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Assessment Champions

Emporia State University values assessment and recognizes that assessment activities are driven by Assessment Champions.  Annually, The Office of Institutional Effectiveness recognizes the outstanding assessment efforts of ESU faculty.  Nominations are made by the campus community and the Student Learning Assessment Council votes for the annual award winners.  

2018 Champions

MICHAEL DENNIS, PhD - Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Theatre in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Michael Dennis

Since 2008, Dr. Dennis has served in many lead roles in assessing student learning for the department. He has designed scales to measure student learning from multiple courses related to our department goal "Develop research-based projects and communicate results orally and in writing.” He has assessed student artifacts from multiple courses including SP 312, Theories of Communication where students demonstrated in writing that they are capable of describing and summarizing communication theories and their concepts, as well as of applying them to their own pragmatic realities. As students were required to read and discuss many articles portraying relevant primary research, he implemented a three week unit on Research Methods early in the semester to prepare them to understand and critique the articles. He sought to assess the extent to which this module was effective in addressing the department's Goal 2a. These assessment findings led to re-offering SP 580, Analysis of Communication Studies (Capstone course in research methods) which was reinstated as a core requirement for Communication Majors. Since 2013, Dr. Dennis has continuously engaged in assessment practices that have informed curriculum changes and improvement in student learning in capstone courses. In addition, he has also assessed student learning performances in general education courses SP101-Public Speaking, while utilizing the Association of American Colleges and Universities' Oral Communication Value Rubric aligned with KBOR core outcomes. Conclusively, the assessment efforts of Dr. Dennis have improved the department’s curriculum and the student learning experience, he is worthy of being named an Assessment Champion!

KATHERINE 'KAT' O'MEARA, PhD - Assistant Professor/Director of Composition, Department of English, Modern Languages & Journalism in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Kat O Pic

Dr. O’Meara has excelled in implementing assessment best practices for the Composition program. Since her hiring in the fall of 2017, she has redefined the rubrics used in assessing student success in written communication and has aligned these rubrics with the American Association of College and University’s Value Rubrics for Written Communication and Critical Thinking. She has led the Composition Committee’s work in directing program improvement using assessment data from multiple years of assessment practices. These practices include multiple reviewer scoring of individual student artifacts and portfolio analyses. Dr. O’Meara also served as a member of the AY2017 General Education Assessment Team. She has made immediate contributions to the university-wide assessment of our general education program. Her research is directed toward understanding how courses in other disciplines contribute to instruction in writing and mastery of writing skills and is informing her efforts to impact writing within the disciplines and across the curriculum at ESU. As Composition program director, she is the primary person coordinating the assessment of Composition I and II courses.

PHIL KELLY, PhD - Professor and JOHN BARNETT, PhD Associate Professor Department of Social Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Phil Kelly

JOHN BARNETT, PhD - Associate Professor Department of Social Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

John Barnett

Just a few years ago, political science assessment was still using an outdated multiple-choice test not well-aligned with the program's learning objectives. Today, the assessment of the program has both increased and improved immensely. Dr. Barnett has worked closely with Dr. Kelly and chair Dr. Michael Smith to completely redesign assessment practices for the Political Science program. Starting in 2016, Dr's. Barnett and Kelly adopted a new rubric aligned with learning outcomes and learning objectives from the revised curriculum map. They have integrated capstone experiences into two upper-division political science courses (PO 500 and PO 501). Most remarkably, in 2017, Dr's. Kelly and Barnett each separately evaluated each student's political science capstone paper, thus producing a dataset for evaluation in which inter-rater reliability was measured. In addition, Dr's. Barnett and Kelly contributed to the adoption of policies (multiple drafts and standardized language) to addresses weaknesses in student writing and composition identified by assessments. These efforts resulted in AY2017 student learning outcomes for writing and composition skills showing remarkable gains as compared to AY2016 results.

CHRISTOPHER STONE, PhD - Assistant Professor and Associate Chair - School of Business

Chris Stone

Dr. Stone has served as the Chair for the Council on General Education during AY2017-2018. His leadership has included collaborating with the Director of General Education and General Education faculty in perpetuating university-wide assessment efforts for the General Education Program. In October 2018, he attended the Higher Learning Commission’s General Education Assessment Workshop which focused exclusively on assisting ESU as it navigates change strategies to improve the overall assessment practices of the general education program. His leadership in general education assessment will include input in designing and implementing future assessment plans. Dr. Stone is also integrally involved in assessment for the School of Business in his role as Associate Chair as he collaborates with his colleagues in ensuring that the School of Business remains accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International).

