Podcast Recommendation: Show About Race

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I love podcasts. My current favorite is Our National Conversation about Conversations about Race (a.k.a. “Show About Race”) with co-discussants Raquel Cepeda, Baratunde Thurston, and Tanner Colby. They describe their podcast as:

Authors Baratunde Thurston (How To Be Black), Raquel Cepeda (Bird Of Paradise: How I Became Latina) and Tanner Colby (Some Of My Best Friends Are Black) host a lively multiracial, interracial conversation about the ways we can’t talk, don’t talk, would rather not talk, but intermittently, fitfully, embarrassingly do talk about culture, identity, politics, power, and privilege in our pre-post-yet-still-very-racial America. This show is “About Race.”

show about race logoWHAT AN EXCELLENT PODCAST!

I so enjoy and appreciate this show – this is important stuff (holy understatement, Batman) and their conversations inform and challenge me in the way that all people (but especially me as a white person) should be about power, privilege, race, etc.This trio’s thoughtful and frank conversations keep these topics/issues/people’s lived experiences at the forefront of my thinking about collecting data in higher education, assessing learning, and meeting the needs of all students.

Show About Race also posts a response episode during the off-weeks called the B-side, on which they read listener feedback about the previous show as well as reflect on their conversation and clarify/expand on their comments. I like the B-side as much as the regular show because it feels like a rare opportunity to have a discussion, get feedback and time to reflect on it, and then come back and discuss it again (and in a public forum!). It also happens to cater to my enjoyment of talking…about talking (can you tell I’m an extrovert???).

Get to iTunes (or your favorite podcast app) and subscribe to Show About Race. My favorite episodes so far have been #009 about white fragility and #002 about many things and colorism. Cannot wait to hear more!

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For the Love of Counting: The Response Rate Rat Race

2015-03-14_OhNoLogo22-abby3I’m in the midst of our annual summer experiences survey – my office’s push to understand what do students do over the summer? And is it meaningful? We know that getting ALL students to respond to our 3-12* question survey would be near impossible, but, as the assessment person on the team, it’s my job to always chase that dream (let’s be real, it’s my obsession to chase that dream!). And at a small institution like where I work getting a response rate of 100% (~1500 students) is seemingly an attainable goal. But this raises so many questions for me.

A little bit of context about the survey. Students do many valuable things over the summer that add meaning to their college experience; the particular subsection of this data that chiefly interests me (as I rep the Career Center) is the number of students who intern.

Common statistical wisdom would tell me that if I am indeed going to report on how many students intern over the summer then I need a certain response rate in order to make an accurate, broader statement about what percentage of Carleton students intern. This stats wisdom is based on a few factors: my population size, my sample size, and the margin of error with which I’m comfortable (I know, I know…ugh, statistic terms. Or maybe some of you are saying YAY! Statistic terms! Don’t let me stereotype you):

Population size = 1500 (all the upperclass students)

Sample size = 1275 (well…this is the goal…which is an 85% response rate…but do I need this # to be accurate and broad?? Hmm…better look at what margin of error I’m comfortable with…)

Margin of error = um…no error??? Baaaahhhh statistics! Sorry readers, I’m not a stats maven. But that’s ok, because SurveyMonkey greatly helped me to determine this

Margin of Error

Ok, so if I want to be SUPER confident (99%) then my goal of 1,275 students (or an 85% response rate) will get me a VERY small margin of error (read: this is good). But, turns out if I look at this from the angle of sample size, I could have the same small margin of error if I only had 1,103 students respond (74% response rate).

Sample Size

So, at this point, I could ask: Why the heck am I busting my butt to get those extra 11% of respondents??? YARG! And statistically, that would be a valid question.

But I don’t ask that question. I know I chase the 85% and 100% response rate dream because I aim to serve ALL students. And even if statistically all the students after 1,103 respond consistently, there is likely an outlier…one or a few student stories that tell me something that the first 1,103 couldn’t that shape a better student experience for all.

