When California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) began implementing their Campus Labs platform, they had a clear timeline in mind: have everything ready for their review with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Despite this ticking clock, administrators at CSUSB didn’t sacrifice collaboration for expedience—instead, building integrated processes and embracing collaborative elements of their assessment solution was a key part of their strategy and ultimately helped the campus be more efficient in drawing clear connections between strategic planning initiatives and accreditation reporting. Their approach also bolstered faculty involvement while shepherding a culture of evidence-based assessment—a model that CSUSB assessment leaders Dr. Clare Weber and Dr. Judy Sylva detail for us here.
Clare Weber, Ph.D.
Deputy Provost and Vice Provost for Academic Programs
California State University, San Bernardino
Judy Sylva, Ph.D.
Faculty Director of Assessment for Academic Affairs
California State University, San Bernardino
What were some of your earliest accomplishments using our assessment solution?
When I got here, I basically said, “There’s no way we are going to do Accreditation without a Campus Labs platform." We wanted a shared platform where we could collaborate. We expanded quickly from there as people saw a need and it fit that need. With the integration between Accreditation and Planning, we were able to get people into Planning sooner, as well. It’s really helpful. It’s cool because we got participation from all our stakeholders related to WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) using tools successfully, not banging their heads against the wall or feeling frustrated by the tools.
We rolled out Planning immediately with a pilot project in the Division of Academic Affairs for the non-academic units. The project initially attempted to provide a space for assessment plans aligned to the CSUSB Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Shortly after the initial launch in the Division of Academic Affairs, the project was replicated with some adaptations in the Division of Student Affairs. The commitment of the working group members in the onboarding process for Planning facilitated the early adoption across the campus for reporting on the institutional strategic plan.
You were able to begin building faculty adoption from early on in your onboarding experience. What are your tips for getting faculty excited about institutional assessment?
Our first roll-out to faculty was in Planning and it’s kind of exciting. Planning can be used for so many different things in such positive ways. We had already used Planning with upper levels of our administration for reporting on our strategic plan and it was a success—we learned a lot about how to use the tools. So, when rolling out this particular tool to faculty I already knew it was going to be a successful and positive experience for the users because we’d gone through enough different pilot phases with the tool. We really refined our ability to use it in cool and efficient ways, so I felt confident the faculty entering their assessment data into Planning were going to have a great experience.
Faculty have been entering the information required by WSCUC in the Inventory of Educational Effectiveness Indicators (IEEI) form in Planning. This template in Planning serves two purposes: (1) to source information required for accreditation and (2) to provide a dynamic repository of semester curriculum assessment plans for future reporting and development of the Program Review. Faculty have been extremely successful in entering their information into these platforms as an initial step toward using more of the tools in Campus Labs as they begin to collect and evaluate evidence to inform their understanding of learner performance and identify opportunities for growth and/or continuous improvement.
From your perspective, how have campus attitudes towards assessment changed since you launched your Campus Labs platform?
Having our assessment plans as living documents in the Campus Labs platform instead of a written-in-stone pdf we are stuck with has really helped us embrace continuous improvement. We had a reporting product from another vendor before, but everybody hated it and I was asked to come up with something better. Before Campus Labs, we didn’t have anything—the need was there and we couldn’t progress. Our early projects were focused on our need to move toward a more evidence-based approach of assessing our strategic plan. We’re using evidence to inform what we’ll stretch and push further within our current plan. We turned from reporting as a way to develop public relations into a way to help us actually take action and improve.
In year two, the reporting at the division level is shifting away from highlights attributed to each reporting unit/department and toward objective-based reporting of evidence to inform continuous improvement. Under the leadership of the Provost, the Dean’s Council identified priorities for the division from the CSUSB Strategic Plan 2015-2020 objectives and identified five additional objectives aligned to strategic plan goals and objectives. All reporting for the division has been to identify evidence that informs baselines for each of these objectives.
Our sincere thanks to Clare Weber, Ph.D. and Judy Sylva, Ph.D. for sharing their experiences with us. If you’d like your campus to be showcased, reach out to your consultant.