The University of Arizona

Assessment Institute Story

The Inaugural Session of the SAEM/AISS Assessment Institute provides real world training for discovering assessment insights

The first class of graduates of the Assessment Institute, with Marla Franco and Lucas Schalewski, program heads

Top, from left to right: Joshua Steele, Christine Carlson, Lucas Schalewski, Kimberly Pellegrini, Roberto Cruz
Middle, from left to right: Veronica Cruz-Mercado, Leslie Grignon, Janelle Holyoak, Victoria Adams
Bottom, from left to right: Michelle Galambos, Samantha Becker, Kayla Harvey, Marla Franco, Brandi VanOrder

Beth Miller
Office of Student Engagement & Enrollment Management,
Academic Initiatives & Student Success

The Assessment Institute, a new UA initiative led by the Office of Assessment and Research within the division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Academic Initiatives and Student Success recently congratulated its first cohort with a culminating event highlighting their data-informed insights.

This year-long program is one of several professional development tracks sponsored by the division, providing professionals and graduate assistants the opportunity to develop assessment knowledge, engage in critical assessment inquiry, and hone their skills in conducting outcomes-based assessment. Twelve staff/graduate assistants from a broad range of areas within the division were selected to engage in an interactive learning environment blending instruction with the application of newly acquired assessment skills.

With support from the Office of Assessment and Research, a capstone project required participants to address an unmet assessment need in their respective departments, allowing participants to apply the assessment cycle from beginning to end.  These capstone assessment projects covered a broad and exciting range of topics including:

  • Measuring the development of nutrition knowledge among student athletes and other physically active students through the Eat Like a CHAMP program
  • Assessment of learning among participants of a Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Program funded by the State of Arizona Department of Health Services.
  • Analyzing SchoolsApp data to determine if significant differences exist between student groups in their participation in this university-branded online community for incoming and continuing students.

Marla Franco, Director, Assessment &Research, who co-developed the academy, spoke to the benefits of the initiative across the university, “The institute is key to advancing the assessment capacity of the division in new and engaging ways.  I’m really proud of the work that the cohort put into this experience.  Their assessment capstone projects are really impressive and have revealed key insights regarding student learning and program effectiveness at the UA.”  

All participants immediately realized the benefits of their Academy experience while they developed their projects. As Christine Carlson, Assistant Director, Nutrition/Registered Dietitian, Arizona Student Unions, and head of the Eat Like a Champ program, said, “I think during the first cohort meeting, I mentioned my hopes were to learn how to better tell the story of the Student Union’s nutrition programming.   I think this is definitely the toolbox you have given me!  I appreciate being able to talk out ideas with you and always leave with a clearer picture of how to illustrate the story with organized data.”  

The Assessment Institute has been recognized with an article in the Winter NASPA Region VI newsletter, and will continue with another cohort this fall.