So to all of you regardless of if you have a relatively small population size (like me) or a much larger one (hint, Mark, Michigan Engineering, hint), I say keep up the good work trying to reach and understand the stories of 100% of your students. It may be an impossible dream but that doesn’t make it any less worthy a pursuit.

*3-12 question survey based on what the student did over the summer - skip logic, woot woot!

Stay the Course: Reminders for When Assessment Gets Messy

2015-03-14_OhNoLogo22-abby3My friends for the assessment revolution! My office is gearing up to take the next step in our learning outcomes assessment efforts. I’m VERY excited! It’s going to be fun, intellectually and professionally fulfilling, and (most importantly and hopefully) provide meaningful insight into the student experience. But in addition to excitement, I am also a bit nervous, because, as you’ve likely noticed, measuring for learning is messy – which is the largest part of its difficulty, but, also, its beauty. In my research about student learning and assessment over the past few years I’ve come to learn that it’s not just me who’s feeling this way:

In watching videos like the above and reading anything I can get my hands on, I’m hearing a few common themes (some old, some new) that I’m keeping in mind during this big year for our assessment efforts in the Career Center:

  1. Assess learning not just once, but at multiple different points and from different parts of the student experience. (read: Learning is happening all over campus, thus, assessing learning all over campus is not just a good idea, but needed.)
  2. Give students multiple opportunities to practice their learning in high-touch, intentional, reflection-centric ways. (read: It’s going to take a lot of time, there’s no quick fix, so settle in for the long haul and love the process.)
  3. Assessment tells the story of student learning, but let the student be the narrator. (read: Ask students to narrate their learning and they will tell you! Their story IS your assessment data. Now use that data to tell the larger story of student learning at large.)
  4. Set up assessment to do double duty for you – it can be a learning tool in it of itself, in addition to a data collection. 

    “…a really interesting kind of analytics should reveal to the learner even more possibilities for their own connected learning. The analytics shouldn’t simply be a kind of a diagnosis of what’s happening now but analytics at their best can be a doorway that suggests what else is possible.” -Gardner Campbell, Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success at Virginia Commonweath University

  5. Follow best practices in assessment while also breaking the mold, because learning’s blessed messiness means it’ll always need more than the gold standard. (read: Follow and break the “rules” of assessment at the same time – simple, right????)

It might be a messy year in assessment, but that’s ok, because it’s a worthwhile pursuit. And as my supervisor reminded me when I was wigging out about it recently: remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

So commit to the adventure and just do it.

Assessment on the Road: Boise State

Images of Idaho

My summer of travel is sadly coming to an end. I just got back from one of my last destinations: Idaho! (Boise, to be exact) It was my inaugural trip and I’m happy to report back what so many already know: Idaho is beautiful. (Thanks Wear Boise for the great beard image!)

Being the lover of colleges and campuses that I am, I had to visit Boise State University while I was there. By all of the extra signage around campus, clearly I was there on a summer orientation day (which I love because I love orientation).

Boise Career Center welcome

Once again, the Career Center of this new-to-me campus grabbed my attention. I REALLY loved their graphic representation of their career learning goals. What a great way to be transparent about and engage students in what goals the Career Center has for students. I think that is a pivotal step to students actually successfully learning and achieving those goals!

CC make it count detail

Another data visualization from Boise State that I loved was through their admission office. Here’s what I love about it:

It’s simple. Easy graphics, consistent color palette. Clean.

BSU data brochure5

It has numbers AND text. They bring life and strength to each other.

BSU data brochure

There is lots of different kinds of data. I think more and more the public wants LOTS of data all at once so that they can quickly skim and find what is most meaningful to them.

BSU dad brochure2

It’s a nice size. Folds up as a small brochure (6″x3″) and folds out as a small poster (18″x12″).

BSU data brochure3

It’s a nice paper weight. I know, this sounds weird, but if you’re going to be printing nice graphics, you want to have nice paper on which to put them.

