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Pedagogo S3E3: Examining the Intersections of Assessment and Equity

Dr. Gianina Baker, acting director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), joins Dr. Divya Bheda for an in-depth conversation that covers equity and assessment, rubrics, and some “promising practices” coming out of HBCUs.

Guest Bio

Dr. Gianina Baker is the acting director at the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a resource-research institute founded to discover, document, and disseminate effective assessment of student learning practices at colleges and universities. NILOA’s work on the relationship between equity and assessment helped to start a national conversation on equity-centered assessment practice. Dr. Baker holds a PhD in Educational Organization & Leadership with a Higher Education concentration from the University of Illinois, a M.A. in Human Development Counseling from Saint Louis University, and a B.A. in Psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University. 

Transcript

Announcer: 

Pedagogo, the show that brings education to your ears and meta mastery to your assessments. Today’s episode examines the intersections of assessment and equity and explains the principles that you can apply to improve rubrics, provide feedback, and involve students. Pedagogo, brought to you by ExamSoft, the digital assessment solution that gives you actionable data for improved learning outcomes. When integrity matters, ExamSoft has you covered. 

Divya Bheda: 

Hello everyone. Thank you for being such invested listeners and tuning into season three of Pedagogo. A season that as you know, focuses on the big ideas and trends in education. I appreciate your interest and support and welcome you to what I think is gonna be an invigorating episode on assessment and equity with Dr. Gianina Baker. Dr. Baker is the acting director at the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, NILOA, which is a resource research institute founded to discover document and disseminate effective assessment of student learning practices, both at colleges and at universities. 

Divya Bheda: 

Now, NILOA’s work on the relationship between equity and assessment helped to start a national conversation on equity center assessment practice. As director of NILOA, she is not just a leader and manager of people and processes internally, but she is a visionary, a connector, a collaborator, and a thought leader who translates ideas into action to advance assessment best practice at the national level. 

Divya Bheda: 

She has been with NILOA for over seven years. And as you can imagine, over that time has shaped the development and dissemination of a lot of free resources around assessment excellence, innovation and scholarship. She does all of this work with NILOA, right? But she is also a board member of the Champagne Community Unit School District #4, school board, and recently helped pass a resolution that declares racism a public health crisis, ensuring that the necessary attention and resources can be directed to this issue. Now, given the political nature of school boards in higher education, you can see she really has a lot of fortitude and strength to take all of this on simultaneously. So let’s get this conversation started. Welcome, Gianina. 

Dr. Baker: 

Thank you for having me. That was a great introduction and I loved it. Thank you very much. 

Divya Bheda: 

Thank you for being here. Could you share what brought you into assessment and education? Like what drives you? What’s your, your passion? 

Dr. Baker: 

Since I was little, my dad always has told us that knowledge is power so much so that, that stuck with me and is the title of my dissertation. So, um- 

Divya Bheda: 

Wow, I didn’t know that. (laughs). 

Dr. Baker: 

(laughs). It is, I put it in Latin, uh, Scientia est propentia. Um, that is also part of my background. That has stuck with me and through me, and definitely is the reason why I, I’ve, uh, gone through education in the ways that I have. So absolutely, knowledge is power. 

Divya Bheda: 

So I can see that you’re, you’re doing all of this work in service for our country, for higher education, and it’s so wonderful. And K-12 education as well. So it’s so wonderful again, to have you here with us to talk to us about equity and assessment. As acting director of NILOA, you are at the crux of a number of conversations happening at the accreditation level across states, across institutions and professional associations. So what are the big ideas being discussed and that, and that are gaining importance right now? 

Dr. Baker: 

Great question. And one that we get often in that- 

Divya Bheda: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Dr. Baker: 

… you know, as a, we consider ourselves as a national leader, we always are trying to, to hear what’s out in the field, test different toolkits or activities, trying to make sure that it’s relevant in that it actually addresses what our audiences are looking for. And so in those conversations, we’ve had quite a bit happening. I think, maybe you have the pandemic that hit this past year and a half and has completely shifted what we know today is higher education and what that looks like. 

Dr. Baker: 

And in many ways I’m grateful for it because without that disruption, this unfortunate, deadly dis- disruption we would not have, and our systems would have stayed the same. And now what I’m seeing and what I’m hearing, are all of these places in which faculty and staff are really trying to understand their students more, trying to help address some of their needs, whether that be in the classroom, or maybe even helping them outside of the classroom. 

Dr. Baker: 

What I hear all the time from our, our K-12 teachers, right this past year was about grace, compassion and flexibility. And we’re really starting to bring some of that, not only into the classroom, but just with, to each other as a whole. And so I think that just even within those pieces we’re starting to change and shift the narrative of what higher education can be, right? Its value and its purpose is much more than just, you know, giving degrees and certificates, it’s becoming a healing centered place. 

Dr. Baker: 

And so that’s definitely one that I would say is a, is a big topic being discussed. At least we’re trying to bring it to the forefront. Uh, K-12 has been doing trauma-centered pedagogy, uh, thinking about what that looks like. And then you have a couple of scholars within that who’ve talked about healing-centered and what that looks like in terms of teaching and learning. And so to build off of K-12 because there’s some great stuff that we should build off in K-12. 

Divya Bheda: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Dr. Baker: 

How do we bring that into our, our colleges and universities? What does and can healing-centered assessment look like? I think that we’ve tried to talk a little bit about that, at least get the, the first pieces out in our survey report last year in, in August. And then some other assessment professionals in the field have also started to kind of talk about what this looks like. Karen Maloney and Rebecca Hong, one of my favorite papers from this past year, occasional paper for NILOA talked about like this new normal, and- 

Divya Bheda: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Dr. Baker: 

… that we can’t go back. We only can go forward. So what are we bringing with us in this? Coupling it with, again, everything that’s happening in the world. I think if you listen to other people, right, it wasn’t just one pandemic, it was several. And so how do we heal from some of the racial tensions? How do we heal from economic, uh, losses? And so all of these things are kind of coming together I hope to provide us to this healing-centered to place. So definitely healing-centered is one. 

Dr. Baker: 

I also say that within that even, is this equity and assessment, and you talked a little bit earlier about how we’ve helped lead some of that national conversation. If you’re interested, I’d invite you to go look at our website. We have two occasional papers and the very first one kicked off back in, I believe 2017, it feels like. And that one started just helping people think about this relationship between equity and assessment. And then even within that, you know, what are some concepts that, you know, we’re thinking about? 

Dr. Baker: 

And so our authors there, Eric Montenegro and Natasha Jankowski really did push on what that could look like and then invited others to help conceptualize what that is. And so you’ll see a variety of equity responses from folks around the country, which is amazing and how they’re looking at and thinking about equity and assessment. People have branched off to, to provide frameworks and other pieces. So this is definitely a conversation that we were happy to kick off, but it will continue. And I’m sure we’ll talk a little bit more about what that looks like. 

