Nine grants recently were awarded to faculty for projects to improve teaching and learning assessment at Washington State University. This is the third year the grants have funded undergraduate teaching and learning projects; however, the content of this year’s projects and the collaborators involved highlight a sharper focus on assessment and on improvements at the program and department levels.

The projects focus on assessment of entire programs, or outcomes measured throughout a complete curriculum, department or college. Collaborators tend to be from one program or to share a focused area of interest. This focus reinforces the goal of consensus building among all faculty in a program or department.

Such across-the-board faculty involvement has been described by Tom Matthews, WSU assistant vice provost for educational assessment, as a crucial step in the process of developing successful methods of assessment and instruction.

The Office of Undergraduate Education sponsors the annual grants in order to improve assessment of undergraduate learning outcomes and to enhance instructional practices. This is part of the OUE’s efforts to fulfill the first goal of the WSU strategic plan: To offer the best undergraduate experience in a research university.

Those awarded 2005 Teaching and Learning Assessment Grants are:
Bob Harder, Candace Chenoweth and Meggan Madden, “Maximizing the Study Abroad Assessment Program.”
Siskanna Naynaha, George Kennedy and Wendy Olson, “Exploring Learning Communities as a Site for Improving Students’ First-Year Experience.”
Lisa Morris, Bill Cofer, Rollin Hotchkiss, Dave Pollock and Dave Stock, “Designing Outcomes and Activities to Promote Design Skills in Civil and Environmental Engineering Core Courses.”
Kimberly Vincent, William Condon, David Stock and Alan Genz, “Quantitative Literacy Across the Curriculum — Integrating a Broader Learning Goal in the Major.”
Yolanda Flores Niemann and Joan Anderson, “Harnessing Collaborative Technologies for Outcomes Assessment at Washington State University.
• Raymond Jussaume, Annabel Kirschner, Emmett Fisk and Leland Glenna, “Department of Community and Rural Sociology Program Outcomes: Towards Global Literacy.”
Catherine Perillo, Kathleen Willemsen, Teresa Cerny-Koenig, Bill Pan, Bill Hendrix, Bill Johnston and Larry Hiller, “Developing a Learning Outcome Assessment in Plant and Soil Sciences.”
Dogan Gursoy and Nancy Swanger, “Undergraduate Teaching and Learning Assessment: School of Hospitality Business Management Required Course Learning Outcomes and Assessments.”
Libby Walker, R. Wes Leid, Rachel Halverson and Ana Maria Rodriguez-Vivaldi, “Assessing Foreign Language Proficiency for a New Honors College Learning Outcome.”

Criteria used to assess the proposals included:
• Defining learning outcomes
• Developing an assessment strategy and process
• Collecting/analyzing learning outcome data for information that guides changes in pedagogy and curriculum
• Establishing a timeline for implementation of changes
• Using available resources to build a system sustainable beyond the funding period
• Establishing milestones and funding contingencies to guarantee full implementation.

The projects must be completed by Dec. 30.

More information on the grant program may be found at http://provost.wsu.edu/undergraduate_grants/index.html.