Classroom at Roxbury Community College

Advancing a Massachusetts Culture of Assessment (AMCOA)   |   9th Annual Assessment Conference

October 30, 2020: Addressing Equity Through Assessment—Mutually Reinforcing Objectives


9 a.m. Welcome
Opening Remarks

Robert J. Awkward, Ph.D., Assistant Commissioner for Academic Effectiveness
Patricia A. Marshall, Ph.D., Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs & Student Success, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
9:15 a.m. Plenary Session
Equity and Assessment: Moving Towards Culturally Responsive Assessment

As colleges educate a more diverse and global student population, there is increased need to ensure every student succeeds regardless of their differences; especially our minoritized student population. This keynote will explore the relationship between equity and assessment, addressing the question: how consequential can assessment be to learning when assessment approaches may not be inclusive of diverse learners. NILOA believes that in order to meet the goal of improving student learning and authentically document what students know and can do, a culturally responsive approach to assessment is needed. In describing what assessment entails, a rationale will be provided as to why change is necessary, a way to conceptualize the place of students and culture in assessment will be proposed, and three ways to help make assessment culturally responsive will be introduced.

Natasha A. Jankowski, Ph.D., Executive Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) and a Research Associate Professor with the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

10:45a.m. Transition Time
11:00a.m. Breakout Sessions – Applying the Equity Agenda to Assessment in Practice
Session A: Equity and Assessment: Practical Approaches

Attendees of this follow-on workshop will be invited into dialogue regarding their campus efforts to implement equity principles into their assessment practices as well as exploring together opportunities to introduce an equity lens to the field of meaningful and manageable assessment of student learning.

Natasha A. Jankowski, Ph.D., Executive Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) and a Research Associate Professor with the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Session B: Equity in Practice: Faculty-Staff Collaborations for Teaching, Learning, and Assessing

Members of Quinsigamond Outcomes Research for Excellence (QORE) will provide an overview of Quinsigamond Community College’s (QCC’s) Equity and Excellence Experience. The year-long project supports faculty-staff teams as they develop and deliver learning experiences that meaningfully honor their students’ diversities. A summer intensive on pedagogy and equity is followed by faculty and staff partnering to co-create learning activities that build on students’ cultural strengths. Students participate in these learning activities in their students’ work for assessment purposes. They also reflect on their own experiences and contribute to a public archive about the Equity and Excellence Experience. Workshop attendees will have an opportunity to participate in one of these learning activities, as well as learn about a pilot project to assess this work. 

Amy Beaudry, Professor of English and the Academic Technology Facilitator; Gaelan Benway, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and Academic Assessment Facilitator; Maureen Giacobbe, Coordinator for Instructional Technology & Assessment; and Tiger Swan, Coordinator for Library Reference & Instruction all from Quinsigamond Community College
Session C: Guided Pathways Framework to Advance Student Success at Middlesex Community College

Middlesex Community College received an AAC&U grant, Strengthening Guided Pathways, designed to assess the availability, accessibility and efficacy of academic programs including high impact practices related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Three MCC programs are participating in this grant initiative including Criminal Justice, Cyber Security and Early Childhood Education. This session will provide an overview of the grant, and an in-depth discussion of the grant findings in the Criminal Justice program.

The CJ Department at Middlesex Community College has worked extensively on creating equity minded assessment strategies for student success. During this session, attendees will learn about the process to desegregate data, and analyze student success rates based on student demographics. Faculty members involved in the project will present findings on student success in the program based on race, gender, income and more. As a result, faculty developed assessment strategies using high-impact practices such as a two-day course where students can have real life experiences in the field. During this session, faculty will present on the results from these high-impact practices, which showed a promising positive impact on student retention and completion among students of color.

Heloisa DaCunha, Professor of Criminal Justice; Judith Hogan, Dean of Business, Legal Studies, & Public Service; Ronald Brevard, Professor of Criminal Justice all from Middlesex Community College
Session D: Looking at Student Success Data through an Equity Lens

Framingham State University’s STEM Racial Equity Project, funded by an Inclusive Excellence Award from Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has challenged us to change the way we do business in order to achieve a truly inclusive academic experience for our students. Through extensive disaggregated data analysis, FSU’s STEM Racial Equity Project Data Team has examined student performance in gateway and upper-level courses to understand performance disparities. Layered on top of institutional data is an in-depth look at high schools of origin for incoming students, including the racial composition of those in comparison to FSU. Through this deeper understanding of the challenges for our minoritized students, we may work collectively to improve our capacity for inclusive excellence. Building upon the lessons learned through our data collection, analysis and reporting, this presentation will review the systematic process utilized at FSU for this project, ending with hypothetical student success data that poses significant concerns about educational equity across the Commonwealth, with a special emphasis on racial equity. We will discuss the challenges and successes associated with presenting this type of data to faculty and staff, and time will be reserved for participants to think about how they can analyze their own student success data through an equity lens.

