UNI recognized for student-learning assessment

The University of Northern Iowa was one of only seven colleges in the country this year to receive the Excellence in Assessment designation in recognition of its continual efforts to ensure the education it provides sets students up for success.

Co-sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Voluntary System of Accountability, and in collaboration with the Association of American Colleges & Universities and the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, the designation is the first national designation of its kind. It spotlights institutions that successfully integrate assessment practices across an institution, provide evidence of student learning, and use assessment results to guide institutional decision-making and improve student performance.

“UNI is deeply honored to receive this designation,” said UNI Provost Jim Wohlpart. “We have been working over the last several years to develop meaningful and sustainable assessment practices that lead to changes in our curriculum and our teaching practices. We share the results across the faculty in order to foster innovation and continuous improvement, all as a part of our institutional focus on student success and student learning.”

As part of the designation application process, UNI was asked not just to detail the specific assessment activities they’ve undertaken, but also the reason why such efforts are a priority for them. The designees needed to demonstrate how aligned processes, building from classroom-based assessment, foster a coherent, collaborative approach to assessing student learning.

The designation highlighted UNI’s integrated and transparent assessment approach, which involves an extensive assessment plan with collaborative opportunities for discussion among faculty and staff.

UNI’s annual set of data-based “Vitality Metrics,” produced to complement information from student-learning outcomes assessment, equips faculty and staff with the ability to use evidence of student learning to improve their own teaching and learning practice. 

“Looking for ways to improve student learning is the ongoing and constant work of a good teacher,” said Deirdre Heistad, executive director of undergraduate studies at UNI. “This designation recognizes, above all, UNI’s commitment to academic excellence. Not only does this award confirm that UNI’s continuous and transparent assessment processes reflect best practice, but recognizes UNI as a national leader in student learning outcomes assessment."