Assessment Summer Retreat

2015-03-14_OhNoLogo22-abby3Hello assessment friends! The summer has been fun, but flying by. It kicked off with Mark’s Bachelor Party (in Niagara Falls), and then wedding – there were beautiful vows, dancing and pie; I was a groomsmaid; a rooster loudly crowed throughout the ceremony; and it was a happy day.

mark and kate

Congratulations Mark & Kate!

Then, I went to Disneyland and it was truly magical.

disney

And now it’s time to get back to work! 

What I hear from people all the time is that they’ve done so much good and diligent work throughout the year collecting program attendance numbers, and student feedback and surveys, but with no time (and maybe some analysis paralysis) to dig into what does all that delicious data say about what students learned.

If you’re like me, you work amongst thoughtful, passionate, student-centered professionals. And, summer in the office is THE time to reflect, work on projects, and retreat. So, bring all of these elements together – your student usage/engagement data/feedback, great colleagues, and summer reflection time – to tackle the question of how did all of our initiatives and efforts with students impact their learning?

Next week my colleagues and I will be retreating (well…not actually away from campus, but you get what I mean) to do just this: review our office goals and student engagement data, figure out what it all means, and strategize and vision for the coming year. Specifically, we’ll be focusing on:

  • What patterns you see in our student usage data?
  • What do the data and patterns say to you about how students engaged with our initiatives and services?
  • How did all of our initiatives and efforts with students impact their learning?
  • How does our student engagement data relate to our annual office goals?

Don’t be afraid to not have all the answers, and don’t be afraid to struggle as a group through these types of questions. This will help you make data- and assessment-driven decisions that ultimately help students (and, hopefully, it will be a little fun too!).

Happy retreating!

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!

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!