GARY WYATT, PhD - Associate Provost, Dean of the Honors College, and Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Crime & Delinquency Studies in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Gary Wyatt

Dr. Wyatt, has provided leadership in ensuring that the university has planned and implemented assessment strategies aimed toward quality student learning experiences. Formerly as the Director of General Education, Dr. Wyatt first led the charge for implementing an assessment plan for the General Education Program. These efforts served the institution well, as it embraced the changing climate of assessment and accountability. As the first Dean of the Honors College, he led groundbreaking efforts to embed assessment practices into every operational component of the Honors program including the assessment of student learning outcomes in Honors courses. He also leads assessment efforts for faculty driven leadership and student engagement in learning the Kansas Leadership Center’s principles and competencies. Dr. Wyatt’s attention to detail and inclusive assessment efforts have led to our students’ engaging in unique high-impact learning experiences dedicated to learning civic leadership competencies in perpetuation of the university’s mission of preparing students for lifelong learning, rewarding careers, and adaptive leadership, and for its’ vision of changing lives for the common good!

2017 Champions

KINDRA WELLS, MS - Instructor, Mathematics & Economics in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


Ms. Kindra Wells has been serving as the ESU Mathematics General Education Coordinator since 2014, and annually approximately 700 students complete the math courses included in her assessments. Using an AAC&U value rubric to measure student learning across all course sections, the data collected informs adaptations to both the curriculum and pedagogy strategies. Working with Dr. Hollenbeck, she also geared the college algebra contents toward real-life applications. Labs and other instructional activities have been created and implemented to address this effort. Students are encouraged to explore and compare complex ideas for multiple disciplines, and also apply knowledge from the perspective of multiple disciplines, such as Sciences, Economics, Finance, Health, Education, and Sociology. Her assessment efforts have been making extraordinary contributions in terms of using the assessment data to improve student learning. Because of the proactive and meaningful assessments Ms. Wells has been doing, our department noticed the student learning outcomes have been steadily increasing over the last 2 years. There is no doubt that the success of these courses has a big impact on students’ educational experience at ESU and is a key part in student retention.

ANNA CATTERSON, PhD - Coordinator of Education Technology, Information Technology


Dr. Anna Catterson has done a remarkable job creating the Online Readiness Course for Emporia State University instructors. While balancing her many duties in the Learning Technologies Department, she leads the ORC by assessing the needs of ESU instructors. She adapted this course curriculum to reflect the mission and values at Emporia State University. The Online Readiness Course provides best practices for online teaching in order for ESU instructors to provide quality lessons in an online setting. Developing a course like the ORC takes time and commitment and with each module, Dr. Catterson provides feedback and continues to develop the ORC based on instructor’s feedback and submitted projects. She doesn’t develop based on theory alone but on the assessment of the course’s successes and failures. She generously provides assistance with ESU instructors, faculty, and staff. She is always eager to help instructors with identifying areas that could use improvement and has proven many times how to engage the online learner. With her expertise in instructional design, she has identified the roles instructors need to play in order to engage students in discussion boards and has used her own experiences as examples. She has assessed that students are more engaged if the instructor is engaged and she is extremely dedicated to developing an engaging learning environment at ESU.

AMANDA MIRACLE, PhD - Associate Professor in Social Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


Dr. Amanda Miracle has assumed the primary assessment responsibility for the History M.A. degree program for several years now. The History M.A. capstone assessments are held as a part of a Saturday session course that rotates from professor to professor each year. This program uses a department-wide rubric developed by the faculty to measure the efficacy of student learning. In addition, she has kept the assessment consistent and has also ensured that the MAT program is assessed even though it has been discontinued as we are now only graduating students that were grandfathered into the program earlier. Dr. Miracle has collaborated with department faculty in promoting assessment and filling in the gaps for ensuring the effectiveness of the curriculum as faculty departures have occurred.

MAIRE JOHNSON, PhD - Assistant Professor in Social Sciences, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


Dr. Maire Johnson assumed responsibility for assessment of the undergraduate History program upon the departure of a faculty member. Since then, she has developed a plan for a simpler, more streamlined, shared rubric in the history program based on her previous experiences teaching at Elizabethtown College. However, she has also collaborated with Dr. Darla Mallein in Social Sciences Education to ensure that the new rubric will be implemented when the new state standards for K-12 history teachers are released. She has also been one of the 1st historians to submit her own general education assessment on Campus Labs, and has used the data from assessment to change her approach to teaching HI 101, incorporating more use of oral, collaborative projects in a way that is very popular with students. Finally, Dr. Johnson has attended assessment training this year to prepare for her new role.