Divya Bheda: 

I so appreciate you talking about healing-centered assessment practice, educational practice, and then letting folks know, you know, that there are all these occasional papers, frameworks, resources, responses that people have posted on your website. You can just search N-I-L-O-A, the website will show up. Otherwise you can go to our Pedagogo website and, and link to the website. The direct website is learningoutcomesassessment.org. And all of these resources are free for higher ed professionals, there are lots of tools, lots of resources, lots of research on there. Gianina, for those, those folks who don’t know how, how does healing center assessment, what does that look like? You said student-centered, like acknowledging grace, compassion, flexibility, all of that seems to be at the core, uh, what else or how el- how else does it translate? 

Dr. Baker: 

Absolutely. There’s so many connections of the healing-centered with equity- 

Divya Bheda: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Dr. Baker: 

… uh, centered assessment work. So there’s many things that you can do. One thing that I’ve seen and talk, we’ve talked about quite a bit with just different faculty and, and staff is around the syllabus. And even thinking of that, not as a contract, but as a covenant between students and that faculty member, instead of, you know, just writing down the deadlines and the dates of when things are due and what chapters you’re gonna read, really putting in there what you think students need to know and where they can go and where there’s this behavioral covenant of trust that’s being built. Some of it’s even in the coursework itself, ensuring that you’re not necessarily bringing up, especially over this past year and a half, if people have really been at, they have experienced some tough losses, right? 

Dr. Baker: 

Thinking about, and if you know who your students are and what those losses were, you can at least be upfront while you might not be able to stop everything from happening. And you also know the supports that your students need. And so faculty members have started to do more regular feedback in terms of not just talking with students in class, but even outside of it through emails and making sure that they’re just checking in a little bit more. We’ve talked quite a bit internally and, and with both k-12 and higher ed, right around, uh, formative assessments. 

Dr. Baker: 

I think that we’ve seen this now more than ever, um, making sure that we know what students are bringing into the classroom so that we can help get, you know, push their learning. If we just jump in, as we’ve always done, that’s not necessarily healing center. That’s us trying to get, you know, the things done that we need to get done, but we’re not helping students in that way. And so if we start to really think about the different ways in which our students move and the different needs that our students have, it can be healing-centered in many ways. 

Dr. Baker: 

And I’m sure there are so many other ways that people have been doing this work over this past year and a half. And so by starting again, a conversation like this much like equity and assessment, we’re hoping that people are willing to share what it is that they’ve been doing to help heal, um, many of our students. 

Divya Bheda: 

As a faculty member, when I’m listening to this, it sounds like what I need to be doing is prioritizing my students, prioritizing getting to know my students, prioritizing relationship building with my students, um, trying to understand their lived experience, the circumstances, the struggles that they face and, and building flexibility into my curriculum, into my assessment, into my expectations of excellence, to allow for them to flourish. And I’m not judging them for, for lapses or delays in submission or for, for the way they do things while still holding them accountable. Because, right? 

Dr. Baker: 

You’re on it 100%. 

Divya Bheda: 

Okay. 

Dr. Baker: 

I mean, that’s exactly what we saw. I mean, if you look at our survey report from last year, faculty and staff were absolutely doing that. Being incredibly flexible with deadlines, right? Not saying that don’t turn it in and I’ll still give you an A, that was not happening, but they were understanding where their students were and then adjusting accordingly to that. 

Divya Bheda: 

So building on that, people have different understandings of assessment, right? Assessment is grading. Assessment is, you know, what we have to do for the accreditor, assessment is, uh, what we do, have to do for reporting or for funders. There are all these various understandings of assessment and where it plays out because it plays out in, in the classroom, outside the classroom, in general education. And so when one thinks of equity and assessment, what are we, what are we thinking about? Or where does that manifest? 

Dr. Baker: 

Great question. We have thought about it in so many different ways. I think if there’s one piece that I hope you take from the conversation is that students are at the center of this work. Um- 

Divya Bheda: 

And they are human beings, full human beings. I, I keep, I kept hearing that, at least in my mind, as you were talking. (laughs). 

Dr. Baker: 

I love it. You’re right. And I mean, when we say students, or we say learners, right, I think in our minds, we think of that 18 to 24-year-old, but I hope that the concept could be that it’s you and me. We also have been students not of the 18-24 age. And so if we think about whom that is, students are at the center are getting some good feedback from them to adjust and make sure that they know and can do whatever we say that they’re going to be able to know and do once they graduate with this degree or certificate from our institution. 

Dr. Baker: 

But as we think about equity, what we are terming equity minded assessment, um, you can also hear it as equity-centered assessment, we started off this conversation around culturally responsive assessment, which definitely took its roots from the culturally responsive evaluation field that has so much literature, so many examples. And so pushing on that, we got to this culturally responsive assessment space. And then as we continue to learn more and push more or terming this equity-minded assessment. 

Dr. Baker: 

And within that, we talk about just five different ways that really help us think about what it could look like. So, well, the first place is just checking your biases and making sure that you’re asking reflective questions. Hopefully, you’re addressing assumptions, positions of privilege. These are all incredibly important. And I think even over this past year and a half, people have really been working on this piece alone and not really thinking about how it can tie to, to assessment. I think that if you start here, all of these other questions kind of just develop from it. 

Divya Bheda: 

So when you say check your biases in assessment, you’re talking about faculty rethinking like the assumptions that they make based on a student and how they appear or how they respond in the classroom or their written work with, like there may be a grammar issue. They may be second language English learners, but then they are strong and content and to be able to differentiate between the two. And so to check like those nuances in terms of practical applicability, right? 

Dr. Baker: 

Absolutely. 

Divya Bheda: 

Yeah. 

Dr. Baker: 

I think, um, if there’s something that we’ve talked about just within NILOA for a while, much of assessment work is trying to address assumptions, right? They’re things that we think we know. And so it’s, how do we put together some evidence to actually understand and, and back that claim up. And so yes, what you’re saying in terms of what faculty can do, absolutely. I think the, the examples that you gave were spot on, and I think it’s probably, um, if you’re listening to this, you can probably think of a time when perhaps you did one, uh, one of the two and you were like- 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. Yeah. 

Dr. Baker: 

… “Ah, hopefully I checked my bias there,” but yeah. 

Divya Bheda: 

(laughs). Thank you. Okay. So that was the first one around checking your biases. The second step? 

