Assessment in a Year: A Sincere Thank You

2015-03-14_OhNoLogo22-abby3 - headshot of AbbyOn No is a year old this month. Can you believe it?! What a year it’s been! I remember how it all started, like it was yesterday. Mark and I were up at the crack of dawn (which is our norm) during one of the few times a year that we’re actually in the same state, sitting in his kitchen discussing the idea of generating a conversation about assessment in student affairs and higher education. We simply didn’t know who (if anyone!) would want to participate. We thought, Well if nothing else we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing (which is either talking to each other about assessment or boring our respective significant others with our assessment talk), it’d merely be on a blog instead of via Google Hangout. But you all and our amazing guest bloggers made this year meaningful and brought in much needed topics we had been missing. Wow. THANK YOU all sincerely for reading, liking, reposting/sharing/retweeting, and sharing with us how this thing we love/hate called assessment looks in your world.

blogiversary ee card: "Happy blogiversary! Here's to another five years of beginning every day wondering if an event is blog-worthy or not. It always is."I’m excited about our future at Oh No. Here’s what it looks like so far:

  1. More guests: You all love reading our guest bloggers (and so do Mark and I). We will have as many as we can get! If you want to write about any assessment aspect (or maybe you know someone who you wish would write a post), PLEASE let us know!
  2. More time for simmering (read: less posts): I cannot count the number of people who tell me that they like the blog but they can’t keep up with the volume. WHAT?! You mean constantly talking about assessment 3x/week EVERY week doesn’t endlessly interest you????? Of course not, Abby and Mark! Duh! It can be overwhelming on your limited time (for us too!), so we’ve already been paring it down considerably.
  3. A new look is coming: GET EXCITED!!!! I know we are!!! Oh No is getting a facelift, so stay tuned!

Again, we cannot thank you all enough for reading and engaging in this assessment conversation with us. It’s so much more fun with you! Cheers to another year!

Podcast Recommendation: Show About Race



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!

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.

reunion scotland

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“):


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

Scotland 2015 005

See you next week!

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!

Data Patterns of Love

T.G.I.F. y’all. Enjoy these “Mathematically Verifiable tips for Love” – brought to you by Hannah Fry, Prezi and TED.

math of loveLook through Hannah’s Prezi too. Very cool!

Data-dive into Memorial Day

Alright you assessment lovers it’s Memorial Day. We all serve veterans as students on our campuses in some form. Today I hope you remember the fallen, thank a veteran, and, perhaps, eat a hot dog (or portobello pup). Here is a brief look at some information (and fun facts!) about this day of remembrance:

Ten Things You Should Know About Today’s Student Veteran – by Alison Lighthall (2012, via the NEA). In my quest to raise my own awareness of the student veteran population and their needs, this provided an enlightening overview.

How Countries Around the World Celebrate Memorial Day – TIME Magazine looks at how other countries celebrate their take on Memorial Day. New Zealand’s commemoration involves gambling. Fun. Watch the video on the history of Memorial Day too.

Memorial Day Weekend Traffic, Sales, & More, by the NumbersMONEY Magazine reviews the stats from Memorial Day weekend. This number…WOW!

hot dog

Memorial Day Weekend By the NumbersTravel + Leisure gives an interesting run down; watch your speed and avoid the zoo!


Take a quiet moment to honor the veterans in your life. The National Moment of Remembrance is 3:00pm today.

 Thank you to those who’ve served our country, past and present. 


Assessment Life: Assessment People are People Too

Assessment is not just for “numbers” people; it’s for you. I’m not a numbers person, but I am an assessment person. And so are you. Here are a few other images from an assessment person’s (i.e., me, in this case) life.Found on phone

I saw this on my commute to work. It infuriated me. Right, because the message here is: asking for help is stupid?? Arg!IMAG0442

Minneapolis’ famed Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden (my favorite site in my home city!) featured this relevant quote in one of its pieces Selections from the Living Series by Jenny Holzer:IMAG0461

(In case you can’t read it: “Affluent college-bound students face the real prospect of downward mobility. Feelings of entitlement clash with the awareness of imminent scarcity. There is resentment at growing up at the end of an era of plenty coupled with reassessment of conventional measures of success.“)

See you Monday!

Assessment + Humor


TGIF assessment friends! I have so much More Than Usual FUN planned for this weekend: going to a Twins game, seeing Avengers, razzing Mark about his (bad) joke campaign (brace yourself, Twitter!), brunch galore, and so much more! But to kick it off, here are two things that made me smile this week:

What I think my students think: 

eye-contactI’m a persistent ‘hello-er’ – if we’ve spoke before (if even only once) then I will say hi to you when we pass on the sidewalk, whether you like it or not. I’m from Iowa, and IOWANS SAY HI! 

 What makes you laugh when you love assessment AND the Olympics:

kaylaI looooooove the Olympics and to this day love the ‘McKayla does not approve’ memes. Have I also mention that I love stuff that is outdated (like this meme)??

 Have a great weekend! See you Monday!

Assessment + Humor (yes, they can coexist)


Friday is FUNday at Oh no! Time for a more-than-usual post…

Assessment, it’s easier than you think (what are the tubes telling us about the users? ;-D): 


What I justify to myself when I’m being a cranky-pants “know-it-all” (any other ESTJ’s in the house????):


What my writing process was like this week (Mark’s inbox can attest to this :-P):the-creative-process

How I felt when so many people tweeted at us, favorited our tweets, and/or retweeted our posts:


YOU GUYS! We cannot thank you enough for your support of Oh no. You have been the highlight of our week! Please continue reading, and please click “Subscribe” so you can get Oh no delivered right to your inbox. What luxury!

See you Monday!

Ben and Jerry’s Free Cone Day

2015-03-14_OhNoLogo22-mark3It’s Friday! Time for a more-than-usual fun post.


Did you know, this Tuesday, April 14th, is Ben and Jerry’s free cone day?

This event usually comes with a line. At the 2014 Free Cone Day in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the line took about 30 minutes and looked like this…


One student shouted from the other side of the street: “Is this worth three dollars?”

Yes. Yes it is.