice, and meaningful assessment. Successful governance approaches will be explored, as will critical attributes of modern general education models, including High Impact Educational Practices (HIPs), Open Educational Resources (OER), equity, and inclusion. This pre-conference workshop will conclude with key action items for those participating in the 2023 Institute on General Education and Assessment; however, all participants can anticipate opportunities to engage in planning activities leading to the next steps they can perform when they return to their campus.
Facilitator: C. Edward Watson
Associate Vice President for Curricular and Pedagogical Innovation, AAC&U