LaDonna Bridges, Ph.D, Associate Dean of Academic Success & Director of CASA; Catherine Dignam, Ph.D., Professor & Chair, Chemistry & Food Sciences; Robert Donohue, Ph.D., Professor & Program Advisor, Counseling Psychology; and Matt Moynihan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mathematics all from Framingham State University.
12:15p.m. Transition Time
12:30p.m. Lunch
1:15 p.m. Transition Time
1:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions – Assessment Tools and Approaches
Session A: Leveraging Technology to Develop Assessment Tools in the Education Ecosystem

This presentation focuses on the American Women College’s (TAWC) unique Social Online Universal Learning (SOUL) model, a virtual ecosystem of services supported by technology that collectively fosters student success. Technology platforms embedded in this ecosystem facilitate continuous assessment of student progress and learning via tools such as dashboards that makes student success data from various systems accessible and easy to use. The presentation will describe how TAWC uses data from the dashboard continuously throughout the year – along with other assessment-oriented measures of student learning, both quantitative and qualitative – in making course redesigns. Rather than waiting for the university’s annual assessment timeframe to make meaning of assessment data, TAWC academics are able to mine data related to student success all throughout the year. This has resulted in achieving more equitable learning outcomes for its adult women learners.

Maura Devlin, Ph.D., Associate Vice President & Dean, Undergraduate Studies, Bay Path University
Session B: Transparency in Learning & Teaching: An Equity Imperative

Transparent teaching/learning practices can advance equitable teaching and learning practices that reduce systemic inequities in higher education by making learning processes explicit while fostering students' metacognition, confidence, and their sense of belonging in college. A 2016 AAC&U study identifies transparent assignment design as a replicable teaching intervention that significantly enhances students' success, with greater gains for historically underserved students [Winkelmes et al, Peer Review, Spring 2016]. The book Transparent Design in Higher Education Teaching and Learning (2019) describes examples and contexts where the transparent framework is in use across the US. In this session, we will review the research findings, examine sample assignments, and consider contexts for implementation. Participants will leave with a draft assignment or activity for one of their courses, and a concise set of strategies for designing transparent assignments that promote students’ learning equitably.

Mary-Ann Winkelmes, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Brandeis University and Senior Fellow, Association of American Colleges & Universities

Session C: Early Results and Observations of Assessment Processes from Student Affairs Departments

As a regional comprehensive institution, Fitchburg State is focused on serving the citizens of North Central Massachusetts well, providing access to education, and contributing to the community. The Division of Student Affairs is a key player in implementing the new strategic plan focusing on education justice and ensuring that we are a campus ready to serve, challenge, and support all of our students (and employees). Beginning in Fall 2019, each department in the Division of Student Affairs at Fitchburg State University embarked on putting their missions, priorities, outcomes, and annual goals into action. This session will highlight a few of the departments, featuring information on the process, as well as initial results, observations, and lessons learned.
Laura Bayless, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Affairs; Matthew Burke, Senior Director of Athletics & Recreation; Robert Hynes, Ph.D., Director of Counseling Services/Assistant Dean for Student Services;  and Hank Parkinson, Ed.D., Associate Dean for Student Development all from Fitchburg State University
Session D: Equal Signs: A Justice Agenda for Quantitative Literacy

Quantitative literacy (QL) is the skill set and habit of mind necessary to use and understand quantitative information to solve problems and critically reason within authentic contexts. Yet while our world is awash in data like never before, unequal access to, and weaponization of data exacerbates historical inequities -- in ways that show up in our classrooms. In this session, participants will uncover the role quantitative literacy plays in educating for liberation across the curriculum, and develop ideas for assignments and assessments that equip students with tools to recognize and combat the injustices of weaponized uses of data. 

Matthew Salomone, Ph.D., Chair and Associate Professor, Mathematics, Bridgewater State University
2:45 p.m. Transition Time
2:55 p.m. Closing
Closing Remarks

Robert J.  Awkward, Ph.D., Assistant Commissioner for Academic Effectiveness, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
3:00 p.m. Program Ends


Speaker Profiles

  • Laura Bayless, Ph.D.