Dr. Baker: 

The second one is using multiple sources of evidence that’s appropriate actually for the students that are being assessed. And, you know, just the, the level of the effort in the assessment approach. And so oftentimes much like we were just talking about, you use one source of evidence and say, now this is the claim I’m making. I think that’s probably indicative of just the world that we live in today, but how can we actually work to triangulate the information by putting all of these different multiple sources, right? So not just the latest NSSE survey that you’re doing, but how can we also have a student focus group, maybe pushing out a little bit more of that data and, and really finding out more, because it could be different than what we actually found out. 

Dr. Baker: 

And I, I love this example. Uh, we talk about it all the time and, and (laughs) every time I hear it, Natasha would, our, our former director, Natasha would make me laugh because there’s a, an institution that put together a survey and, uh, send it out to their students. And the students said that they were lonely. And, you know, we all have been lonely at, at points in times in our life, but this institution then decided to put together a weekend program for students, because they said they were lonely. Only to find out after doing all this, spending all this money, using all of these resources, no one attended, not one student attended. 

Divya Bheda: 

Wow. 

Dr. Baker: 

And the students (laughs) afterward were like, “Yeah, we said we were lonely, but like, that was actually fine. Yes, we’re on our phones in our rooms we’re lonely, but you don’t need to create programming.” And that’s just one example of, you know, yes, you might see it on your survey and you want to address it and it was great ’cause you were listening to the students. However, getting some multiple sources of actual data from students might have helped guide what that improvement or that program could have looked like, as opposed to just putting in something that, that students didn’t really ask for. 

Divya Bheda: 

This is such a wonderful example because it goes back again, to while we are trying to engage in database decision-making, it’s things like this that then make people, uh, you know, question saying is data really necessarily? Like we can do it by anecdotes, right? (laughs). So, so it’s saying- 

Dr. Baker: 

One student only, yeah. 

Divya Bheda: 

Yes. (laughs). And so how do we look at multiple sources of data, both at the institutional level while making programming decisions and while making strategic decisions, but even in the classroom level, can we look at multiple sources of data and, and help our students also understand the need for that, those multiple sources of data and demonstrating their, um, knowledge and learning and all of that. And so the third element. 

Dr. Baker: 

The third element is including student perspectives and taking an action based on those perspectives. And I think the last example is obviously one, right, that can, can push on that. But there are several others. Um, as we think about students in our classes and how we might include them, whether it be co-constructing a rubric, um, there’s so many examples that are out there now or helping us think through even just the different assessments and the timing of it. So just asking students, they’re in potentially three, four courses at a time. 

Dr. Baker: 

And if it’s only in my course where I ask, you know, you’re taking a weekly exam, perhaps you’re also doing that for three other courses. So how can we really include students in that feedback process? Not take too much from them? Uh, I think another part of equity that I push on is if we’re asking students for their time and for their feedback regularly, that we include some type of incentive, especially for our students of color, who often are asked to be in many of these spaces and not compensated for their time and energy and feedback, but really including students and as a part of the decision-making. Don’t just include students just to say you’ve included them. And then, you know, take actions based off of something different. 

Dr. Baker: 

But if you’re intentional in wanting to include some perspectives, then making sure that they’re also a part of that decision-making. And so that, this is central to, to much of what we’ve talked about, um. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. So don’t engage in tokenism, have students be co-creators of, of whether it’s curriculum, whether it’s rubrics, whether it’s assessment design, um, and then getting information from them about what they are dealing with and then taking action. So making sure we take action so that it’s not just like, oh, give me all this feedback and then nothing happens. And so then the student disengages once again from everything higher ed, so thank you. We were on number four, I think, right? 

Dr. Baker: 

Number four. 

Divya Bheda: 

Yes. 

Dr. Baker: 

Increasing transparency and assessment results and actions taken, which bounces exactly off what you just said, right? Students, they’re giving the feedback and then they’re like, you did nothing with it, right? (laughs). 

Divya Bheda: 

(laughs). 

Dr. Baker: 

How do we actually then communicate that back out is incredibly important. There’ve been so many efforts from different institutions and trying to, you know, put that information back, like you asked, we listened, here’s what we’ve done. I think that this is incredibly difficult. Um, especially like today. 

Divya Bheda: 

Yeah. 

Dr. Baker: 

Because we have, while we’ve gotten a decent amount of feedback from our students and trying to, to make changes, we’re in this period of uncertainty. I definitely understand that there is some of that grace, compassion and flexibility in this, but also realizing that we are, we have, many of us have responded to this past year. And so then in that response, have we documented what we’ve been able to do, how we try to address student needs and what are we taking with us? 

Dr. Baker: 

We’ve learned some, some really good things. Some institutions stop taking the ACT, SAT as a score. They dropped that as a requirement- 

Divya Bheda: 

Yeah. 

Dr. Baker: 

… and said, okay, there’s other things that we should be thinking about for our students, those non-cognitive variables. So within that, you know, are we taking that forward? I’ve seen some institutions already bring that back and how are we trying to move forward and make sure that we’ve learned from the mistakes of our past? 

Divya Bheda: 

Sure. 

Dr. Baker: 

Um, I think is an important piece here. 

Divya Bheda: 

Yeah. And not fall into the trap of comfort, right? Because it’s always, when we go back to what was normal, it always, like it’s easy to go back to what was tradition, what we did. And so making sure that we communicate, making sure that we are transparent with the results and, and we take action on it. Thank you. Yes, absolutely. 

Dr. Baker: 

And just even what didn’t work. I think that so often- 

Divya Bheda: 

There’s fear around that though, right? 

Dr. Baker: 

There’s so much fear, but being transparent about, you know, we tried this and it didn’t work and here’s why it doesn’t work for our students. That’s an important conversation to also have, not just the successes, but also what didn’t. You thought you addressed a need of your students potentially that did not pan out. I think that we do, we’ve had conversations like this among several organizations, you know, can we have sessions at conferences that are like, “Tell us what didn’t work.” (laughs). But then, you know, fear definitely is around that. But being even transparent in the, the things that didn’t work or the things that, uh, that students didn’t like, all of those are incredibly important for us as an institution to learn. 

Divya Bheda: 

Yep. And, and at the individual level too, and that’s where the fear like significantly comes in because you’re like, am I gonna lose my job? Or am I gonna, you know, am I not gonna get tenure? Or am I not gonna… And so creating a culture, I know a colleague of mine talked about failure camp, like ha- you’re leader setting up this space where it was okay to talk and it was good to talk about the failure. So thank you for that. Okay. And then the last one. 

Dr. Baker: 

Well, you’re gonna be mad at me. 

Divya Bheda: 

(laughs). 

Dr. Baker: 

‘Cause there’s actually six. 

Divya Bheda: 

Okay (laughs). 

Dr. Baker: 

But I said five. 

Divya Bheda: 

Okay. 

Dr. Baker: 

That’s okay, or? 

