University Holds Assessment Institute in January

Feb 2, 2016

From left, guest speaker Julia Haslett, associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, gathers with University of Scranton Assessment Institute representatives Sondra Myers, senior fellow for international, civic and cultural projects and director of the Schemel Forum; Patricia Harrington, Ed.D., associate provost of institutional effectiveness; and Cyrus P. Olsen, III, D.Phil., associate professor of theology/religious studies and director of general education assessment. Haslett’s feature-length documentary “An Encounter with Simone Weil” was shown and discussed at one of the Assessment Institute’s sessions held on campus in January.

The University of Scranton’s Assessment Institute, held for faculty during intersession 2016, combined lecture, film, demonstration, discussion and workshops for participants to learn about strategies and resources that could be used to monitor, evaluate and improve educational outcomes for students. It is held annually for collegial collaboration across all colleges and divisions, including Student Formation and Campus Life.

The institute included examples of evidence-based program and course improvements implemented by University faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, Panuska College of Professional Studies, Kania School of Management and the Weinberg Memorial Library. Murli Rajan, Ph.D., associate dean of the Kania School of Management; Kevin Wilkerson, Ph.D., professor of counseling and human services; Bonnie Oldham, associate professor, library; and Nicholas Truncale, faculty specialist for physics and electrical engineering, each discussed examples of ways data were used to monitor and especially to improve outcomes of students.

Brett Everhard, Ed.D., special assistant to the provost for assessment and accreditation at Lock Haven University, led a discussion of the University’s newly-developed Comprehensive Plan for Sustaining Assessment Practices to Enhance Student Learning. During the discussion, he reviewed some of the processes, matrix and data used by Lock Haven.

Brian Snapp, associate director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and instructional curriculum designer, and Richard Walsh, assistant provost for operations, demonstrated ways in which technology can be used to gather and analyze data on student outcomes. They also reviewed various matrices available to faculty, which provide a structural base that can be adapted and incorporated into curricula in multiple disciplines.

The institute concluded with a film, presentation and workshop led by filmmaker Julia Haslett that focused on ways to incorporate aspects of Ignatian pedagogy and evaluation into courses through the lens of documentary filmmaking. Haslett is particularly interested in questions of empathy, attention and the complex dynamics of bearing witness. Her feature-length documentary, “An Encounter with Simone Weil,” won Michael Moore’s Special Founder's Prize at the Traverse City Film Festival and was a New York Magazine Critic’s Pick during its 2012 U.S. theatrical run. Education for Justice co-sponsored this session.

The University’s Office of Educational Assessment organized the institute, which met on Fridays in January. For additional information, contact Mary Jane K. DiMattio, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing and director of educational assessment, at

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