    Laura serves as the Vice President for Student Affairs at Fitchburg State University, providing strategic leadership to 12 co-curricular departments. She has served in senior leadership roles at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Caldwell University, and St. Mary's College of Maryland. She earned her PhD at Virginia Tech, MS at Miami University of Ohio, and BA at Denison University. In addition to her administrative duties, Laura teaches in masters and doctoral programs in higher education leadership and policy development.
  • Amy Beaudry

    Amy is a Professor of English and the Academic Technology Facilitator at Quinsigamond Community College, where she has worked since 2004. In addition to teaching composition, literature and philosophy classes, Beaudry is involved in a variety of online teaching and learning, professional development, assessment, retention, and Open Educational Resources initiatives at the campus and state levels.
  • Gaelan Lee Benway, Ph.D.

    Gaelan is a Professor of Sociology and Academic Assessment Facilitator at Quinsigamond Community College. She joined the faculty in 2005 after earning a Ph.D. in Sociology from Brown University, where her dissertation focused on work-family balance negotiations among Dominican immigrants to Providence, RI. Gaelan’s professional interests include racial/ethnic, gender, sexual, socioeconomic, age, and health-related diversity and inclusion.
  • Ron Brevard

    Ron is a tenured Professor of Criminal Justice at Middlesex Community College. He has a B.S. from New York Institute of Technology and a M.S. from Anna Maria College.
  • LaDonna Bridges, Ph.D.

    LaDonna is Associate Dean of Academic Success and Director of the Center for Academic Success and Achievement. Dr. Bridges began her career in health care marketing and advertising and re-careered into higher education. She sees herself as a scholar-practitioner and is passionate about working with students with disabilities and first-gen students. Her dissertation used innovative qualitative methodology to explore the influence of working-class culture on first-generation and low-income students. Her own experiences and scholarship allows her to bring leadership, passion and an evidence-based approach to address student needs at the individual and system levels, affinity groups at FSU like Generation One and the larger higher education community. LaDonna received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
  • Matthew Burke

    Matt is currently the Senior Director of Athletics and Recreation at Fitchburg State University. Burke oversees 17 varsity sports, 350 student-athletes, and a staff of over 50 employees. He previously served as the Executive Director of Athletics at Mount Ida College and was part of the Mustang community for twenty years. While at Mount Ida, Burke was responsible for three athletic facility expansion projects, increased the number of full-time coaches and launched the addition of field hockey in 2014. Burke earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and received his Master's in Business Administration from Nichols College.
  • Heloisa DaCunha

    Heloise is a tenured Professor of Criminal Justice at Middlesex Community College. She has both a B.S. and a M.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
  • Maura Devlin, Ph.D.

    Maura has 15+ years’ experience working with non-traditional students. Her roles at Bay Path University have been in teaching, advising, international exchange, student and career guidance, and academic program administration. Currently, Maura serves as an Associate Vice President & Dean, Undergraduate Studies. Previously, she served as the Deputy Chief Learning Officer of The American Women’s College division, overseeing academic curriculum and student support services. Maura completed her Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership at University of Massachusetts Amherst with a dissertation focused on intergenerational mobility and maternal education. She has an abiding interest in education’s role in socioeconomic mobility among the underserved and she is an advocate for data-driven strategies to ensure that higher education achieves this mission.
  • Catherine Dignam, Ph.D.

    Catherine is the chair of the Department of Chemistry and Food Science at Framingham State, and serves as the Program Director for FSU’s STEM Racial Equity Project, funded by an Inclusive Excellence Award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Her current interests include developing programs that support the success of STEM students by encouraging an inclusive learning environment, the strategic use of student success data to improve teaching and learning, and transforming institutional culture to embrace anti-racism through intensive faculty development.
  • Robert Donohue, Ph.D.

    Robert received his B.A. in psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and his Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Florida. While at the University of Florida, Dr. Donohue was a National Institute of Child Health and Development pre-doctoral trainee and 1989 recipient of the Bernard Tursky Award for Excellence in Pre-doctoral Research. After earning his Ph.D., Dr. Donohue was appointed as a John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Post-doctoral Fellow and National Institute of Health post-doctoral trainee. Before arriving at Framingham State University, Dr. Donohue taught at the University of Denver, Franklin and Marshall College and the University of Hawaii. Dr. Donohue’s research training is in infant cognitive development & psychophysiology.
  • Maureen Giacobbe

    Maureen is the Coordinator for Instructional Technology & Assessment at Quinsigamond Community College where she has worked since 2017 and occasionally serves as an adjunct faculty member for computer applications.  She has twelve years of instructional design experience in the public and private sector and 30+ in the areas of education and technology. She assists faculty and staff with the application of academic technologies in the college's learning management system (LMS) and face-to-face classroom as well as facilitating the online faculty training workshops.
  • Judith Hogan