Divya Bheda: 

Yes. The more the better. 

Dr. Baker: 

I’m admitting my mistake. (laughs). 

Divya Bheda: 

There, we’ve got a, we’ve got a live example folks. (laughs). 

Dr. Baker: 

Oh gosh. So the fifth one is ensuring that your collected data can be meaningfully dis-aggregated and interrogated. And I think what we’re seeing out in the field right now is a push on this, um, specifically, and not just desegregation at a broad level. I think we’ve been seeing that, right? You’ll see by gender perhaps, or by age, but really starting to dig down, um, and ensuring that we can actually make meaning and help make sense of the data that’s in front of us. And this also includes involving students and helping us think through what it is that we’re seeing, because data on paper, it’s just, oftentimes you see it. 

Dr. Baker: 

And you think that your, you have potential solutions and you’re addressing it, but you really might not know there might be something deeper. Um, and we even found in our, our survey report from last year, the, the COVID survey, the respondents are answering wanted and needed more support around qualitative assessment and some more examples about what that can look like, just because we are very much ingrained to do this quantitative work. And, you know, there’s always people around to help us with that, but what does this look like qualitatively that can really help us much more meaningfully desegregate and interrogate the data? And so we’re seeing, um, definitely more people interested, engaged in that approach and excited that this is a part of what equity minded assessment could, could look like. 

Divya Bheda: 

Okay. What, what you’re sharing here reminds me actually, of one of the episodes with Dr. Katherine Wellborn that we had the season, she was talking about change management and, and one of the, and one of the things that she kind of alluded to is that we should always have a 30,000 foot view of things, as well as, you know, don’t lose, um, don’t lose the forest for the trees and don’t lose the trees for the forest, right? So you have to come down to that granular level and be able to look at what is the nuance? That nuance I often feel as a mixed methodology person, it’s often from qualitative research that you can get the nuance in appropriate strategy, appropriate decision-making. You get the big 30,000 picture from the numbers, but then you need to dive deeper and need to look at things closer as well. And then the sixth one? 

Dr. Baker: 

Sixth one and final one. Yes. 

Divya Bheda: 

(laughs). 

Dr. Baker: 

And if I haven’t mentioned, these are all covered in our January 2020 occasional paper on it’s “A New Decade For Assessment: Embedding Equity into Assessment Praxis.” I invite you to read up even more on that if you’re interested, but the sixth one is, making an evidence-based changes that address issues of equity that are context specific. We have had such good conversations around this, particularly. And even in this space, in this particular one, and if you look at all of the five, even before that, making sure that the evidence that you’re collecting is, is context specific, but also like you are a part of this process. So how are you collecting evidence, whose voices, what evidence are you elevating? 

Divya Bheda: 

Okay. 

Dr. Baker: 

All of that is important in, in thinking about, um, the changes that you’re actually making. And so within this, we really do have conversations around institutional type, especially if you think about our MSIs, particularly our HBCUs, Historically Black Colleges and, and Universities and our community colleges, right? It might not make sense to, to hear what you’re hearing at the national level. Um, especially for some of our four-year universities. It might not make sense for you to do that here, but if you are really doing those things above, right, you’re using multiple sources, including student perspectives, ensuring that the data is dis-aggregated, you’re really able to make changes that address your students, their needs and your context and your mission. 

Dr. Baker: 

So we’ve asked earlier and often what is the value and the purpose of assessment. And, and here, what we’re saying is let’s push a little bit beyond that. You know, what does assessment mean to your, the history of your institution, the mission that your institution has, the students that you serve. And so hopefully that will help you tell a better story about why you’re doing what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for and not just making these broad sweeping changes that again, are just often assumptions. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. No, and, and it’s so, it’s so perfect what you said about what stories you’re gonna tell, because as I was listening to you talk about this, knowing your context and making sure that it’s context specific, that’s what came to mind. It was like you have to be a good storyteller, understand what the data is saying and be able to contextualize it and then provide that perspective, adequate perspective to the audience. And throughout all the six points that you’ve shared, I can see the importance of communication skills, right? 

Divya Bheda: 

Communication skills in terms of being able to disseminate information, to share out the findings, to involve, to invite students in, to build relationships. That communication seems to be such a big role, which I don’t know that it’s something that we have officially been trained on for all of these various purposes. And it sounds like any assessment professional, any faculty, any leader in higher ed needs to hone in on these skills to be able to bring people together and to be able to do good assessment work. 

Divya Bheda: 

So keeping these six or crucial elements of equity in assessment, uh, one thing that you did talk about was this quantitative versus qualitative. And that brings me to my next question, where I’m seeing a trend and maybe it’s just me, but I’m seeing a trend of more and more institutions looking at combining institutional research offices with assessment or data offices with assessment offices. Um, and I’m not so much, uh, the, you know, centers for teaching and learning or faculty development offices with assessment, right? I’m seeing that trend where job postings seem to be primarily about assessment and data, you know, quantitative data, data analytics skills. When I look at the competencies that are being asked, and that makes me, you know, I wanna ask you, what does this mean for the future of, of assessment? Do you have any concerns or questions that come up? Thoughts? 

Dr. Baker: 

Yes. I think there’s a rise in assessment positions. I was just on a webinar. It was with a friend from, uh, a, an HBCU who said that assessment positions, HBCUs are growing. And so as exciting as that is for the field in that institutions are recognizing the value that we can bring to the institution. Uh, perhaps the accreditors, the peer reviewers did say, you know, you probably should build on that office, right? Whatever the case may be, we are seeing that assessment is growing on our campuses and especially in helping us. And they’re growing because they want more assistance in helping make sense of the data. 

Dr. Baker: 

That said, you know, I was an IR director at a community college that ended up becoming a institutional effectiveness and planning position where I was in charge of strategic planning, accreditation, assessment, grants, all of those were important pieces. And I can re- even remember the interview. And (laughs) it was to grab this, this data together and tell us what you think like here you go have at it. What are you finding? 

Dr. Baker: 

And I can remember just even in that interview, I’m fairly strong quantitatively and definitely much more qualitative. And so I had to use that to my benefit. And so when I was reporting on the data and I started talking about the different places that we could triangulate some of this, right? And what we could do, I think that just brought out a different side of the people that were in the room, because so much of it has been very quantitative that you potentially don’t realize the value that qualitative can bring. And so I do think that it’s on some of us as well to help show if they haven’t seen the value of it, to help show what, what you can provide. Um, and thinking about, uh, from a qualitative lens, how it can help. 

