Leslie Gordon practices what she preaches in the Office of Academic Planning.
The associate director for assessment has taken her own advice for evaluating assessment practices and has used them to retool the classes she teaches in Spanish linguistics.
“It made me look at my course development in a new way,” Gordon said. “I’m my own guinea pig, and I can personally attest to it.”
Gordon wants to help professors and administrators at UGA think of assessment as a tool instead of a reporting burden, which is why she encourages them to study their practices before an official program review is conducted.
“I try to take departments, colleges and individuals beyond the perceived burden of assessment,” Gordon said. “It becomes a tool for teaching as opposed to just paperwork.”
Gordon describes sound assessment practice as similar to any scholarly endeavor: It starts with a question. The evaluation begins by asking what a professor wants his or her students to learn and selecting the measures to show if they are in fact learning that material. After information is gathered and patterns are identified, that evidence is used to improve processes.
“I try to make the process more logical, more useful, more meaningful,” Gordon said.
While professors sometimes have a perception that the assessment process is intended to find out what they are doing wrong, Gordon stresses that it is not designed to punish or discourage, and that evaluations of assessment practices are not tied to salary or individual performance
The evaluation is led entirely by faculty, she added, describing her role as a facilitator and educator of best practices. Gordon recently began teaching a yearlong course on the subject, and she also is available to meet with departments or individuals, schedule a series of workshops or consult in other contexts.
“My role is to help faculty evaluate their assessment processes better, so assessments aren’t burdensome and uncover more clearly what the students are learning and what they aren’t learning,” Gordon said. “It’s not about finding out how good or bad a teacher you are but whether the curriculum and program help students learn what you believe they should-and knowing whether you are improving.”
To discuss how Gordon and the Office of Academic Planning can help a program, contact her via email at email@example.com or at 706-425-2913.