TRACY FREEZE, DM - Associate Professor of Music in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Tracy Freeze

Dr. Tracy Freeze designed the jury rubrics for the Department of Music. Juries are our applied playing exams that all of our 100 plus undergraduate and graduate music students complete at the end of every semester during finals week. He provides the rubrics to all of our wind and percussion faculty, and then we send the completed rubrics back to him, and he tabulates the data. His technological knowledge and expertise have been invaluable, and he has donated hundreds of hours to help our students and the music department. The information from the rubrics has been very valuable as our group of faculty can evaluate grading mechanisms, evaluate student performance and skill levels, and identify areas for learning improvement strategies. Use of these rubrics has been very beneficial for accumulating data to measure student performance and track student learning over time, thus being used to improve student learning effectiveness.

2016 Champions

DIPAK GHOSH, PhD – Professor of Economics in the School of Business


Dr. Dipak Ghosh is the assessment point person for the School of Business. He is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and preparing annual assessment reports for AACSB accreditation and the Higher Learning Commission. He serves as the chair of the Student Learning Committee, provides assessment workshops for the faculty, and serves as a faculty assessment consultant. Dr. Ghosh takes great effort to ensure that the assessment process is unobtrusive to faculty and beneficial to students.  On example of his efforts has resulted in significant improvement of measured student knowledge in international business courses.  His craft at working with people results in effective faculty involvement in assessment, meanwhile he has streamlined assessment practices resulting in a comprehensive culture of assessment.  Finally, Dr. Ghosh serves as a model for what assessment should be, a constant process.  Assessment is not a part-time or side job for Dr. Ghosh and his dedication to the assessment cause garners the respect of his colleagues.  In summary, he champions assessment efforts within the School of Business on a daily basis. The value of Dr. Ghosh's contributions toward assessment are impossible to quantify.  His work directly supports the maintenance of our AACSB accreditation, the standards set by HLC, faculty participation in assessment, and most importantly, improving student learning.  As such, he is deserving of being recognized as an Assessment Champion.

MELISSA REED, PhD – Associate Professor Elementary Education, Early Childhood, and Special Education 


Dr. Melissa Reed has multiple years of overseeing undergraduate research assessment protocols through the ESU Summer Undergraduate Research Program (ESURP). Her student assessment strategies and results of student success have been published and presented nationally.  Her works have also been cited many times in the state of Kansas and nationally.  She utilizes the Canvas learning management system as a digital assessment tool for her classroom and student research projects.  Her model has been adopted by her program and faculty within the program as excellent assessment tools to help them operate effective assessment protocols in their own classrooms.  Dr. Reed mentors junior faculty in the Elementary Education/Early Childhood Unified/Special Education on ways to be successful with assessment best practices.  Her assessment efforts and contributions to the department are such valuable assets and definitely worthy of assessment champion recognition. 

MALLORY KOCI, MS – Instructor Interdisciplinary Studies and Ethnic & Gender Studies the College of LA&S


Ms. Mallory Koci has been proactive in implementing assessment in her courses (both general education and upper division) since she has been teaching at ESU. She was an early adopter leading curriculum mapping and assessment practices in general education courses and is committed to her students and to their successful learning.  She is comprehensive in her assessment practices and frequently adapts her courses to ensure that student learning outcomes are being met.  She consistently closes the loop by implementing changes, assessing the effectiveness of the changes, then continuously using this cycle to improve student learning.  Her participation in Kansas Leadership Center activities as an early adopter and leader of the initial class of attendees “Hornet Trailblazers” utilizes her assessment skills working with other faculty and staff to evaluate how leadership is embedded in the courses taught.  She uses the principles of the four competencies promoted by KLC both to guide her own behavior in the classroom and to present material to her students. The competencies, especially "diagnose situation" and "intervene skillfully" are central to assessment and making course adaptations.  Ms. Koci is an inspiration to others in the practical application of assessment to improve student learning outcomes.  She approaches assessment with a positive attitude and truly sees the value of assessing what we do and using assessment to make changes and improvements.  She truly is an assessment champion!