Thanks for the great visit Boise State U! Until next time!

Assessment on the Go!

2015-03-14_OhNoLogo22-abby3Summer is busy! Between attending conferences, catching up on planning items, and (hopefully) a little R&R, people are here, there, and everywhere. What’s a data head to do?

As you know, my summer goals include all things data visualizations. In my search for learning and inspiration, I stumbled across the podcast Data Stories. With my 32-minute commute to work everyday, listening to hosts Moritz and Enrico on Data Stories is perfect. I first got hooked on an episode with Miriah Meyer about exploratory data viz tools. Imagine talking about data visualizations, data tools, and methods with your friends – that’s Data Stories. Was Miriah’s research waaaaay beyond me?? Yes. BUT it was so enjoyable to listen their banter AND it gave me lot of ideas, so I was drawn back to DS for more.

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Here’s why I like it:

  • Data + friendship = my favorite
  • Cataloged points in each episode, so you can pick and choose the parts of an individual episode you want to listen to – just visit their website. Some of the episode topics are over my head, so this is a useful tool!
  • Learn, get inspired, and brainstorm ideas all while on your way to work
  • Resources galore – they always provide related and discussed links from each episode on their website – very handy!
  • You can subscribe (read: automatic updates! no thinking invovled!)

Go ahead, peruse the Data Stories archives, get onto your favorite podcast app, and binge! Next in my queue are about data art and data journalism. The perfect complement to a summer on the go.

See you next week!

Higher Ed Abroad: A Photo Tour

Scotland 2015 009I just returned from a lovely trip to Scotland. I spent time in St. Andrew’s, the home of the University of St. Andrew’s…you know…where Wills and Kate met?? NBD. The fun part (besides the whole “being in a different country” thang) was that it was commencement day! Below are some of my shots from around campus.

Red Gown – At first glance, these students seem like they’re slouching but current students wear them differently based on their class year. Fun.

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THE CAREER CENTER! Or should I say CareerS CentRE.

Career Center poster set up

Signs from other offices – Residence Life (“Accommodation Services“) & Student Services (“Advice & Support Centre“):

offices

Last but not least, a chapel involved in some of the graduation proceedings. WOW!

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See you next week!

Visualization Mapping

2015-03-14_OhNoLogo22-abby3I’m on an Edward Tufte kick – you’ll see this throughout the summer from me. I went to Edward Tufte’s one day course a month ago (I HIGHLY recommend it for anyone interested in doing data visualizations). One newer thing that Tufte showcased was an app he designed with Adam Schwartz called ImageQuilts (IQ). It’s an app that works with Chrome. (After you download the app) When you Google Image Search something you can click the “IQ” button next to your browser IQ app button and have it make a collage (“quilt”) of the images. Very cool. You can change each image’s size, pick what goes into the collage, use grayscale, etc. I’ve used it to quickly map ideas for how to best visualize data about student learning, or how to best use Excel 2013, or to make a visual list of the best task apps (it’s a summer goal). Instead of having a written list of ideas, I now have a visual list of ideas. Not to mention, IQ makes great quick images for presentations. IQ has been helpful in my quest to do better and more compelling visualizations with my data.

Here’s *one I made of my summer travels (can you tell where I’m headed this summer???? I’ll give you a hint: there are 5 locations total):

Abby travels image

You can download ImageQuilts in the Chrome Web Store. It’s free! There are easy instructions on the ImageQuilt website (as well as some examples). So go ahead you assessment geeks and play around with IQ and see how it helps you. I’d love to see what you make!

*Quick disclaimer: I created none of these images. They were gathered by Google Image Search. I take no credit for any individual image.

Data Viz

It’s FRIDAY! And it’s SUMMER! Which is a winning combination. Enjoy this excellent short video from PBS about data visualizations:

Summer Schedule – We hope you’re all enjoying your summer. I’m jet setting left-and-right, and Mark is orienting new wolverines – FUN! So for the summer season, we’ll be posting once a week. We’ll get back in to the swing of more frequent postings in August. Have a great weekend! See you next week!

