My goal is to improve the quality of teaching and learning in higher education, as well as to give students, faculty and staff a better experience by addressing issues of equity and inclusion. I have worked on assessment, faculty development, instructional design and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). I am currently the Assistant Director of Assessment and Evaluation for The Center for Teaching and Learning at Washington University in St. Louis.
In my previous position at Cornell University, I was affiliated with Cornell's Active Learning Initiative. Each semester I worked with an instructor and a team of TAs, serving as the course’s educational expert. I collaborated with the faculty member to design active learning interventions for the lecture portions of the course, and worked with the TAs to make active learning materials for the TA-led discussion sections. In addition, I collected and analyzed a variety of data to assess the program's impact, including custom assessments, student evaluations, structured observations (COPUS), and ethnographic fieldnotes. Some of these data were then used in SoTL research projects on effective teaching methods.
For me, assessment is not about simply measuring program or student outcomes. Instead, the main purpose of assessment is to engage and improve the learning and teaching processes of both students and faculty. I try to think creatively about how to best incorporate assessments into courses in ways that increase student learning, as well as how to use assessment in centers for teaching and learning to increase engagement with faculty and increase the effectiveness of programming.
My background has shown me the strengths of existing assessment practices, but also convinced me of the need to develop new tools and strategies. Some items can be measured very well quantitatively with existing instruments, such as student learning in subjects with clear right and wrong answers, the amount of class time an instructor spends lecturing, or the number of participants in teaching center programs. Other areas, however, will require a new mix of quantitative and qualitative strategies to adequately describe the effect of individual interventions and overall programs.
Examples of areas that could benefit the most from such innovation include measuring learning gains in the humanities and humanistic social sciences, measuring the broader impact of teaching center programs, as well as measuring the impact of teaching interventions on classroom climate, especially in the areas of diversity and inclusivity. Much of the existing work on classroom climate, for example, relies on student feedback surveys and quantitative measures of student performance and classroom behavior, but the addition of linked qualitative observational data would greatly improve our understanding of classroom behaviors and their impacts.