One of the joys of Institutional Effectiveness is when we can celebrate our strengths as an institution and learn best practices from our own faculty and staff. The Enhancement Spotlight features how Mississippi State's faculty and staff use the assessment process to improve their programs and services.
Associate Professor and Associate Director, School of Architecture and Director of Fifth-Year Program
STARKVILLE, Miss. — In the School of Architecture, assessment is continuously informing improvements in courses from semester to semester. Jassen Callender, Associate Professor and Associate Director of the School of Architecture and Director of the Fifth-Year Program in Jackson, says that faculty frequently make changes to their syllabi and project designs based on discussions at end-of-year faculty meetings.
Using various forms of assessment, Callender and other Architecture faculty are able to adjust or revise course work and assignments to best suit a cohort’s needs. He says that although their student learning outcomes come from their accrediting body, the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), “within that, in terms of how we deliver [instruction], I think we are constantly reinventing ways to teach that content better.” Many of these changes begin with the feedback faculty offer each other at the end-of-year faculty meeting, where all faculty members discuss their courses, results, and how those results differed from expectations.
As Director of the fifth-year program in Jackson, Callender also visits the Starkville campus for fourth-year student reviews in order to plan his fall studio course. These visits allow him to “see what their strengths are, and we get to see what we perceive to be the weaknesses and pick up on what the agenda has been from the previous year […] we want to make sure that we shift the focus in the fifth year.” These visits allow Callender to spend the summer planning fall courses in a way that is best suited to incoming students.
One of the most effective approaches to using assessment to improve student learning is talking about assessment with them, says Callender. “Get the students involved early on in restating the goals of the class—have them put the rubric in their own language. This dialogue with students helps us move them in the right direction.”
If you or someone you know would like to be recognized for committment to assessment and enhancement, please contact Ed Dechert.