UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

How we’ll track progress on ‘Learning’ at UND

UND will monitor key elements such as ‘experiential learning,’ ‘individualized advising’ and ‘fostering a global perspective’

The office of University Analytics & Planning “serves as a resource by providing accurate, consistent, useful, timely, user-friendly and official data that can be used to assess the goals and objectives of the University of North Dakota,” as the office’s web page reports. Click on the image to visit the site.

By Ryan Zerr

As UND LEADS implementation work begins in earnest, groundwork is being laid to help make sure we understand the progress we’re making as the plan unfolds. With this month’s focus on the Learning core value, efforts to capture information related to the core value’s subpoints are underway.

This is no small task. Learning is multifaceted and complex, with nuances that no single number can adequately measure or track. And in the same way that UND LEADS is meant to be a living plan, subject to changes and updates with evolving times, the ways we measure Learning (and the other core values) will need to adapt to insights we gain along the way.

But some initial ideas are emerging. Members of the UND LEADS Implementation Team are taking a careful and deliberative approach, assessing Learning metric possibilities along various dimensions – such as alignment with the core value, quality of the data, and interpretability.

No metrics are perfect. Tradeoffs between some of these dimensions will be inevitable. But through this process, options that align well with subpoints within the Learning core value are emerging.

For instance, the Learning core value calls for us to “cultivate experiential learning opportunities.” It seems natural that we should therefore seek to gauge our progress in doing so. Student involvement in such experiences and the types of learning that occur might represent aspects to measuring progress in this area.

The Learning core value also includes giving attention to “expanding individualized advising and mentoring.” Obtaining and monitoring information about how students are interacting with advisors will be key to setting and meeting goals.

And as a final example, the Learning core value calls us to “foster a global perspective.” Through information related to participation in experiences that expand students’ horizons, we can set goals that relate to these transformational experiences.

Because UND LEADS does not articulate specific measurements for gauging progress or improvement, part of our work will simply be determining where we are. And with the knowledge of where we are, we can develop a sense of where we want to be and how we can get there.

Of course, how we get there is through the work being done across campus – work described in this issue of UND Today and elsewhere. And that work is the result of our collective effort and hard work.

As the months ahead unfold, we hope to provide a yet fuller picture of the ways we can tell those stories, including through metrics associated with the plan.

>> QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS about the UND LEADS Strategic Plan? Your thoughts are welcome! Please contact Angie Carpenter, UND’s director of Special Student Populations, and/or Ryan Zerr, associate vice president for Strategy & Implementation, the co-chairs of the UND LEADS Implementation Committee.

You also may offer your thoughts by visiting the UND LEADS Strategic Plan home page and clicking on the “Provide your feedback” link that you’ll find there.

Thank you for your support of the UND LEADS Strategic Plan!

Ryan Zerr

About the author:

Ryan Zerr, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics, is associate vice president for Strategy & Implementation at UND.