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Shevawn,

A very well put observation/opinion about how to assess our programs.  Thanks for your clear, simply stated view.  I will be working through a self assessment of our program over the course of the semester and this helps me get perspective on Quantitative vs. Qualitative measures. While no one yet has demanded strict "learning outcomes" as defense of our program, I fear it is in our future.

I will save your email for some of your verbiage -  thanks.

Laura



-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Shevawn Eaton
Sent: Monday, January 24, 2011 11:45 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Pushed my button- was customer service in higher ed webinar

I just completed a five year assessment report for our programs, which include tutoring, SI and a few others.  Much like others out there, I was pressed to write to the dread learning outcomes model of assessing our program.  I have huge issues about this, because we provide a service to our students.  And whether we like it or not, our students are consumers (or customers, though I don't like that term either) of the services we provide.     

I can't possibly pretend to put a number on how much students have learned from our tutoring.  What we provide them is tangled with what they learn in class, from their books, from their friends, and on and on.  They are constantly improving skill development with or without us. 

What I can tell the faculty who have set up this assessment model is how satisfied our students are with our services and their contributions to student gains.  Our number of students has grown by a few percentage points every year for 10 years.   Not only do we serve more students, we now provide more hours of tutoring to each one.  To me, that is a proxy for the quality of our product (and I'm not crazy about that term either).  Students evaluate us with their feet, as one of my grad school evaluation professors said.  They don't like what we do, they walk away from it.  A decline in our usage numbers is a warning sign, no?

I can also tell the faculty that 99% of the evaluations that students complete about their tutoring visit are extremely positive.  From that, I like to think we can assume that we are providing a good quality service.  Otherwise we'd hear about it.  Because students think of themselves as consumers or customers, and so do their parents, like it or not. 

My report is written from the context of our students being consumers of our product.  As much as I believe that we enhance student learning, it is equally as critical that we know that our students are satisfied with their experience with us.  And that, I guess, is good old customer service.  

So now I'm sweating meeting with the university's assessment panel.  I feel that I'm going to have to take a lot of heat for my "excellent customer service" perspective and how it measures what our students gain as the result of it.  

Anyway, I'm putting that out there because sometimes we NEED to be thinking of our programs as a service that is consumed by students.  

Just my two cents on a cold dreary Monday.



Shevawn Eaton, Ph.D.
Director, ACCESS/ESP
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
PH: (815) 753-0581
www.tutoring.niu.edu
[log in to unmask]

FAX: (815) 753-4115

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