MATTHEW HOWE, PhD – Associate Professor Health, Physical Education, and Recreation in The Teachers College


Dr. Matt Howe is responsible for the Athletic Training program at Emporia State University. The program is fully accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) and the requirements for this program are extensive.  Dr. Howe coordinates and implements accreditation processes including assessment design, data collection, data review, reporting of findings, and aligns changes to the program based on the assessment information.  He does a fabulous job and deserves to be commended for all his hard work and dedication to ensuring that assessments and reports are completed, meanwhile the program continuously improves student learning experiences and maintains CAATE program accreditation.

ANDREW SMITH, PhD – Associate Professor in the School of Library and Information Management


Over the past five years, Dr. Andrew Smith has led the curriculum review process in SLIM resulting in the comprehensive update of the MLS curriculum. This process included alignment of the SLIM Program Outcomes and Professional Values with ALA Core Competences of Librarianship.  Each course has a complete set of measurable student learning outcomes mapped appropriately to SLIM Program Outcomes, Professional Values, ALA Core Competences and professional standards (e.g. KSDE standards for School Library Media Specialists, YALSA standards for librarians serving youth).  In its most recent review report the Higher Learning Commission commended the SLIM program for its approach for documenting student learning outcomes in course syllabi.  Additionally, data driven changes to the curriculum and a course addition have been made for the School Library Media Licensure.  Dr. Smith implemented an in-depth approach to utilizing the IDEA Student Ratings of Instruction by linking assessment feedback to learning outcomes to improve instruction.  He also pioneered the IDEA additional questions feature to elicit student feedback on the Course Learning Outcomes, which gives another indirect measure of student learning.  Dr. Smith has served as SLIM’s representative on the Student Learning Assessment Council since its inception in 2014.

2015 Champions

DIANE NUTBROWN, PhD - Assistant Professor of Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


Dr. Diane Nutbrown's assessment efforts include identifying reasons for high DFW rates in Chemistry I & II courses with analysis resulting in changes to requirements for enrollment in these foundational chemistry courses. She has lead efforts to adopt ACS standardized exams to assess our students' in comparison to national results and also worked to adopt on-line course enhancements (ALEKS module) that are now used for all sections of Chemistry I & II.  Data analysis of the student performance on ACS exams has been and will continue to be informative for efforts to improve student learning, and reduce the number of students having unsatisfactory experiences in our Chemistry I & II sequence of courses.

DARLA MALLEIN, PhD - Associate Professor of Social Sciences Secondary Education in The Teachers College


Dr.Darla Mallein's assessment efforts include compiling required KSDE and CAEP reports for the Teachers College. In addition, every semester includes reviews of the Teacher Work Samples (TWS) submitted by her student teachers.  In her methods course "mini-teach" presentations are recorded digitally to provide feedback which also involves students writing self-reflective essays for improving teaching.  She has implemented changes in these exercises based on the feedback she has received from the students, and as a result has seen increases in scores for her student teachers.  Student teacher feedback from cooperating teachers is also used to inform her methods course.  Exit surveys with personal interviews also serve to inform student learning, as she uses data from interviews to improve student advising and has made changes to both curriculum and pedagogies in her courses based on continuous assessment practices.  Her contributions to social sciences annual reports and the continuous improvements she makes based on her assessment findings make her a leader in using assessment change strategies. 

KENNETH THOMPSON, PhD - Professor of Physical Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Thompson1Dr. Ken Thompson's nomination by a student was inspiring and is presented as written, “Dr. Thompson is a genuine person and truly dedicated professor! He is willing to help any student learn more effectively, personally answering individual questions or concerns as they arise.  His use of assessment is geared toward capturing student learning, separating testing into a scheduled format.  Assessments occur approximately every three weeks, with each assessment solely focused on one aspect of science.  This helps to improve student learning as we can each delve deeply into one core concept before moving on to another area of instruction.  Dr. Thompson also assesses student learning through monitoring group work projects, experiments, and assignments given to the class.  It has been over a year since I have taken Dr. Thompson's course, and as a student intending to go into the education field myself, I often reference Dr. Thompson's teaching style as a basis for my own future classroom.  I appreciated his approach to valuing all student learning, and being willing to help us each achieve our highest understanding possible, adapting curriculum and doing his best to meet our individual learning styles and personalities.” 