    Judy is the Dean of Business, Legal Studies and Public Service at Middlesex Community College where 3,000 students study and prepare for careers in Business Administration, Legal Studies, Fire Science, and Criminal Justice. A respected administrator, she has overseen several grant programs including: AACU Strengthening Pathways, Everyday Entrepreneur Venture Fund, HED International Entrepreneurship, DOL RFID and Energy Utility Technology training programs, NSF Grant for Integrating Nanotechnology and Technician Education, and a NSF BATEC grant. She also led a Massachusetts Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund grant for workers in travel/tourism with Bryansk State Technical College in Bryansk, Russia where she organized student lead curriculum exchanges and lectured on engineering and technical education in the United States. Prior to coming to the college Judy was an entrepreneur. She also worked for Illinois Tool Works as a Product Manager for several years. Judy received a B.S. In Business Administration from Boston College and a M.B.A. from Rivier University.
  • Robert Hynes, Ph.D.

    Robert serves as the Assistant Dean/Director of Counseling Services at Fitchburg State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University in 1996 and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Massachusetts. In addition to clinical and administrative responsibilities, Dr. Hynes teaches a variety of coursework in the graduate Mental Health Counseling Program at Fitchburg State.   
  • Natasha Jankowski, Ph.D.

    Natasha serves as Executive Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) and Research Associate Professor in the department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is co-author with her NILOA colleagues of the book Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education, as well as co-author of Degrees that Matter: Moving Higher Education to a Learning Systems Paradigm. She works in partnership with her NILOA colleagues and others in the field on assignment design, transparency, evidence-based storytelling, equity, mapping and alignment of learning, and all things assessment.  NILOA is the proud recipient of the ACPA Contribution to Higher Education award. Natasha is the recipient of the Academic Professional Excellence Award from the University of Illinois, Kent State University’s Alumni Award, and the Young Alumni Award from the College of Education at UIUC. She holds a PhD in Higher Education from the University of Illinois, an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from Kent State University, and a B.A. in philosophy from Illinois State University.
  • Matthew Moynihan, Ph.D.

    Matthew is in his fourth year as an assistant professor in the mathematics department at Framingham State University. He has eight years of teaching experience and his research interests involve combinatorics and algebra. Matthew is currently broadening his teaching to explore the connections between mathematics and social justice. He earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Brandeis University and a B.A. in mathematics from St. Olaf College.
  • Hank Parkinson, Ph.D.

    Hank has 23 years of progressive experience in higher education administration and is an expert leadership trainer. He has worked at multiple institutions and is experienced in Student Activities, Operations, Orientation, First Year Experience, Leadership Development, Volunteerism, Greek Life, Residence Life, Multi-Cultural Affairs, Recreation Services, and is currently the Associate Dean for Student Development at Fitchburg State University. His research interests include First Year Experience, Leadership Development, and Student Development.
  • Matthew Salomone, Ph.D.

    Matt joined the faculty at Bridgewater State University (BSU) in 2009, where he is Chair of the Mathematics Department, and Faculty Director of Math Services learning assistance in the Academic Achievement Center. At BSU, he was the founding coordinator of the Quantity Across the Curriculum (“QuAC”) program; a faculty development initiative dedicated to supporting wider faculty engagement and increased student success with quantitative content in all disciplines. QuAC also hosts SEQuEL, an annual conference in January, to support faculty and staff from around the region in their efforts to strengthen quantitative literacy efforts on their campuses. Dr. Salomone holds a B.A. in Integrated Science and a Ph.D. in Mathematics, both from Northwestern University where he studied celestial mechanics and applied geometry.
  • Tiger Swan

    Tiger is the Coordinator for Library Reference and Instruction at Quinsigamond Community College (QCC), where he has worked since 2014. As a librarian, Swan is integrated into many facets of QCC’s campus community, particularly those tied to student learning, information literacy, critical thinking, and assessment. Prior to his arrival at QCC, he worked at Florida A&M University for nearly five years and he was a member of the coordinating team for their Quality Enhancement Plan.
  • Mary-Ann Winkelmes, Ph.D.

    Mary-Ann is the executive director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Brandeis University, and the founding director of the Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Project (TILT Higher Ed), which aims to advance equitable teaching and learning practices that reduce systemic inequities in higher education. Her work to improve higher education learning and teaching, especially for historically underserved students, has been recognized nationally by the Chronicle of Higher Education and by the POD Network's Robert J. Menges Award for Outstanding Research in Educational Development. She has served as a Senior Fellow of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and in faculty development leadership roles at Harvard University, the University of Chicago, University of Illinois, and University of Nevada, Las Vegas.