Apr 21, 2009

Pass or fail: students, faculty participate in campus-wide assessment day

by Mandi Forth

Liberty University decided to treat students to a day of no convocation and no classes. However, the break came with a catch. Students were required to participate in a campus-wide assessment test, which Liberty uses to evaluate the academic and co-curricular programs. Over 6,800 resident students showed up, as well as some LU Online students, to participate in the assessments, according to Sharon Wheeler, the associate director of University Assessment.

The purpose of the evaluation was to determine what areas need to be adjusted for the students to receive a challenging but balanced education, according to Executive Director of the University Writing Program Dr. Emily Heady.

"It may turn out that students who took a particular teacher for MATH 115 all mastered the material — and if that's the case, we'll be asking that teacher what she is doing so that we can all try to do the same," Heady said.

“The university leadership and faculty take the results of assessment seriously, using the information gathered to improve academic programs and the overall Liberty University experience,” Provost Dr. Boyd C. Rist said.

Many departments required students to participate in an additional assessment that helped them evaluate specific majors. The nursing program tested all the different class levels, freshmen through seniors.

Simulation Lab Coordinator Kathryn M. Miller, RN, BSN, said that the assessment tests are very beneficial for the departments.

“Nursing is a major in which we as faculty and staff are constantly assessing and developing our students’ critical thinking skills. Therefore, we anticipate great improvement on critical thinking post test scores as these same students test as seniors,” Miller said.

The English department also held its own assessment.

“I actually enjoyed taking the English assessment because I liked seeing how much I have learned,” senior Jill Johnson said.

The School of Business assessed approximately 200 students with its own test that was designed to help them evaluate the students on particular levels to see where they were in their sophomore, junior and senior levels, according to the Dean of Business Dr. Bruce Bell.

“Once we run all the results, I’ll be able to see where seniors are struggling, and that should help us in covering those subjects in greater detail,” Bell said.

Many students, like junior James Jarman, still doubt that the university will learn that much from the assessments. Jarman participated in the oral communication portion of the assessment and felt that it was not that advantageous to him or the university.

“I think it would have benefitted more if just the seniors were assessed. It doesn’t really display what underclassmen really learned because they haven’t had the chance to learn much yet,” Jarman said.

However, many students, like junior Liz Cook, felt that the same assessment was very valuable.

“I hope the assessment day proves to be the faculty’s rallying cry — demanding intellectual solidarity from a Christian community is a worthy goal,” Cook said.

Liberty offered incentives for students to come out and take the tests. Drawstring bags and water bottle holders emblazoned with the Liberty logo were given out to all students who took the tests, and each student was entered into a drawing for other prizes.

The school gave away two GPS devices, four digital cameras, eight iPods, four Bluetooth headsets, eight flash drives and 55 Barnes & Noble gift cards. They also gave away four grand prizes: Dell Intel Pentium Laptops to Rachel Maffet and Stella Wiredu, and Nintendo Wiis to Isaiah Luce and Mary Steele.

Contact Mandi Forth at


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