Assessments to improve learning

By Jennifer Ramolt, [email protected]

UA’s library faculty are hard at work making sure that students are learning the best way that they can. On Tuesday, Feb. 17 the Institute for Teaching and Learning hosted one of many seminars to educate students on the Documenting Student Learning Series.

The goal of the series is to inform faculty and department chairs on student learning processes and assist them in developing strategies to improve those processes. Simply put, faculty are sharing data and ideas on how to make it easier for students to learn.

This workshop, entitled “Who’s Afraid of… Assessment?” was led by Beate Gersch, undergraduate outreach librarian, and Joseph Salem, head of Research and Learning Services.

“[The goal of Tuesday’s seminar] was to share the results of the assessment project and to start a little bit more of a conversation,” Salem said. He and Gersch wanted attendees of the workshop to walk away with a better knowledge of how to put together and pull data from general education assessments. This is a way that will help future courses be built up and improved upon.

Salem and Gersch presented background information on the project and helped attendees brainstorm ideas for how their assessments might be developed in order to get the right information from students. In knowing what students have and have not yet learned, professors can budget their time accordingly and begin improving their plans for future courses.

Ian McCullough, physical sciences librarian and assistant professor of bibliography, had attended the workshop.

“[I’m] hoping to improve my planning for providing library instruction to students, and make it more effective and be able to gauge where there is work to be done,” McCullough said.

McCullough found the session helpful and will apply some of the things learned during the workshop to help with curriculum mapping. There are hopes to apply these tools in order to avoid wasting time in class and spend more time on material that needs to be learned.

If sessions like these are successful, general education course assessments will begin a cycle of improvement that helps professors and students better communicate how to teach and how to learn.

If students or faculty are interested other workshops similar to this one, including seminars on gender, mental health, and improved methods of teaching can be found and registered for on The Institute for Teaching and Learning’s website at