Consistency - Assessment: The Roadmap

Comments at the Worldwide Directors Meeting

There is an age old saying that the apple does not fall too far from the tree. It is universal in its meaning and its application is real. This is a saying that speaks to responsibility and accountability. I have found this saying to be relevant to the Assessment Initiative currently underway in the School of Business. The saying gives relevance to the journey that lies ahead.

Consistency ensures that the curriculum in all of our programs is validated for substance and outcomes across the institution.

Assessment is the process whereby we measure that the learning outcomes are being learned by the students. In a passing discussion with Larry Haffner, Webster's CIO said it best, “It's hard to assess consistently when you have consistent outcomes and expectations.”

We can assess our programs only if there is one curriculum in place across the world of Webster and only if we have a roadmap which defines where we are going to validate that learning is taking place.

I like to think of consistency and assessment as the School of Business and Technology's most important continuous improvement project. In fact I see it in an institutional imperative, since 70% of what we know as Webster resides in the school.

We'd like to think this will give us a competitive advantage, but the truth is that our competitors are doing the same thing. In fact, some of them are way ahead of us.

Today, all higher education institutions are being challenged by assessment because of the requirement changes for accreditation. However Webster faces challenges that most others do not have to address, and that is to incorporate assessment across the complexity and scale of an institution with a multi-campus system. In response to this present challenge we have developed a comprehensive process that will allow us to create a culture of assessment across all of Webster. My friends, we cannot afford to work at cross purposes because our perceived goals and priorities differ. This project is too important for us not to be on the same page.

We are forging a new territory and on this road it will necessitate that changes will occur as we learn and evaluate what works and what doesn't. As we work through assessment, we will learn how to improve student learning. The feedback we receive will lead us to modify assignments and rubrics, the faculty course guide and the curriculum may undergo changes. This is the intent of assessment – to recognize where we are doing well and to pinpoint areas where improvement is necessary.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to our regional academic directors for their counsel and contribution to the assessment project over the past year. They openly embraced this initiative and fought through the complexities. They helped create the processes that enhanced our communication and positioned us for the journey ahead.

I leave you with some closing thoughts.

Consistency and assessment is about the fulfillment of promises. It's important for our students and to the employers that pay their tuition. It is important to our accreditors and licensing agencies. It is important for the credibility of Webster University.

Our first stop on this journey is self study, which we are less than a year away, but our ultimate destination is to become an institution that is respected by our students, recognized for our excellence and never satisfied with our current reality.

In closing, I would like to remind you that the future of Webster University rests squarely on your shoulders. I believe that the future belongs to those who can see it. We have a big job ahead of us and it will take the collective effort of all of us to reach the goal we so eagerly seek. I am confident that together we will get there.

Introduction of Pat Masidonski

I believe that effective leadership can not be exercised alone – in fact more can be accomplished when you lead with an individual who is equally committed to the virtues of excellence, quality and team work. Please welcome a valuable member of our team in the School of Business, associate dean extraordinaire, Pat Masidonski.