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LAU center helps other universities acquire program assessment skills

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Faculty members from nine regional universities across all fields participated in the workshop organized by LAU's Center for Program and Learning Assessment, March 22–23.

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Dr. Mary J. Allen, who has served as an assessment and accreditation consultant for several colleges and universities in the United States, says that the main goal of assessment is to monitor and improve student learning.

March 26, 2010—

LAU’s Center for Program and Learning Assessment continued providing other educational institutions with valuable skills needed to enhance student learning through assessment, with its latest workshop for dozens of educators from nine universities across the region this month.

Held at LAU Beirut from March 22-23, the workshop was led by Dr. Mary J. Allen, who has served as an assessment and accreditation consultant for several colleges and universities in the United States, including as part of her work with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), one of six official U.S. regional associations that accredit universities, colleges, and schools in the United States and foreign institutions of American origin.

The workshop emphasized that assessment must be ongoing and sustainable to ensure the best learning outcomes for students.

“We don’t do assessment because some accreditator or provost tells us that we have to do it,” said Allen, who also taught psychology and held various high-level administrative positions at California State University, Bakersfield, for around 30 years. “We do assessment to monitor and improve our students’ learning — We are professional educators and learning is our product.”

In a nutshell, assessment entails collecting and examining evidence to find out how well students are learning and to indicate the integrity of a teaching/learning program.

“If [assessment reveals that] the students are not learning, you do something to change the learning environment to make sure that students are more successful in the future,” she said. “That’s really what assessment is all about.”

The gathering was the third in a CPLA-organized series of four workshops and two conferences on program and learning assessment funded by the Ford Foundation. The final workshop will be held in June, followed by the last regional conference in September — for which the center has announced a call for papers.

“So far the series has been great and well taken by everybody,” says Dr. Rima Bahous, CPLA director and associate professor of education at LAU. “I’m not sure if they are putting everything they learned into practice but pretty soon they will be held accountable for it,” she adds.

Bahous also noted that a major part for LAU to meet accreditation standards hinges on program and learning assessment.


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