NIU assesses students

By Stephanie Bradley

About 600 students are being assessed April 8 through April 15 for educational development at NIU.

The study consists of three parts and encompasses academic, social and extracurricular development of NIU students, Jon Dalton, vice president for student affairs, said. The assessment is a national standardized test, he said, and NIU is using the standardized model in order to compare NIU students with other students in the country.

Dalton said NIU randomly selected about 300 freshmen and 300 seniors to take part in the assessment. He said he is hoping for at least 150 respondents from each category.

Dalton said the study will encompass the education students receive at NIU, both academic and social. He said the values students learn at NIU is a topic covered in the study.

“We want to emphasize that learning takes place in a lot of situations,” not just in the classroom, Dalton said. Student involvement in extracurricular activities also will be studied. “More involved students do better in school,” he said.

Dalton said freshmen and seniors were chosen in order to compare them. He said the comparison will give an idea of students’ changes in attitudes over time. It will show how effective NIU has been in developing students’ attitudes.

Mark Ludden, student affairs research assistant, said freshmen are being surveyed because they will give a “first impression” image of the university. He said seniors are being tested because they have “three and one-half years of experience” at NIU.

Anna Beth Payne, Counselling and Student Development psychologist, said most of the work for the study was completed last semester. NIU needed to be assessed, she said, and the university wanted a study which could be completed this semester.

She said the questions on the survey will inform NIU what programs need to be changed or developed. She said any changes which might occur at NIU will depend on the results of the survey.

Payne said students who have been chosen to participate in the survey received a postcard requesting the day and date they could participate in the survey. She said students who have not yet replied can still participate, and she encourages them to do so.

Payne said students will be asked to attend a meeting after the survey results have been collected so that feedback can be collected. She said it will give students an opportunity to learn about NIU and other NIU students.

Dalton said the survey “is part of an institutional effort to assess NIU.” He said there also was a separate student needs poll conducted through the Public Opinion Lab. Dalton said a similar study was conducted five years ago, and the two will be compared for changes in attitudes.

Dalton said NIU had a mandate from the State of Illinois to conduct assessment. He said the NIU Faculty Assessment Committee has been working on a number of ways to conduct assessment. Assessment Committee Chairman Robert Wheeler has been working with Dalton and Payne to assess NIU.