On measuring and using evidence to improve HSU

I’m Matt Johnson, current chair of the Wildlife department.  Steve Smith and I are taking the lead on the focus area called, “culture of evidence.”

A culture of evidence basically means that, as a campus, we adopt a continuous process of improvement – we can think of this as a cycle with 4 stages: plan, implement, assess, and use the evidence to modify what we do to become better.  “Assess,” of course, is a loaded word – and while it’s true that assessing student learning outcomes is one example of this process, the cycle of improvement should be much broader than that; it should extend across all sectors of the university – administration, budget, academics, staff operations, etc. – to foster an expansive culture of evidence. 

I’m probably like a lot of you in that when I first hear of requests for us to monitor what we do, I question whether they’ll make a positive difference.  But from my experiences with assessment in my own department, I have to say that I’ve seen this process work – I’ve seen measurements that have sparked my colleagues and I to change our curriculum and improve learning…not necessarily huge changes, but important ones.  With that said, we’ve also spent time measuring stuff that, frankly, seems a waste of time.  So the cabinet’s challenge is to work with already existing practices and to develop new efforts to yield simple informative metrics, ones that are well coordinated across campus and easily accessible– so we can use to them to raise the quality of the university. 

The WASC and Keeling reports helped make it clear that our aim must be to implement evidence-based decisions rooted in a cyclical process of improvement.  These practices will not only help HSU realize its potential in the short-term, they’ll enable us to be a university that is nimble, responsive, and continually improving.

I’m excited to work with Steve to listen to stakeholders across campus to help identify what and how we need to measure, then to work with the rest of the cabinet and campus leaders to make this goal happen.

Posted by Matt Johnson at 01:27 PM
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