Dr. Baker: 

But again, you know, as I noted earlier, there definitely needs to be much more support around that. And so we have tried in a few ways to help bring some of those examples to light, whether it’s through some of our occasional papers or whether it’s through even some of the assessment and practices. Um, there’s so much out in the field, maybe a little bit harder to document because we’re out doing the work and people are like, I know I’m doing it. I just haven’t written it down. So the more examples that we can start to provide to other people, I think then they’ll see that there’s not just value, but it’s, it’s not that hard. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. 

Dr. Baker: 

And the data that you get is very rich. And so it’s exciting that we’re growing and we definitely need to push on what that means for that qualitative assessment and support and what that could look like. And in terms of just professional development as a whole, everyone can benefit from more again, there’s a couple of programs that are out there now specific to what assessment is, what it can look like. You know, you get in a certificate or a degree from it is now available, where it hadn’t been before. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. 

Dr. Baker: 

And so we’re all still kind of learning and growing in this field and, and hopefully we’re making it, it ours. 

Divya Bheda: 

And what you’re saying about, you know, paying attention to qualitative approaches and having more information out there about how that can help support institutional assessment and how that gives a fuller picture. I think for me, what it also speaks to is this, I see assessment and most of my colleagues in, in the assessment world, as assessment leaders, see assessment as influencing or partnering with curriculum and teaching and learning, they all go together. And so when it becomes only quantitative, that link of that full story, like you said, the full context is lost because then all of this training and learning and how one can impact the other can impact the other, that story is often lost. 

Divya Bheda: 

And so continuous improvement, I feel then becomes all just about the data. Are you showing me the numbers, then do something, show me the numbers. That’s often not the solution. That’s just an articulation of the problem or a finding, right? 

Dr. Baker: 

There are institutions that have been able to continue with their centers for teaching and learning through the years. There’ve been many that were not able. We’re actually starting to see a comeback of, uh, centers for teaching and learning on campuses. That said, depending on what resources you have, perhaps even teaming up with, uh, different faculty, all of us in the assessment world almost come from such different disciplines. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. 

Dr. Baker: 

And we bring those disciplines into the field of assessment. And we think about it differently. I love having conversations with assessment people because, uh, I can remember a conversation about how, you know, the theater is much like assessment or, you know, being in a band can also help you understand what your role is in assessment. We bring such interesting spaces into the field already. What we also need are those connections out. 

Dr. Baker: 

And so we have some amazing faculty here, even on the campus of the University of Illinois, who storytelling is their thing. And so even if we didn’t have a center for teaching and learning on campus, perhaps we partner with them and they can help us think about how we might use these different sources of data to help tell our story. I mean, just being creative about some of these things is also incredibly important and thinking, how can you partner with others, help me through. It’s been amazing just listening to the different stories of whom people were able to partner to, if you don’t have that traditional, you know, assessment office or I, IR office. 

Divya Bheda: 

Thank you for that amazing creative idea. Like look for partnerships outside of the traditional norm, to see where you can capitalize on skills and then bring people into assessment and push out assessments. I can see how that would help advance equity and assessment as well, and have multiple voices and, and information out there. I wanna shift gears from institutional assessment to classroom assessment for a little bit. So in the classroom, some of the ways I know you and I have talked about this before, but some of the ways where we see assessment and equity play out, as you shared earlier, is like, think about more formative assessment. 

Divya Bheda: 

Think about pre-testing, figuring out where students are, and then building on that knowledge. Think about standards-based grading. You talked about rubrics, including students and rubrics. Could you talk a little bit more about rubrics? Because oftentimes I find that when they work together on rubrics, it either, you know, meets that need or completely misses the mark. And then that makes people veer away completely, 180 degrees away from rubrics and say, rubrics don’t work. You know, it doesn’t fit my need. Could you talk to us a little bit about rubrics and how that can help advance equity? 

Dr. Baker: 

We definitely have great conversations around rubrics. I think if you have yet to see a rubric, I don’t know how you’ve escaped this long (laughs)- 

Divya Bheda: 

(laughs). 

Dr. Baker: 

… to not deny of seeing one. And we’ve seen good ones. We’ve seen bad ones. We’ve seen, uh, ones that we obviously perhaps wanna emulate and use in our own courses. And so rubrics are, are such a, an interesting topic. If we really think of rubrics so as this almost an essential tool, right? For understanding and improving student learning, there’s so many ways it could go. There’s so many different ways it could look. And so I feel in, in this conversation, particularly, that if we’re thinking about how rubrics can play a role, not just, and we talked about standards-based grading, not just in K-12, right, but also higher ed. It can be much more central to our educational experience than it is now. Some people are using it, some aren’t. 

Dr. Baker: 

I wanna get to really some of, some key points of thinking about rubrics in the space of what they can serve. And if we think of this in this broader light, there’s so many resources that we have in our website itself, uh, thinking about how to not just write a quality rubric, but how to use one. And so I hope that you’ll check out our site, look through our assessment and practices, specific to rubrics, even look at our occasional papers. We definitely have some that have addressed rubrics in, in some large classes, small classes. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. 

Dr. Baker: 

But there’s one in particular, is a viewpoint that was written by Laura Massa and Margaret Kasimatis. And I hope I’m saying their names correctly. They did a really good job. And just thinking broadly about what rubrics can be and what are some lessons that they’ve learned in developing them. And you said it earlier, Divya, working together as a, was one of the very first pieces of this. You, you can do it alone, but how much fun is that? It’s not. So working together. And that could be another faculty, that could be with your students, other people in your discipline, maybe not even on your campus, thinking about what that together looks like, could be different. 

Dr. Baker: 

Another one is just understanding the difference between rubrics for grading and assessment. You talked earlier as well, Divya, about what grading can do and how it can inform. Um, I think that this is an important one. We get this question all the time. You know, what’s the difference between grading? What’s the difference between assessment? It’s different from where you sit and, you know, if you like grades, if you don’t like grades, but understanding how rubrics can assist with that is important. 

Dr. Baker: 

Another one is testing the rubric before you use it, making sure that, you know, you’ve worked out some of, of those issues beforehand. Another piece is analyzing the results in a way that makes sense to you. We talked a little bit earlier about dis-aggregating data, you know, checking some, some of those assumptions. So trying to actually not just use the rubric and leave it alone, but how are you making sense of what it is that you’re seeing collectively within the rubrics, both from each student, right? And then all together. What does that mean for students? What does it mean for learning that particular assignment, your course? 

Dr. Baker: 

Um, and then lastly, tying those results back to curriculum and pedagogy. So thinking about how that will inform what you do next, or the next time you use that particular assignment or assessment, the viewpoint is relatively short, but also jam packed with just some almost promising practices, right? And, and developing a rubric. So I hope those are helpful. I hope that if you’ve done a rubric, right, those are all just easy check marks for you. And now if you wanna push on what equity minus assessment looks like, you’ll think about our conversation earlier and push even deeper, um, into some of that work. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. Because it helps standardize thinking in terms of expectations. So I wanna make sure like you listed off elements to rubrics or elements to rubric design. And I wanna make sure I highlight for our listeners, you know, a few points that you made, which was grading is not the same as assessments. If you ask any assessment professional, they will tell you that grading is not the same as assessment. When we think of the verb assessing yes, there is assessing involved in both. 

