News Briefs


David Dirlam is taking his assessment expertise on the road. Virginia Wesleyan’s Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Accreditation is headed to Worcester, Massachusetts Nov. 7 to serve as the keynote speaker at the New England Educational Assessment Network’s (NEEAN) Fall Forum. Dirlam’s address, titled "Tools for Turning Course Design and Learning Data into Educational Action," will share insight into his use of three multidimensional tools. First, the Course Design Survey—developed with VWC faculty guidance—helps programs identify potential instructional innovations. In the 2014-2015 academic year it will be adapted to track progress on the College's innovative Quality Enhancement Plan, which uses different levels of experiential learning across the entire curriculum to prepare students to engage deeply and independently in the intellectual, professional, and civic challenges within their lives and careers. The second tool, also developed alongside VWC faculty, is the Student Learning Assessment Report Template, which helps academic programs track their progress toward continuous improvement. Lastly, Dirlam will discuss the Learning Outcomes Network Rating Forms, developed uniquely for each academic program. Dirlam has written 75 posts about using, analyzing and interpreting these tools as the facilitator for the Methodology Community of Practice of the Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education. He arrived at Virginia Wesleyan in January 2013 and has since implemented the use of developmental interviews to create reliable and valid program assessment tools. He then analyzes and interprets the resulting data for program improvement. He also designs and supports all aspects of the College’s accreditation activities. In addition to assessment, Dirlam’s special areas of interest include cognitive science and applications of mathematical models to research on expertise development. NEEAN’s mission is to promote quality assessment of student learning and development, and thus to enhance the effectiveness of institutions of higher education. The organization’s Fall Forum will address the challenges of effecting change based on assessment results. More