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Shining a Spotlight on Quality: Drexel Hosts 3rd Annual Assessment Conference

On September 7-9, Drexel University hosted the 3rd annual Conference on Assessment of Teaching and Student Learning entitled “Academic Quality: Driving Assessment and Accreditation.” The purpose of the conference is to bring together individuals who are interested in the study of teaching and learning in order to share ideas and programs.  The sharing of ideas between institutions enriches all and strengthens higher education overall.  Over 420 attendees, including assessment professionals, provosts, faculty and sponsors, from 146 different institutions attended the event on campus.  The robust program contained six pre-conference workshops, three plenaries and eight concurrent session blocks.  Overall there were a total of 70 presentations from 165 panelists and presenters representing 50 different institutions from 28 states and also from 5 countries outside the United States (Israel, Pakistan, Canada, Andorra and Morocco).  To see the full schedule of programming, 2016 Program and Presentations.  The conference showcased Drexel facilities including, the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, Pearlstein Business Learning Center and Gerrie C. LeBow Hall.  The full conference also began with welcoming remarks issued by Drexel Provost M. Brian Blake in the Mandell Theater. 

The conference’s six pre-conference workshops offered topics which range from implementing curriculum review to the assessment of creative fields.  The half-day extended format gave the participants the opportunity to really delve into the subject matter and have prolonged access to an expert on the topic.  Over 100 attendees were able to gain valuable information and resources that that they could take back to integrate into their own programs.

This year, a total of three plenary sessions were held over the course of the conference.  Todd Zakrajsek, Associate Professor Department of Family Medicine, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, gave the opening plenary entitled “Relying on Assessment to Chip Away at Academic Injustices in the Classroom.” Richard De Millo, the Roger C. Warren Chair of Computer Science and Professor of Management at Georgia Tech, opened Thursday by delivering “A Revolution in Higher Education: A Tale of Unlikely Allies.”  The final plenary speaker was Jane Marie Souza, Assistant Provost for Academic Administration Chief Assessment Officer at the University of Rochester, presented “Developing a Culture of…. Assessment Learning Engagement Evidence Inquiry: What Culture am I Developing Now?” at Thursday’s luncheon.

The concurrent offerings featured 66 presentations in the eight different blocks of time.  56 of those were traditional hour long offerings which were informative and interactive. Topics ranged from those for beginners such as “Holding the T: Making Rubrics Work for You” to more advanced sessions like “Triple A Aligning, Accelerating, Achieving! Using Strengths to Drive Your Strategic & Assessment Plan Forward.”  A number of sessions were focused on historically difficult skills to assess like ethical reasoning and critical thinking.  As a result of the positive feedback from last year, this conference offered two separate sessions of five minute snapshot sessions which bring together a number of five minute sessions into a one hour block.  The snapshot sessions presented attendees with a quick taste of 8-9 different offerings allowing for maximum exposure to a number of topics.  These sessions were the most well attended of the conference. 

The Historic Franklin Institute https:/, located on the Ben Franklin Parkway, hosted a wonderful reception for attendees on Thursday evening within the Space Command and Trains exhibit halls.  Attendees enjoyed delicious food while interacting with the Institute’s many displays and games.  The highlight of the evening, though, was the Amazing Weather show in the Fels Planetarium.  Attendees were greeted by Mario the Dragon projected onto the ceiling before they were fully immersed in the show.  If you have a chance, check out any of these fantastic shows. 

“This was by far the most informative conference that I have attended.  I definitely gained a lot of insight into assessment and tools that I can use right away at my home institution,” Kirsten Grant, Hunter College.

 The conference was once again a huge success based on the feedback from the attendees.  That success can be contributed to the collaboration of over 50 Drexel volunteers between many departments/offices across campus including: the Provost’s Office, Instructional Media Services, University Communications, University Events, Facilities and many representatives from academic departments.  If you would like to see the information about the conference, click here.  The planning committee recently met in order to close out this conference and to start planning for next year’s event.  The team is already hard at work brainstorming new enhancements for 4th Annual Assessment Conference which will take place on September 13-15, 2017.

“I want to take a moment to thank you and your team for pulling together a successful conference. You (and your team's) thoughtfulness, dedication, and support to the participants' understanding of assessment practices was wonderful. This was my first time attending this regional conference and it was a great opportunity for me (and my co-presenters) to share our faculty experience related to assessment and accreditation within the contexts of historically Black colleges and universities. Thank you for your efforts and I look forward to participating in this conference in the future.” Pamela Felder, University of Maryland Eastern Shore