Assessment in the Sun: Summer To Do List

2015-03-14_OhNoLogo22-abby3It’s summer and while I’m excited  to relax, I’m also looking forward to CRUSHING my summer office to-do list. There are many tangible items I need to complete (like hanging these 2 pictures that’ve been on my desk for 2 years – bah!), but with more consecutive hours of uninterpreted think time in this season, I’m focusing on those to-do’s that are less task-y and more nebulous. Most of the listed items center around the theme of “get caught up on thinking” – reflecting on our programs and learning goals and what is needed to make these more effective. So here I am, declaring to the world (well…er…the tiny portion of the world who reads this blog) my non-S.M.A.R.T. (yet smart?) assessment goals for the summer season. Maybe some of them will be similar to or complement assessment summer goals of your own (or not!):

  1. Check in with the office’s overall purpose and place in the institutional goals (read: are we on the right direction?)
    1. Review the College’s strategic plan (for the billionth time, but still, I see some part of it differently every time)
    2. Review the office mission statement (and fully memorize it…right now I know it like people know the song Sweet Caroline – I am confident and loud during the favorite parts and then mumble the rest)
    3. Review office 2014-2015 goals
  2. Channel the greats of compelling visual storytelling
    1. Edward Tufte
      1. “Loot” (as ET would say) through Beautiful EvidenceBea Evi coverand The Visual Display of Quantitative InformationVis Display cover
    2. David McCandless
      1. Watch his TED Talk The beauty of data visualization 
    3. Maria Popova
      1. Brain Pickings
    4. The New York Times
  3. Learn a lot of needed stuff (I warned you that these wouldn’t be S.M.A.R.T.!)
    1. Check out my Lynda.com playlist for the summerLynda.com watch list
  4. Figure out the impossible secret solution to how to effectively simultaneously manage (read: juggle like crazy) the dream and the details…the big picture and the little picture…the yearly and the daily…whatever you call it
    1. Commit to relationship with ONE task app (currently I’m courting about 4 – successfully but inefficiently)
    2. Which task apps do you all like? Trello? DropTask? Google Tasks?
  5. Hang those two damn pictures on my desk! Arggg!! (Ok, not an assessment goal, but important nonetheless…)

What’s on your summer assessment to-do list?

High Impact Practices: Resources

2015-03-14_OhNoLogo22-abby3Hands-on learning, experiential education, engaged learning, whatever you may call it, student affairs professionals can agree that creating an environment in which students test, reflect upon, and reapply their learning will result in better outcomes (read: more bang for your higher education buck). We know this anecdotally but the High Impact Practices (HIP) research out there provides the data to support the level of engagement HIP have on the collegiate experience as well as gives professionals ideas and steps for how to enact all of this goodness (or more likely maximize what you already have). What is clear in all of the research is that the next level of this engaged learning is not the mere existence of experiential education, but rather that students have multiple opportunities to engage in high impact learning and that we properly assess these efforts and students’ level of learning.

Provided today at Oh no are resources for you to dive in more…

According to the George Kuh via NSSE, high impact practices:

  • demand considerable time and effort,
  • facilitate learning outside of the classroom,
  • require meaningful interactions with faculty and students,
  • encourage collaboration with diverse others, and
  • provide frequent and substantive feedback

Below are the most widely held examples for HIPs from AAC&U:

HIP_tables (1)-page-001

On the NSSE website, you can build your own report with the data they’ve collected in 2013 and 2014 – so fun!! Give it a try and sift through it to review the fun findings. Have I mentioned FUN!

Ashley Finley (on behalf of the AAC&U) provides some brief (though important) thoughts on proper execution of HIPs:

Other Videos to Watch (or more likely, just listen to in the background while you work on something else and occasionally look at):

  • George Kuh presentation about HIPs:

  • Ashley Finley’s plenary presentation about integrative learning:

What high impact practices are you working within? Where have you found success?