Writing CenterAssessment Brian Fallon, FIT/SUNY Ben Rafoth, IUP IWCA Summer Institute 2013
What are your assessment needs? • What are your current assessment needs? • What kind of assessment do you imagine you will need to do in the next year? the next five years?
Internal/External: Assessment Stories • Ben’s Assessment: Focused on best practices in tutoring • Brian’s Assessment: Focused on the program Accountability: • Ben: Are tutors doing what we believe they should be doing? • Brian: Is the program serving the needs of the institution?
Reflect • Based on the conversation thus far, label each of your original assessment needs with an I (internal) or an E (external).
How do we know we’re effective? Or, based on the tension between internal and external needs, how do we define effectiveness in the Writing Center?
Writing and Assessment “Assessment has become a public and educational issue, not solely a technical one. We no longer seem to be content to be told that assessments meet certain psychometric and statistical requirements. We want to know whether they help or hurt learning and teaching.” (Broad, 2003, p. 9)
What we really value “Instructors, administrators, and researchers of writing, as well as our students, our colleagues elsewhere in the academy, and the general public, all deserve both a rigorous inquiry into what we really value and a detailed document recording the results of that inquiry” (Broad, 2003, p. 12-13). “The ability to assess is the ability to determine and control what is valuable” (Huot, 2002, p. 107).
Models of Assessment* *Adapted from Popham by Joan Hawthorne
Mickey Harris “One of the important outcomes of institutional research done by a writing center administrator is that the writing center becomes an effective, integral part of its campus. It serves that institution and that institution’s students and faculty. A writing center actively involved in molding itself to the institution and furthering the work of that institution is therefore not some generic learning assistance program…” (Harris 86)
Jon Olson et al. “Furthermore, assessment need not represent a quantified, numerical point of abstraction far removed from human interaction…assessment can be the very thing that reveals and enacts the reason why writing programs exist in the first place: to improve communication between writers and readers.” “In other words, assessing a program can be like tutoring a writer—addressing questions, through conversation, that help people see more clearly what they’ve been doing so they can then do more effectively what they need to achieve.” (Olson, Moyer, and Falda)
Neal Lerner “Collaborating with colleagues across our institutions can serve the dual purpose of capitalizing on local expertise and sending the message that the writing center is serious about assessment.”
Writing Center Assessment Might Include: • Outcomes Assessment (Goal-oriented assessment) • Assessment of campus-wide need for the services provided • Satisfaction of those who use the writing center • Comparisons with similar programs nationwide • Cost efficiency • Usage Tracking Courtesy of Joan Hawthorne
Lerner’s Framework for Research on Writing Center Effects: • Keep track of who participates • Assess student needs • Assess student satisfaction • Assess campus environments • Assess outcomes • Find comparable institution assessment • Use nationally accepted standards to assess
My take-away:Top 5 Assessment Lessons • Goals • Negotiation • Expertise • Appease • Control Balancing what matters to me, to the Writing Center, to tutors, to students, and to the administration.
Goals • Writing Studio Goal: Assess how the Writing Studio meets student, tutor, and faculty needs. • Institutional Goal: Evaluate Customer Service and Business Processes • Shared Goal: Assess how the Writing Studio supports FIT’s strategic.
Negotiation “Excuse me, Brian. Is there something wrong with your eyebrows?” • Business Models vs. Educational Models? • What’s the real value of the Writing Studio? • Customer experience vs. learning experience?
Expertise • Relying on national standards. • Bringing external reviewers with WC expertise. • Research similar institutions and any relevant literature. Tutor Focus Group-- What I saw vs. what the Dean of Institutional Assessment saw:
Appease • Ok, I’ll create that flow chart.
Control • Stand up for what’s valuable about your writing center. • Educate your administration about the program, the tutors, the mission, and the pedagogy. e.g., peer tutors benefit from being tutors (PWTARP) Build assessments that: • show you and other audiences what is or isn’t happening in the writing center. • focus on goals that are attainable and worthwhile.
Your take-away: Take a moment to reflect on: • What do you make of your original assessment needs at this point? • Have you changed your mind about internal/external needs? • What questions do you still have about assessment?