Assessment of student learning is one of the most cited areas of concern or need for improvement for higher education institutions across accreditors. Within that space, assessment for student affairs and co-curricular areas has been one of the top areas lacking among institutional practices.
Most concerning in the face of that reality is the lack of staffing, resources and even familiarity with student affairs assessment. For these reasons and more, the Student Affairs Assessment Leaders (SAAL) continue to invest and promote their free massive open online course (MOOC), Applying & Leading Assessment in Student Affairs.
The course has run once a year for the past seven years and consistently sees over 90% course quality ratings, and indication materials and activities have had a positive impact on them. It averages more than 1,500 participants per year and consistently brings in more folks due to the relevance of the material paired with the lack of resources and guidance available at institutions for faculty, staff and administrators on the subject. A free, self-paced, introductory course with an abundance of resources and practical activities to ground the material has proven successfully popular and useful to thousands of people.
Each year, Joe Levy – who serves as the Open Course Manager for the SAAL Board of Directors – conducts analysis from course participant results and feedback on the course experience. This serves as a great recap of the course experience for the year, as well as implications for changes to influence the next iteration of the course.
This blog provides a summary of the data analysis and results from the 2023 open course that ran from February to April of 2023. The reporting resulted in 92 total pages, opening with a 5-page executive summary and followed by reports for the Welcome Survey/User Profile, Quiz Results, Assignment Rubric Results, and User Experience/End of Course Survey Results. The executive summary has hyperlinks to these respective reports and data disaggregation elements summarized. Since that’s a lot of reading, the post below shares the highlights.
This year, we saw 1,542 participants enroll in the course, with 222 of them successfully completing it. This 14.3961% completion rate is just shy of the 15% completion rate from 2021 and 2022 where rules of rounding would put this year at 14%. Despite the slightly lower completion rate, we saw almost 500 more students sign up this year compared to last. We’re excited about the continued course interest!
Welcome Survey/User Profile
Participants are largely hearing about the course from friends of colleagues, from SAAL, or through social media. They take the course because they enjoy learning about topics that interest them and hope to gain skills for a promotion or new career. While they have online experience from school or through other MOOC providers, course takers identify almost split as passive and active participants for this course (especially when looking at completers vs all respondents) and they anticipate spending one or two hours per week on the course.
The majority of course takers have 40% or less of their jobs dedicated to assessment and identify as intermediate or beginners with respect to their assessment competency. They hold all sorts of roles at institutions, primarily staff and managers or directors in a variety of functional areas —with the highest concentrations in Institutional Effectiveness, Career and Academic Advising, and Student Engagement and Involvement. They represent all types of institutions, but the largest concentration are in public 4-year universities with over 10,000 students, private 4-year universities with under 10,000 students, and community colleges with under 10,000 students. While we have course takers from all over the world, the vast majority are from North America, speak English as their native language, and live in suburban or urban areas.
Course participants typically have master's degrees; the next largest group has terminal degrees. The course welcomed all ages of participants, but the most populated age groups were 25-34, 35-44, and 45-54. Course participants are mostly female and primarily identify as women. While many races and ethnicities were represented, the majority of participants identified as White.
Because course completers had very similar demographic distribution/profile as the initial sample of survey respondents, the above narrative profile holds true for them, too. These results also largely mirror last year’s results.