Divya Bheda: 

But when we think about the definition of assessment in higher ed and grading, it’s different. Because a lot of times when we think about grades, we think about grading on a curve. We think about can everybody get an A. Grading involves multiple elements, seat time, attendance, like all of that, versus assessment is about the learning outcome. So your grade can be reflective of the assessment of the learning outcome, but not necessarily, right? 

Divya Bheda: 

And, and so I wanna make sure that our listeners understand what that is and that grading is different from assessment. And so when we wanna make sure that we are trying to assess student learning, rubrics are so helpful, because then you’re clarifying, you’re being transparent Gianina, as you had said in the beginning, that transparency element of equity and assessment is so important. We’re being transparent about what our expectations are, laying that out for our students, helping them understand what they need to do or demonstrate so that they can be successful. 

Divya Bheda: 

And then I love the collaborative piece because I think that’s where we all struggle, because everything is easier if we just had to do it alone. (laughs). And so sometimes, you know, coming up with a rubric in collaboration or coming up with a curriculum in collaboration with other faculty, it just feels like I’m pulling teeth or I’m herding cats. And so just bringing it all together and saying, okay, we, we go through this process collectively, it’s an iterative process. You know, we have to pilot it to see whether it works so that we’re not, you know, giving students something and asking them to do something. And then they suffer in their performance as a result of our poor rubric design. 

Divya Bheda: 

And as Gianina mentioned, there are so many rubrics, right? Analytical rubrics, holistic rubrics, checklists rubrics, but just any way to make our implicit expectations explicit. So just thank you for those resources that you’re pointing us towards, that we can access really quickly to come together to say, okay, rubrics are important. Let’s do it. Let’s help advance equity and help students understand what we’re expecting them to show. 

Divya Bheda: 

Building on that, when people say it’s strains faculty, when people say rubrics, you know, are not really valid or, or the worst one yet, one of the most common beatings that rubrics takes is because people say, oh, because I have a rubric, I don’t have to give feedback to my students because the minute I select this, you know, like a score of three on this metric, the students should know what I mean. And the students should know where they have to improve. And so the feedback level comes down and faculty say that students then don’t rate them well in their course evaluation. So there are some faculty who believe rubrics don’t work because it brings down the feedback or the rubric doesn’t align with the assignment. So what would you say to, to faculty about who have these, who talk about these, these negative elements of rubrics? 

Dr. Baker: 

I think we’ve all potentially had bad experiences with rubrics. So I do not want to invalidate their experience around that, right? I think that that is definitely the case for some, and by acknowledging that we can then potentially move further and say, well, let’s, you know, how can we think about this differently? It, it’s true. I mean, I’m sure as a student yourself, you can think of a time where the rubric was not helpful. I can visualize one in particular where it was, you know, six, out to six points and you would get it back and there’s no feedback on it. 

Dr. Baker: 

And you’re like, well, that’s great that I potentially got all the points, but I wanted a little bit more, and there’s nothing written on my paper to show like, you know, good point, or you could have emphasized this more here, but it felt like you could have had more feedback. And so, as I think back to even as a student and now as a faculty member, how can I ensure that I’m giving that type of experience that I wanted to my own students and making sure that they at least understand the subject matter, right? And they’re building on it in the ways that I need them to, obviously, that’s how I’m trying to build my rubric. 

Dr. Baker: 

I’m showing these are the important points that hopefully you’re hitting. And if not, I need you to build my rubric better. If you’re a brand new faculty, it’s your first time, put it out there, let’s see where it goes. You, you’ll get feedback from students. You’ll get feedback from potentially other faculty members, but you gotta start somewhere. And I think that, you know, if you are intentional about making sure that you’re assignments are connected to what you’re evaluating them on to connect it to just those everyday things that you’re doing in your classes, it’ll all start to make sense. 

Dr. Baker: 

Um, Dr. Karen Ford, out of the University of Sheffield put together a really good rubric exercise, and we’ve done this for faculty at professional development workshops, or I’ve done it with some of our teaching assistants here on campus. With just helping understand the purpose of a rubric. And then if we push even more, how do we make sure that they’re as fair and as by as free as possible. And so if we also then want to, to add another element, right? If you, you’re comfortable, you think you’re comfortable with where your rubric sits, how can we ensure that, you know, you’re taking some of that subjective piece off of it, and you really are looking at a student’s work objectively to really understand, do they know and can do what I’m asking them to do, uh, and laying off of, of some of those other biases or assumptions that are, that could possibly come about. 

Dr. Baker: 

And so if you’re really working on your rubrics, we can get to that space, um, and would love, you know, more examples out in the field about what, and to show what that can look like. Um, especially those rubrics that allow for feedback within the rubrics itself from students where you’re almost having a conversation back and forth. I mean, there’s some, some really rich rubrics that are out there that can help, I think, alleviate some of the concerns of faculty and not just, you know, perhaps you’re only seeing it in one way. Maybe there’s, maybe there’s another rubric that might strike your fancy a bit more. 

Divya Bheda: 

Thank you for helping people think through different ways to address the gaps that they experience while utilizing rubrics. I appreciate that. And so building on that, so we have rubrics, you know, help standardize grading, help standardize assessment. What about formative assessment? Because I know you talked about that as being a tool rule for equity to advance equity. So could you talk a little bit more about what that entails or how faculty can incorporate more? Is it more formative assessment will lead to more equity? 

Dr. Baker: 

Yeah, I think formative assessment it’s being used more so, especially as a result of the pandemic. We’ve talked in the assessment field often about formative and summative assessment, right? Where summative oftentimes very high stake usually used to evaluate student learning at the end of some type of unit or course or program, where formative is, it’s more intermittent, right? Where you’re trying to monitor student learning and possibly, and hopefully, right, providing regular feedback to your students or to whomever, um, you’re working with. 

Dr. Baker: 

And so if we think about how formative can play a role in advancing equitable, it’s that especially upfront we know who our students are. And then from there we can address their needs. We can think about our curriculum and how we’re trying to actually, you know, get some of these learning outcomes that we said that you’re gonna get as a result of taking this course, right? 

Dr. Baker: 

How can we get that into the semester while also understanding where students are. Oftentimes when you just jump right in, you have no idea where students are and in some of these conversations, and I think even more so after this past year, perhaps it didn’t get every single learning outcome of the previous course. That’s often served as almost that pre-req for that next course. So how can you at least start off that course with some type of assessment to help understand where those students are and then push forward, I think is, uh, again, a, a great example of not just equitable assessment, but also healing. You can learn what they didn’t know and, and maybe involve and include some of that in your class. 

