Welcome to our first 2021 edition of Eye of Assessment! While I'm a little late for wishing you all a Happy New Year, I do hope that everyone is well and that Spring semester is off to a good start. As many of you may know, Student Affairs participated in the Wellbeing Collaborative's Fall 2020 undergraduate survey. I have been working to analyze and share findings from the survey, and had the opportunity to present some of our data at the Student Affairs January Town Hall (see Tidbytes below). In presenting, I emphasized two key aspects of a healthy culture of assessment:
- the importance of looking at data through a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion
- and a shared responsibility for considering data within the contexts of our individual and collective roles to better inform planning and support student success
In following up on the first point, I invited Kaitlyn Bayley of UCS to share some insights and resources from her attendance at a workshop focused on data equity. Kaitlyn wrote:
A few months ago, a member of the Student Affairs Assessment Council shared a resource from We All Count, an organization dedicated to promoting data equity and prevention of bias in data science. After perusing the website, I found an option to apply to attend their free introductory workshop, as part of their dedication to offering equitable access. I filled out the form without much thought, and was pleasantly surprised to get an email a few weeks later inviting me to attend.
The workshop itself covered the Foundations of Data Equity through a Seven Step Framework, outlined below:
- Project Design
- Data Collection & Sourcing
- Communication & Distribution
While the workshop was designed to address anyone who works with data, and included many nonprofit administrators, public health professionals, and other educators, many of the strategies translated well to the work we do in Student Affairs. At each step in the framework, Heather Krause (founder of We All Count and facilitator of the workshop) offered concrete ways to reconsider our decision-making about data that might unintentionally reflect a biased point of view.
In one example, the concept of averages was turned on its head (for me, at least) as we considered the denominator of the average as reflective of a particular point of view. The Assessment Council often discusses the importance of using disaggregated data in order to identify gaps in student needs and services that can be addressed, and the video featured below does a good job of explaining exactly why that’s needed. If you find yourself with a bit more time, the session hosted by Tableau with Heather Krause, along with Shena Ashley and Jon Schwabish (both of the Urban Institute), provides some of the same insightful content in a condensed, conversational version. You can view the session at https://youtu.be/QA8tzX8PpL4.
The workshop was engaging, thought-provoking, and very well-designed. The website is full of useful resources, an active newsletter and Slack community of data professionals engaged in this work, as well as a recommended reading list. If you’re like me, you’ll leave the training with an Amazon cart full of books to read, struggling to narrow down which one to dive into first. And in times when professional development budgets are constrained, the opportunity to attend for free is worth a few minutes to fill out a quick application to do so!
Thanks to Kaitlyn for her willingness to advance the conversation in support of a more robust culture of assessment across Student Affairs. Please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com
if you would like assistance analyzing data, have requests for additional analysis of the Wake Forest Wellbeing data, or can identify campus partners who might benefit from receiving highlights of the Fall 2020 Wellbeing data.