TIM BURNETT, PhD - Associate Professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


Dr. Tim Burnett's assessment activities include the Department of Biology, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and the university. He has served as the Biological Sciences Assessment Coordinator for the past eight years, and has done outstanding work on assessing students' learning outcomes and identifying areas for improvement.  He utilizes a number of assessment tools to evaluate the learning effectiveness and the rigor of programs.  He created an assessment course GB 480 Senior Experience in Biology and a component of the course includes a Major Field test where assessment indicator scores are compared with average national comparable institutions.  He analyzes the data and then conducts a Faculty survey to assess the "importance" and the "degree of coverage" of the 30 topics of the Major Field Test, aiming to coordinating the teaching coverage of essential and important material.  In an effort to address critical thinking learning outcomes, an assessment called the Test of Scientific Literacy (TOSL) was added.  Data analysis is now underway for the data gathered over the past four semesters.  In addition, he has also conducted the knowledge inventory survey in his upper level cell biology courses to allow students to self-report content and topic coverage.  In response to this assessment, a survey of the biology faculty who teach "core" classes was conducted to ascertain the degree of coverage of these topics discovered in the student survey.  As the Assessment Coordinator of the Department of Biological Sciences, his contribution to assessment at both department and institutional levels is extraordinary.

ROB CATLETT, MS - Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Economics in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


Mr. Rob Catlett's assessment activities span many years and he has been actively involved in assessment at many levels across the institution. He has presented at national conferences about his linkage study between our students' scores on ACT exams given in high school and their results on the CAAP tests which they take close to their ESU graduation date. This provides an excellent verification of the "value added" from their education at ESU.  He has been an innovator in a wide variety of curricular areas.  His most recent new course is a Globalization course in Economics.  He also has been a leader in a variety of ESU's projects connected to the American Democracy Project.  ESU has been a national winner in the America's Future Project competition.  He does extensive assessment of the economics program and has assisted in the assessment of the mathematics undergraduate and graduate programs.  He has maintained close contact with economics graduates over the course of many years.  This assessment not only shows the success of our ESU graduates in economics, it also provides a wealth of contacts and connections for current students.  He frequently invites alumni back to ESU to make guest presentations in his courses.  He has been heavily involved in assessment at a variety of levels and has served on numerous assessment committees.  

2014 Champions

DEBORAH GERISH, PhD - Associate Professor of History in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


Dr. Deb Gerish is doing outstanding work in the implementation of course embedded assessments for “Teaching Writing & Critical Thinking with Targeted Assignments” which measure student learning in HI101. Deb’s work spans multiple years and includes rubric analyses, scaffolding assignments, and tracking students’ feedback on learning effectiveness.  This cyclical assessment is worthy of emulation and confirms her commitments to successful student learning.

CYNTHIA KANE, MS - Professor in the University Libraries and Archives


Ms. Cynthia Kane recently presented research findings at the Higher Learning Commission 2014 Annual Conference on “Academic Libraries, Information Literacy Assessment, and Higher Education Accreditation.” This work represents the culmination of her fall 2013 sabbatical research on the assessment of Information Literacy.  She continues her assessment of students’ Information Literacy skills in UL100 using Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education as supported by the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL).   

KENNA REEVES, MS - Instructor of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


Ms. Kenna Reeves has done great work in the assessment of verbal communication skills in her SP307 course by embedding a rubric analysis of two separate speeches for each term the course is taught. She has three years of data and has brought assessment efforts full-circle with analysis of strengths and weaknesses and implementation of changes based on assessment findings.  Verbal communication is a highly regarded transferrable skill and Kenna’s assessment efforts support continuous improvements in student learning.  Her assessment work along with that of Dr. Miller, Dr. Blankenship, and Dr. Gerish have been shared in the Kansas Board of Regents report on Student Learning Assessments and meeting the needs of the KBOR Foresight 2020 Strategic Plan.

CHRIS BLANKENSHIP, PhD - Assistant Professor and Director of Composition in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Dr. Chris Blankenship as Director of Composition has been coordinating and implementing portfolio analysis by English Faculty and Graduate Teaching Assistants in assessing students’ writing skill competencies for both EG101 and EG102 cohorts. This work is highly recognized among assessment best practices and informs the continuous improvement of students’ written communication at ESU.  These assessment practices have been influential in improving overall student learning of written communication skills and continues to be a key component of the general education program assessment plan.  

BRIAN MILLER, PhD - Associate Professor of History in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Dr. Brian Miller utilizes course embedded assessments in his HI111 course to measure student learning in forming a question, thinking critically, and using evidence to prove an argument. He uses a rubric to score student mastery of these outcomes with the goal of improved student performance over the duration of the course.  His data supports continuous student improvements in these skill sets as students navigate the course curriculum.  Brian’s work is reported as a component of critical thinking for Kansas Board of Regents Student Learning Assessments and is a valuable part of the general education program assessment plan.