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Academic Innovation & Effectiveness

Academic Innovation & Effectiveness
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The Senior Assignment (SRA) is the hallmark of a baccalaureate education at SIUE. The SRA serves as a demonstrable connection between the student's major area of study and the full breadth of general education skills and competencies. Each department or program has ownership over their Senior Assignments, thus the faculty have been given the autonomy to construct the SRA to assess the unique capabilities of their graduates and also to assess overall program effectiveness and the degree of interdisciplinary competence among graduates. While involved in the Senior Assignment, students are actively engaged in the development, rather than the consumption, of knowledge. The SRA optimizes assessment that recognizes the importance of open-ended, holistic, problem based assessment that requires critical thinking. After all, "institutional assessment efforts should not be concerned about valuing what can be measured but, instead, about measuring that which is valued." (Banta, Lund, Black, & Oblander, 1996)

Within broad limits, the structure of each Senior Assignment is owned by the individual department, which announces the goals for its students, sets the standards and expectations, and then openly presents and assesses the resulting SRAs. The "broad limits" across all departments are these: (a) each student must demonstrate a grasp of general education as well as of the major discipline itself, (b) the assessment must be "high stakes" to assure motivation, with a grade or even graduation itself hanging in the balance, and (c) the departmental faculty as a whole must view and assess the results.

For the sixth consecutive year, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report for having an outstanding senior capstone experience. In the publication, "America's Best Colleges 2009," SIUE joined the ranks of 17 other institutions of higher learning, including Yale, Princeton, Harvard and MIT, in the "Programs to Look for: Senior Capstone" category. The Senior Assignment was also recognized as an "exemplary practice" for assessment of learning outcomes in "Communicating Commitment to Liberal Education: A Self-Study Guide for Institutions," published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities in 2006.

Funding is available from the Office of Academic Innovation and Effectiveness to support continuous refinement and improvement in the Senior Assignment. Proposals for Senior Assignment funding are due in the spring for the funding in the following fiscal year. The Committee on Assessment evaluates proposals and awards funding to departments and programs.

The Senior Assignment (SRA) Travel Fund provides funding to support student travel for presentations at professional conferences related to dissemination of SRA research, SRA performances, and competition of SRA project in national competitions. This funding is available to all SIUE undergraduate students in good academic standing who are currently enrolled, making satisfactory progress toward their degrees, and completing Senior Assignment. Click here for a description of the SRA Travel Fund and associated guidelines. The SRA Travel Fund Application must be completed and submitted to Dr. Erin Behnen (Box 1300).

The Office of Academic Innovation and Effectiveness also sponsors the Undergraduate Scholars Showcase each April. The next event will be from 2 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 26, 2018, in the Morris University Center. Each department or program is asked to nominate two Senior Assignment projects for this event. Applications are due from the departments by April 1st at noon. For more information, visit the Undergraduate Scholars Showcase web page: Undergraduate Scholars Showcase.

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