Reported by Gene KerstiensWinter Institute, January 5, 1998, Summary of
Sessions via Rick Sheets' email account :

                          19th Annual Institute
                     SMOG-FREE SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA.

This year's participants and mentors met at 5pm on Sunday, January 4,
for orientation and preview of the week's activities

                                            Monday, January 5
Keynote Address.  Gwyn Enright  "Student Assessment & Program
PM General Session:  Georgine Materniak, "CAS Standards for Learning

Keynote Address.  Gwyn Enright  "Student Assessment & Program

       The presentation began by having participants take four tests
developed by William Saffire and calculated to occasion frustration.
This exercise was supposed to inspire a mental and emotional set not
unlike that experienced by students being assessed during a testing

     Peter Elbow, K P Cross, and B. Bloom were were discussed as
principals in the assessment field who believe that in academe we are
obsessed with grading, we fail to use all the data we collect, and that
we tend not to recognize that assessment should reveal competencies in
order to improve instruction.  In sum,
evaluation must be linked to instruction.

     Research that supports certain "axioms" of assessment and
evaluation were discussed:

          l.  Students' self-assessment is usually accurate.
          2.  The degree to which students are test-wise correlates with
          3.  Student difficulty in passing tests is related to anxiety.

          4.  Students make it clear that they don't like being
evaluated under
               the conditions that typically obtain today.

     Two alternatives to the employment of typical testing instruments
that are invariably time-critical are portfolio assessment &
Computer-Adaptive testing.  Virtues of these applications were

     Much of the confusion over the validity of testing occurs because
assessment means different things to different people:  admissions,
funding agencies, administration, instructional support, counseling, and
those responsible for publishing standards & goals.

     Conclusion:  We need to focus on the principle that assessment
should be designed and executed to "make things [learning] better."

     Responders:   Gene Kerstiens observed that timed testing was not
utilized until World War I and then only as an expedient.  However, it
has persisted chiefly as an administrative convenience even though it
credits speed at the expense of mismeasuring and even ignoring the
degree of  accuracy.  Computer adaptive and portfolio assessment
alleviate this condition.  Bill Mathis gave examples of the different
ways assessment is perceived by faculty, students,and administrators.
The one shared perception is that all are anxious about being evaluated
because ratings too often are related to emotional and economic survival
rather than skill improvement.

PM General Session:  Georgine Materniak, "CAS Standards for Learning

          The history, purpose, and structure of the CAS, Council for
Advancement of Standards, was discussed while emphasizing that the
agency was initiated to focus on self-assessment of entire programs
rather than assessment of a program's individual components.  CAS
presently is serving 29 professional associations including NADE and
CRLA to facilitate development and continued adjustment of standards
that identify their goals and provide direction for further development.

         She noted that developing guidelines for learning assistance
was a particularly troublesome task because the list of practicies,
beliefs, programs, and services associated with learning assistance are
so diverse.  Finding language considered as appropriately representing
the mission and goals of various LAC facilities takes time and a great
deal of negotiating.

          The usefulness of standards for and effective practices of
learning assistance centers was discussed.  1.  A checklist of typical
programatic fatures includes components that you may want or need to
complement your program, this document being support for adoption in
order to "meet national standards."  2. The document includes guidelines
for training and assessment of staff involved in LAC programs.
3.  As conditions of learning and the problems associated with them
change, careful revision of standards can supply direction to members.

         Responders:  Rick Sheets emphasized the need for surveillance
of the changes that advancing technology concerning learning and how
documenting standards can be of help.  Frank Christ noted that
establishing standards can be particularly helpful to practitioners
needing support, especially budgetary, in order to keep pace with
technological change.

This Report Hastily Composed and Apologetically Submitted by
Gene Kestiens <[log in to unmask]>