Divya Bheda: 

So, so it almost sounds like it’s a way to monitor student growth or enable student growth. You could use any time type of assignment or assessment to do that so long as it doesn’t impact the grade, like it’s not high stakes, it doesn’t, you know, result in pass or fail, but you could do that in ways where then students are able to show growth. You’re able to take stock of where they are, where they need to be, you know, engage in interventions or a mediation is needed. So having that constant check-in helps you figure out whether the students have learned what you want them to learn, or whether they are misconstruing the information or not where you want them to be. So that then you can modify your teaching and curriculum accordingly to help them learn. Am I articulating what you’re saying? 

Dr. Baker: 

Absolutely. Oftentimes we do hear, well, this is creating more work for us, because now you’re asking us to do this and if they didn’t get the concepts, then now you’re saying to include that and, you know, they should have gotten that in the, the previous course and- 

Divya Bheda: 

Yeah. Yeah. 

Dr. Baker: 

Yes. But if we are truly here for students, I mean, we have to do that. It’s gonna take you just as much work in many ways to catch them up anyway. And so why not just do some formative assessments to understand where they are. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. 

Dr. Baker: 

And then, you know the end goal, right? You already have your learning outcomes for your course, you know that you wanna get there. That helps you almost map out how you’re gonna get there. 

Divya Bheda: 

And I can see how, you know, when you say that formative assessments help healing-centered practices or reflect healing-centered practices, as you’re talking about this, like the minute you know that a student doesn’t know something that they should already know, then it’s such a perfect, like if you see that as a trend or something, it’s such a perfect, um, data point or data set to go to, you know, your department head or your program faculty, and say something is not happening. 

Divya Bheda: 

Like the curriculum we need to rethink, like they’re not learning. And we need to shift the conversation because help shift the conversation and the blame from this student is lazy, or this student didn’t put in enough effort, like can see, like students have not grappled with this concept very well, or they’ve not understood it. And let’s see what we can do from a curriculum or a pedagogy standpoint, or we need build in. Or we all assume that students were learning how to write somewhere. We all assumed that student learned APA and how to do PowerPoint presentation somewhere. But geez, nobody realized that they’ve not learned it anywhere, right? (laughs). 

Dr. Baker: 

Yes. Yes. I, I, I, so I was in a workshop even this summer and the technology was amazing. I can’t even remember what it was that we were using, but we could not figure it out. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. 

Dr. Baker: 

And so we, as I, as professionals in this space and who regularly use different tools, it was very frustrating because we couldn’t even get our ideas out because we couldn’t use the tool. And so imagine our own students who are, we always go back to this example of a faculty member, wanting the students to develop this brochure. And they didn’t know how to like, do actually like do the brochure using the technology. They had all the information, they just couldn’t put it in. So we didn’t even get to understand if our students learned or what they knew and could do. We just knew that they couldn’t access the brochure piece of it. And we’re like, well, if, if the brochure is like the, the least of it, can we just give them that template? And now they do it. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. Right. 

Dr. Baker: 

And I’m, just that example from, (laughs) my own personal example from this summer, I’m like, ah, like you didn’t even get to half of what I know, because we spent more time trying to figure the tool out. And yes, the next time we use it down the road, it’ll be easier. But that one time where we were all together and we could have really benefited from the learnings together, we didn’t even get there because we couldn’t use it. So I, I definitely take that with me. Um, as I’m thinking about just courses, assessments, things like that. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. And, and what you’re saying also reminds me of this common thing that I hear when I do my consults with, you know, with universities and programs is it’s not spoon feeding. Like giving the template, being explicit about all these implicit expectations, it’s not spoon feeding because it’s giving students the ability to practice, the ability to see best examples, the ability to see, okay, what does a good paper look like? So the more examples we give, what we want for our students is for them to learn. 

Divya Bheda: 

So the more examples and the more learning we can give them, then we can say, I’ve taught you all of this now. So I, know that you should know this. And now let me assess you and engage in a summative assessment to figure out whether they’ve learned everything. But otherwise the assumption that, oh, you should know all this you’re an adult, like doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of our students. So two more questions. Um, very, very different questions on different topics. So any thoughts on artificial intelligence and the way like people are looking at big data and big data analytics and how that can impact teaching and learning and what we need to be keeping in mind as educators, if we go down that path, if we start exploring that path to ensure equity and assessment and equity and student success? 

Dr. Baker: 

Yeah. This is definitely a discussion that is up and coming. I sat in a couple of discussions of this, and I’m still trying to, you know, wrap my head around what all of this means, um, in terms of assessment, but definitely AI is taking hold of all fields and assessment, of course, is one of them. You know, when we were first doing some work with the U.S. Chamber foundation around, um, employees, it’s interesting in how machine learning and, and things like that have come about. 

Dr. Baker: 

And so the conversations that we were having around just how AI was, is incredibly helpful, especially to employers and trying to, you know, machine read all of these applications and interviews and all these things, right? You know, it can also be a detriment. And so how can we use what we’ve learned within the fields to inform AI? So for instance, you talked about big data and big data can definitely tell us much of what’s out there. 

Dr. Baker: 

We were disaggregating that data, um, pretty deeply in trying to make sense of it. And so in some ways it can be in conflict with each other, but we also have to think about, you know, how could they, how could that work together for us to be able to learn and make some real imp- improvements in student learning, um, that hopefully, again, as fair as possible. As by, as free as possible, you know, whatever we’re putting into this system is what we’re gonna get out. So how can we have those early conversations before, you know, you get to looking at the big data. Um, so that way we can help make sense of what comes out, out of that. 

Dr. Baker: 

So there’s lots of conversations that are happening. I’m grateful to continue to be a part of them as, as this field is, all this grows, um, and trying to understand how it could be useful to us. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. So it almost sounds from what you’re saying, that we, we still need to keep that lens, that understanding of the student element of things when we think about data. So data shouldn’t ever just become numbers, and we always need to keep the human element in everything that we do, um, in, in all the practices, all the ways we deploy, because then if we deploy (laughs) artificial intelligence in the wrong ways, it can be misused and, and can misrepresent and can actually cause more harm. 

Divya Bheda: 

So the last question that I have for you is I know your passion lies in community college work and supporting the excellence and innovative ideas coming out of HBCUs. So could you share some key projects or initiatives that we should be paying attention to that are coming out of these institutions that can help us learn more about equity and assessment best practices? 

Dr. Baker: 

It’s interesting that, you know, in asking for, for even best practices, you’ve been trying to push the notion that it’s promising practices because best, sometimes implies, uh, the institutions that have had historically, you know, resources, just tons of them. 

