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Opening Plenary (8:30 AM - 9:45 AM)

How to Hit a Moving Target: Assessing Engaged Learning in Changing Environments

Ashley Finley, Senior Director of Assessment and Research – Assoc. of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), National Evaluator – Bringing Theory to Practice

Campuses are increasingly realizing the need to expand traditional notions of teaching and learning in order to meet the demands of higher education in the 21st century.   It is a time to think inclusively about student success, challenge paradigms that govern institutional structures, re-examine the skills necessary for today’s workforce, and consider the utility of our technology rich environments.  It is a time, in short, to develop assessments that enable better, more meaningful narratives about 21st century learning in higher education.  This interactive plenary will guide participants through campus-based examples of how educators are using  e-portfolio and Web 2.0 tools (e.g., social media and constructivist digital tools) to shape and inspire student learning across complex and often non-traditional settings.  Additionally, the role of intentional reflective practices and the application of student-centered rubrics will be examined as essential components for capturing students’ experiences and measuring learning gains.

About the Presenter

Ashley Finley is the Senior Director of Assessment and Research at AAC&U. She is also the national evaluator for the Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) project. Finley’s national work, at both the campus and national levels, has focused on developing best practices regarding program implementation, instrumentation, and mixed methods assessment. Specifically, her work combines assisting campuses with the implementation of assessment protocols and the promotion of best practices within programmatic efforts for successful results. Additionally, her view to assessment and research is attentive to the intersection of quantitative and qualitative methodologies and the use of data to tell a cohesive story regarding institutional learning outcomes. As part of this approach, special emphasis is given to the use of rubrics and e-portfolios as integral components of a holistic approach to campus assessment, from general education to the majors. Through her work with the national BTtoP project, Finley works with faculty, administrators and student affairs professionals across an array of campuses to implement and assess initiatives aimed at understanding and fostering intersections between students’ engaged learning, civic development, and students’ psychosocial well-being.

Before joining AAC&U, she was an assistant professor of sociology at Dickinson College. Her teaching and research have focused broadly on issues of social inequality, specifically with regard to gender in social institutions, and the use of quantitative methods. She has also taught courses that have incorporated high-impact learning practices, such as learning communities and service-learning. Finley received a B.A. degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an M.A. and Ph.D, both in sociology, from the University of Iowa.

[Bio taken, with permission, from http://www.aacu.org]

 

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