How to Communicate the Value of Your Faculty Development Center

Consider this hypothetical situation: The vice president of academic affairs has just sent you a cryptic email asking you to define the impact of your faculty development center. Could you do so? What would you say? How would you measure the impact?

Bruce Kelley, PhD, is the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and a professor of music at the University of South Dakota. In his recent Magna Online Seminar, Outcomes-Based Assessment for Teaching & Learning Centers, Kelley explains the ins and outs of applying the principles of outcomes-based assessment to your faculty development center, leading to measurable and understandable results.

The conversation begins, Kelley says, with understanding the difference between outputs and outcomes. Outputs, he notes, “measure direct products, particularly the volume of activities or the number of participants at events.” Outcomes, however, “measure changes in behavior or attitudes of participants.” It is this second option that allows a true measure of how effective the faculty development center really is.

In Oct. 21st seminar, Kelley discusses seven principles of successfully using outcomes-based assessment:

  1. Identify key programmatic objectives
  2. Identify general outcomes for each programmatic objective
  3. Identify ways to collect data relevant to the general outcomes
  4. Set specific outcomes based on the data you have available, and establish the criterion for success
  5. Understand the limitations of your data
  6. Use the data to improve, to help you decide which things you might want to start, and to help you decide which to stop
  7. Use the data to tell your story

Kelley explains these steps with help from academic research, personal experience, and a lively discussion with the real-time audience who attended the original broadcast of the online seminar. This particularly robust discussion allows the listener to draw on the experience of several institutions at once.

Kelley believes that outcomes-based assessment is critical in helping faculty development centers answer three big questions:

  • What can we be excellent at?
  • What drives our resource engine?
  • What are we passionate about?

The answers, of course, will be different for each institution, but the principles behind outcomes-based assessment will help keep your faculty development center on track to serve your faculty while conveying your value to the institution at large.