Divya Bheda: 

Yep. 

Dr. Baker: 

Right? 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. 

Dr. Baker: 

And so then they often are pushed as a best practice. And so many of our HBCUs and our community colleges are involved in some of these initiatives that are incredibly promising for our students, but you don’t know about them. Often because perhaps communication-wise, they’re not putting as much out as other institutions, but also we don’t have a good way to really highlight those examples. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. No, and it’s what you said before, right? That oftentimes you’re so busy doing the work that you don’t have time to publish about it. I feel like that- 

Dr. Baker: 

And that’s exactly the conversation. (laughs). 

Divya Bheda: 

Yeah. Yep. Uh-huh (affirmative). 

Dr. Baker: 

It’s exactly it. And so we are trying to figure out some, some better ways to help them, not only communicate, um, but uplift and show from our national lens, the work that’s happening there. And so we teamed up with HBCU Sequoia. Um, there’s some information on our website about them. And this, what I love is that this is a collaboration between a bunch of HBCUs across the country and trying to do exactly what we’re talking about is get together to document and to write about it in scholarly journals and places, work with accrediting agencies to help them understand their institutions and their students, especially when it comes to those uh, visits and self-studies. So it’s been exciting to partner with them, uh, to help understand, you know, what are some of those key initiatives and projects that are out there. And it is wide ranging. It’s wide ranging. (laughs). 

Divya Bheda: 

(laughs). 

Dr. Baker: 

Everyone’s doing something for sure. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. 

Dr. Baker: 

In terms of community colleges, I think what we’re seeing out in the field right now is that they’re asking to be highlighted. So when we attended, um, a few conferences, even these past few, over the, even the, the past year and a half, and every conversation, what I love the most, having worked at a community college is, is that assessment people are asking, you know, where are we at? We don’t see selves in this work. We don’t see ourselves in these examples. And so not only are they asking- 

Divya Bheda: 

Wow. 

Dr. Baker: 

… they’re also trying to tell us, you know, we also have good assessment practices. How are, do you highlight us as well? 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. 

Dr. Baker: 

And so that’s something that we’re, that’s forthcoming, actually, we’re trying to also work with here on our campus Office of Community College Research and Leadership to really push on, um, the examples that they have around culturally sustaining pedagogies. How are they also thinking about that in terms of assessment? And so that’s forthcoming, it will, uh, definitely- 

Divya Bheda: 

Over the course of the next few years. Yes. 

Dr. Baker: 

Yes. Yes. 

Divya Bheda: 

Yeah. 

Dr. Baker: 

But overall, just paying attention to them. 

Divya Bheda: 

Right. 

Dr. Baker: 

Because they have some really good practices. We’ve said over and over that HBCUs employ various assessment approaches that consider the various needs of their students. And so if we know that about them, what is it that we need to learn from them? Um, so that we can put that into our own practice. And so there’s such good work, good people that I think that it will only improve, uh, the practices that we have if we’re, we’re intentional in listening to them. 

Divya Bheda: 

Yep. And what I’m hearing you say from this conversation is, is the idea that there are different approaches and a lot of the different approaches or the promising approaches as you call them, I love that terminology and I’m gonna adopt it. Thank you for that. Uh, but the promising approaches have not been documented because, you know, they just there’s been no time. And so I’m so glad to hear that, that that’s the work that you’re focusing on now in the future to document that, so that then we have different tools that it’s not a one size fits all. 

Divya Bheda: 

It helps bring in context. It helps bring in that intersectionality, which I think personally, HBCUs and community colleges would do a much better job of understanding the whole student, because they have such a variety diversity in students, um, to make sure that then they’re able to capture the right inform, right? So the nuance to their instruments or the nuance to their approaches will, will consider all of those facets. And I’m sure we have a lot to learn from all of that. 

Dr. Baker: 

And I’d add, you know, not just us are seeing these institutions as the guiding lights that they are, but also foundations. And so I, we have seen much more of an investment, especially in our HBCUs over this past year, even. And so potentially, by providing some of those financial resources, we will start to not only see them in key projects and initiatives that are happening in these learning spaces, uh, but they’ll be at the forefront- 

Divya Bheda: 

That’s exciting. 

Dr. Baker: 

… uh, validated. So it’s, I’m excited to see what comes up, um, in these, in the years to come, for sure. 

Divya Bheda: 

Are there any other final thoughts? So what I have heard throughout this interview, you started off so beautifully about human-centered, healing-centered, trauma-centered approaches, considering the full humanity of the student taking that forward, not regressing back to what was normal. Um, and, and what’s ironic, and I always like to say this, use this example is that, suddenly with COVID faculty finally understood what like sustained trauma has been with the racial justice issues when folks of color or folks with intersectional identities have been dealing with those kinds of traumas for a long time. And nobody, like it was always dismissed as that student is not interested in their education or they were pathologized, right? It’s so important. 

Divya Bheda: 

So, so keeping that healing-centered approach, keeping that relationship building approach, thinking about your curriculum, thinking about sharing data, collecting data, assessing your students, grading, all of that from an equity lens, from a transparent lens, uh, communicating well about that, telling stories and making the right decisions, which data informed data guided. And you also talked about how, um, rubrics play a role, how formative assessments play a role and how faculty can incorporate all of that. Uh, even as we touched on AI, (laughs) on artificial intelligence and talked about community college work. 

Divya Bheda: 

So just thank you for such a wide ranging conversation, a broad conversation on all of these topics and giving us a few insights. So I really appreciate it, Gianina. Any other final thoughts or advice to share with educators or with assessment professionals? 

Dr. Baker: 

Oh gosh. I’m sure there are many, I think, you know, we could have went so many different ways in this conversation with what we know. Um, the conversation has been fun with you. 

Divya Bheda: 

(laughs). 

Dr. Baker: 

I’ve loved it. It’s healing-centered for me. Like you actually understood what I was saying. So thank you. Um, I, I hope that, you know, at least those that are listening take a piece, one nugget and found it useful. I hope that the conversation was engaging enough that, you know, you felt like, yeah, I understand what you’re talking about because this is just what I do. And I, and I wanna push on my practice a little bit. And so I hope some of the resources that we shared are helpful to you as well. Thank you for, for listening in, and I hope that it was worth your time. 

Divya Bheda: 

Thank you. Thank you, Gianina. Thank you so much for, for spending all of this time, for sharing your wisdom and folks again, learningoutcomesassessment.org. So thank you for keeping us grounded and helping us learn about the latest in assessment and assessment practice from all your national level knowledge and experience and interactions. I so appreciate you being here with us. 

Dr. Baker: 

Excellent. Thank you so much for having me. 

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