On October 18th, Georgia Southern will be launching a Survey of Assessment Culture distributed by Sam Houston State University. This survey marks an important milestone in the IAA strategic plan, and we anticipate that the insights we gain from it will drive innovations and developments over the coming years to better serve our faculty and students.

Georgia Southern is the fifth institution of higher learning I have worked at during my career (sixth if you count my graduate teaching assistantship), and each one has had a unique culture of assessment. That culture is shaped by many factors -- the type of institution, its size, the characteristics of the student body and faculty, its region of accreditation, its age, and its institutional mission, to name a few.

Our culture of assessment is defined by some of the big questions that guide what we do as an educational institution:

What do we value?
How do we set goals to support those values?
How do we know when we are succeeding?
Who benefits when we succeed?
How do we adapt and adjust to do better?

And our culture of assessment is focused more specifically on our students and their learning. I think we would all agree that learning is more than just a simple equation of
knowledge in = knowledge out, but that it is also made up of ways of thinking and problem solving, interacting with others, and navigating evolving social and global contexts. Assessment is a process of fine tuning the complex process of learning. It is looking really closely at the details of what makes learning work and then figuring out ways to make it work better for our specific students, at this specific university, at this point in time -- together, through a collaborative effort.

Sam Houston State University defines a culture of assessment as "an institutional ethos or way of operating that uses assessment for ongoing program or curricular improvement." That is a very broad definition that I believe we will elaborate on through participation in the Survey of Assessment Culture. On October 18th, if you receive the invitation to participate in the survey, I hope you will respond and help create a unique, Georgia Southern definition for the culture of assessment that reflects the commitment to excellence in teaching and learning that motivates so much of what you do.

Thanks for being part of our culture!