JMU and the Virginia Assessment Group Co-Host Assessment Drive-In


On Friday, April 19th, 2019 the Virginia Assessment Group hosted a spring drive-in telepresence conference, entitled “Telling our stories: Using assessment data for learning and improvement.” The one-day conference was funded by a 4-VA collaborative research grant, and involved a planning team representing four public universities, a community college, and the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia. The event was a hybrid conference with participants driving to meet with colleagues at one of six locations: George Mason University, James Madison University, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University (Cisco Headquarters), and Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Participants at each location then met virtually with participants from the other locations, via 4-VA telepresence technology. The event addressed the mission of 4-VA by leveraging the expertise of professionals across the nation to address the need for high quality professional development with low travel costs for faculty and assessment professionals. The 168 conference registrants represented 50 organizations: 31 universities, 15 community colleges, and 4 professional organizations. The event also addressed an aim of the Virginia Assessment Group, which is “dedicated to the goals of promoting the continued high quality of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia through assessment practices. Virginia Assessment Group serves as a forum for the expression of ideas about assessment practices, and as a network for communication and collaboration among public and private institutions and state agencies. Virginia Assessment Group also functions to promote the professional development of its members.”


The day-long conference agenda involved input from each of the six locations. The conference began with a welcome from the Virginia Assessment Group president, Ryan Otto (Roanoke College) at the Virginia Tech location, and review of agenda by Kelsey Kirland from Old Dominion University. The morning workshop was presented by James Madison University Assessment and Measurement doctoral students, Andrea Pope and Caroline Prendergast, Psychological Sciences master’s student, Morgan Crewe, and faculty member, Jeanne Horst. The morning workshop, entitled “Can we back up that claim? Making important data collection design decisions” addressed the appropriate inferences that can be drawn from assessment data collection designs. The workshop began with a description of the gold standard, randomized control trial, followed by a “let’s get real” section highlighting the real-world data collection challenges that assessment practitioners face. Participants grappled with how to make appropriate inferences from the data collection designs that are possible given common constraints. Telepresence technology enabled participants to collaborate with one another, across the state. The morning ended with participants from each location providing suggestions for ways of dealing with practical challenges related to data collection. Following lunch, funded by 4-VA, participants engaged in the afternoon workshop, entitled “Evidence-based storytelling,” facilitated by Jodi Fisler (SCHEV), and Gianina Baker (NILOA). Participants viewed a video produced by Jillian Kinzie (NILOA), illustrating examples and rationale for presenting assessment findings that tell the story of student learning.

Participants engaged in an activity, in which they tailored a data report to a particular stakeholder audience. Gianina Baker closed the afternoon, providing reflections and suggestions for effective evidence-based reporting.

Conference materials may be found at:

2nd Year MA student, Morgan Crewe presents at the 4-VA drive-in.


The technologically equipped 4-VA telepresence classrooms allow real-time virtual conferencing with colleagues across 6 different campuses. Pictured here, assessment colleagues from the University of Virginia participate in discussions.


See all photos from the event here:

Photographs courtesy of 4-VA, Kim Fisher


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