February is known for Valentine’s Day and celebrating relationships. I hope that you will celebrate your relationship with assessment. Some of you are thinking, “I certainly don’t have a loving relationship with assessment. I’m not sending chocolate or even a greeting card.” Thinking beyond the nuts and bolts of assessment toward the end result of assessment, you might actually have a positive relationship.
Think about the purpose of assessment. I emphasize that assessment is about improvement and doing the best for the students (or staff, clients, users, etc.) we work with. We are doing assessment to provide the best possible experiences for the people we care about. We build the best facilities so students can study, live, exercise, build relationships, and more. We provide programs, services, and activities where students can learn, grow, and connect with others. We coordinate leadership and employment opportunities so students can learn and apply skills and get feedback from peers, supervisors, and advisors.
What do those things have in common? It’s our desire to give students the best experience possible, to encourage their learning, satisfaction, and connection. If we didn’t do assessment, how would be know that we were not living up to that standard? We wouldn’t. We might keep doing the same thing, not knowing that it was not beneficial to the people we care about. It’s all about open communication.
Assessment is like having that “relationship check in” talk. You might be nervous and not know where to start. You might be afraid of what people are going to tell you (you want to be the perfect partner, don’t you?), you think you might not be able to meet their expectations….That’s totally reasonable. But, wouldn’t you rather know how to improve rather than continuing to do something annoying or unproductive?
Even when you “break up” (students graduate, staff move to other positions, etc.), you want people to say positive things about you. You want them to recommend you to others. You want students to be better prepared for their next relationship: employment, grad school, next leadership position, etc. Others will be able to see the positive influence you had when they start a relationship with the student. You want to know how you can be better in the next relationship.
Feeling a little more positive about assessment? I hope so. If not, Student Life Studies can be your assessment relationship mediator. We can help you ask useful questions and interpret what others say, so you can be the best you can be. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 862-5624. We are always here to help.