Spring Schedule of Teaching & Learning Events - Page 8

CTE : Teaching and Learning News

Volume 16, Number 3                                            February & March 2007


Philip Merrill College of Journalism
Launches Assessment Web Site

Penny Bender Fuchs
Director of Career Placement and Professional Development
Philip Merrill College of Journalism

When talk of student assessment and learning outcomes came up for serious discussion at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in fall 2005, the reaction was a familiar refrain heard elsewhere on campus – professors expressed concerns about unnecessary mandates impinging on classroom freedom and professorial creativity. Some asked how to quantify something so subjective as a news lead or a feature story. Others wanted to know why students’ grades or our national reputation as a top-tier journalism school wasn’t enough to show how well we taught our students.

Disgruntled reactions aside, assessment was coming. Not only mandated by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, but the College’s own accrediting board, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, began enforcing assessment standards in 2004. The College, up for re-accreditation in 2009, would need an assessment program in place long before then. Sensitive to faculty concerns, Dean Thomas Kunkel promised they would be intimately involved in the process but not be held hostage by it; that assessment would serve as a tool for curriculum improvements, not dictate course structure.

This fall, the College launched www.jportfolio.umd.edu, its new online assessment Web site designed to measure student learning in fundamental areas of the curriculum. Conceived by administrators and a faculty committee and designed by the college’s technology director, the Web site database successfully collected assessments of more than 500 students by 33 faculty and adjunct instructors.

“Journalism Launches Assessment Website...” continued on page 9

Teaching & Learning News is published by the Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Maryland, College Park