Using Data to Enhance Learning Experiences
Touro Holds University-Wide Summit on Assessment
More than 100 faculty, administrators and professionals from across the Touro College and University System schools joined together for a summit on academic assessment on Feb. 21.
Entitled, “Next Generation Assessment at TCUS,” and taking place simultaneously in Touro College’s midtown headquarters, Touro University California (TUC), Touro University Nevada (TUN), New York Medical College (NYMC) and in the Touro University Worldwide (TUW) offices, the first-ever university-wide summit allowed participants to learn and discuss the benefits of proper assessment measures, the latest technologies available and how the university’s commitment to assessment leads to better student education outcomes.
“Assessment is what we do to make sure we’re excellent in all areas of education,” stated Touro University Nevada Provost Dr. Raymond Alden III. “The techniques we use are rapidly evolving to meet the needs of a new generation of students.”
Keynote speaker Dr. Catherine Wehlburg, Dean of the School of Sciences, Mathematics and Education at Marymount University, spoke about the history of assessment in teaching and how proper assessment is integral. “Assessment has always been the way to know what we’re doing and whether that’s not working,” said Dr. Wehlburg, author of the books, Promoting Integrated and Transformative Assessment: A Deeper Focus on Student Learning and Meaningful Course Revision: Enhancing Academic Engagement Using Student Learning Data. “As educators we use assessment constantly.”
Dr. Wehlburg discussed the relatively recent trend of assessment taking place outside of university systems in terms of ranking systems for universities and outside metrics. Dr. Wehlburg encouraged educators to focus more on the personal dimensions of assessment. “Assessment is done to enhance learning, it’s not an end of itself,” she said. “It’s not about gathering data for the sake of gathering data, but rather to use that data to enhance our learning experiences.”
As a way of re-focusing teaching goals, Dr. Wehlburg asked audience members to envision an ideal student five years after graduation. “What to they know? How do they act? What do they believe?” She asked.
After the speech, several breakout sessions took place with faculty from across all Touro’s schools, including panels on meeting accreditation standards, the use of the ExamSoft assessment platform and ensuring that faculty is involved in assessment procedures. A second main speaker, engineer Caarie Saarinen, a Senior Solutions Engineer at Instructure, who promotes instructional technology to promote teaching and learning, spoke of how to use Canvas, a cloud-based learning management service.
“Networking with our colleagues allows us to talk about the assessment techniques we are currently using and how to enhance them,” said Dr. Henry Cohen, Dean of Touro College of Pharmacy.
“It’s an absolutely wonderful idea to have this university-wide assessment summit,” said Dr. Lina Richardson, Interim Acting Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Touro’s New York School of Career and Applied Studies. “Assessment is extremely important and the new methods we discussed today will allow our faculty members to better evaluate what is working.”
The program was coordinated by the TCUS Academic Affairs team, which includes the provosts, academic vice presidents and chief academic officers at Touro’s California, Illinois, Nevada and Illinois campuses. Patricia Salkin, Provost of the Graduate and Professional Divisions at Touro College, convened the system-wide task force responsible for the event. Salkin explained, “Touro College and University System is serious about our commitment to full and robust assessment of our student learning outcomes, our educational programs and all aspects of how Touro operates to achieve our mission and goals,” she continued. “Today’s program is just one aspect of the ongoing work of the task force that includes a new TCUS website for assessment resources to help faculty and administration, an inventory of assessment tools used at Touro, and ongoing analysis and discussion of best practices as part of our ongoing continuous quality improvement.”
Dr. Alan Kadish, President of the Touro College and University System delivered the closing remarks. He praised the Provost’s Office for putting the summit together and stressed the value of assessment for the university.
“Today’s summit has been an opportunity to bring people together and share the best practices of Touro on assessment,” concluded Dr. Kadish. “Together the combination of strengths of TCUS, TUC, TUN and NYMC and Touro College creates a powerhouse of knowledge and intellect. When we work together, it improves us all. Assessment is mission critical for higher education. And this summit is a testament to our commitment to it.”