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University establishes assessment excellence award

April 30, 2008

KALAMAZOO--The University Assessment Steering Committee has created an award to recognize and showcase outstanding efforts in the area of assessment at Western Michigan University.

In selecting University Assessment Excellence Award recipients, UASC will acknowledge individuals and/or units whose assessment activities have led to verifiable improvements in academic or other programs.

"Assessment is fundamentally the systematic collection and use of information about student learning and student engagement that leads to program improvement," says Dr. Eileen B. Evans, WMU vice provost for institutional effectiveness. "It plays a vital role in helping the faculty and staff determine how to improve academic programs and services, thus allowing the University to meet its mission and institutional goals."

Evans notes that assessment is also a key factor that many external specialized program accreditation bodies consider when reviewing WMU's programs. In addition, the Higher Learning Commission, WMU's regional accrediting body, cites student learning and effective teaching as one of five criteria for institutional accreditation.

The University Assessment Excellence Award includes both an individual and a unit award.

The individual award is open to employees who have authored or co-authored an article about assessment or assessment activities. Winners of the individual award, which is expected to be presented annually, will receive a cash prize as well as campuswide recognition.

The unit award is open to academic departments and non-instructional units that have a UASC-approved assessment plan. Normally, the unit award will be made every other year and coincide with the submission of biannual assessment reports at WMU. Winners of this honor will receive a commemorative plaque in addition to campuswide recognition.

UASC is WMU's assessment policy, planning and resource coordination body. Membership consists of faculty, staff and students representing the academic colleges, the Office of Information Technology, the Graduate College, Extended University Programs, the Division of Student Affairs, University Libraries, international programs and area studies, undergraduate and graduate studies councils, academic advisors, student organizations and the WMU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

UASC also awards grants for research on assessment and conducts the Panels on Assessment: Training, Help and Support, or PATHS program, which is a series of assessment panel discussions that provide a forum for exchanging ideas and building practical knowledge.

Applications for WMU's assessment excellence awards must be submitted no later than Sept. 15. Recipients will be announced by Oct. 10. Unit award applications must be submitted in the same year that the unit submits its biannual report.

More information about the University Assessment Excellence Award is available online at www.wmich.edu/poapa/uac or by contacting Dr. Eileen Evans at eileen.evans@wmich.edu or (269) 387-0399.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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