Florida A&M University (FAMU) was named as one of just 12 members of the 2020 class of Excellence in Assessment (EIA) designees, a national program aimed at recognizing colleges and universities conducting comprehensive assessment of student learning outcomes as a means to drive internal improvement and advance student success.
The EIA designation is the first national designation of its kind, spotlighting institutions that successfully integrate assessment practices across the institution, providing evidence of student learning, and using assessment results to guide institutional decision-making and improve student performance.
Along with FAMU, Miami-Dade College and the University of Florida are the other Florida schools to receive the recognition this year. Since 2016, 39 schools have earned the designation.
Evaluation for the designation included a rigorous and systematic self-study completed by FAMU and led by Office of Assessment Director Melanie Wicinski, Ph.D., followed by a peer review panel of higher education assessment experts pulled from throughout the country.
“The Excellence in Assessment designation acknowledges the Florida A&M University community as a national leader in assessment,” Wicinski said. “The designation highlights an established culture of continuous improvement throughout the institution, and a dedication to enhancing student learning and the overall student experience.”
FAMU’s goal to enhance effectiveness by the use of best practices allows the University to implement an assessment process that leads to quality programs and service improvements.
With guidance and leadership from Wicinski’s team, connections between meaningful assessment activities and professional development activities are explored and celebrated.
From a new assessment rubric to an annual Assessment Day, a mini-conference style professional development opportunity, FAMU illustrates commitment to continuous improvement that is inherent in a strong assessment program and effective reporting process. Assessment Day at FAMU is Nov. 6.
“This designation recognizes the efforts by staff and faculty to create data-informed operational and academic environments at FAMU,” said President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “Our integrated use of assessment methodologies enhances the quality of our work and accelerate student success outcomes.”
The EIA designation was created to acknowledge on a national level the important work colleges and universities are doing through comprehensive assessment activities and to highlight those practices so other institutions can draw upon them to inform their own efforts.
The designees needed to demonstrate how aligned processes, building from course-based assessment, foster a coherent, collaborative approach to assessing student learning.
“The EIA designees have a demonstrated commitment to measuring the impact of their student success efforts and are working to improve that impact through evidence-based methods,” said Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson. “Their work is rightly being nationally recognized with a designation that not only profiles their work but provides a platform from which other institutions can learn and better track their own progress to drive improvement.”
Natasha Jankowski, Ph.D., National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) executive director, said the Excellence in Assessment Designation is the first national, jointly sponsored designation to recognize institutions moving assessment of student learning from a compliance exercise to one of meaningful engagement.
“It highlights the use of evidence of student learning across the entirety of the university setting, involving a variety of stakeholders including students, employers, and student affairs staff,” Jankowski said.
The EIA Designations are directly linked to NILOA’s Transparency Framework. The application process for the designation includes a rigorous and systematic self-study. Accredited, degree-granting institutions working to implement and sustain comprehensive use of assessment of student learning outcomes are eligible to receive the designations.
With the 2020 class, 39 schools have received the designation in the program.