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Spring 2014 Assessment Spotlight Champions

Staff Spotlight

Jobi Martinez   Ms. Jobi Martinez

Born and raised in Muleshoe, Texas, Ms. Martinez is the Director of the Cross-Cultural Academic Advancement Center.  She assists Texas Tech in its diversity/inclusive excellence initiatives, and has been at TTU for almost 15 years. Ms. Martinez become involved in assessment when she started to work for Dr. Juan Muñoz, Senior Vice President and Vice Provost.  As the division began to form, data was needed to explain what diversity was and how it impacted the campus.

Jobi uses assessment in multiple ways. Some data is collected just to gauge attendance and if students benefited from the event, other data is collected to see if there was a shift in their beliefs on diversity.  The Center mostly uses the assessment data to further their dialogue on the importance of diversity in the curriculum and the co-curricular. "Jobi Martinez is one of those rare professionals that is equally adept at accomplishing critical tasks, as well as assessing their impact for the division, and university. This inherent commitment to measurable outcomes is imperative to the work of inclusive excellence in higher education. She is most deserving of the current recognition.", commented Dr. Muñoz In addition, the Center has begun to engage in social media. With the help of the College of Media and Communications, the Center now looks at "hits" and the emotions expressed in the social media postings; a very intriguing and unique form of measuring engagement.  Ms. Martinez states, "I am looking forward to doing more of this type of assessment." Congratulations, Jobi!

 

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Micheal Serra

Dr. Michael Serra

Dr. Serra originally hails from Baldwin, New York, which is on the south shore of Long Island. But, he usually just tells people I'm "from Long Island", as most people don't know the names of the numerous very-small towns on Long Island. He has been here at Texas Teach for almost 6 years. Currently an Assistant Professor (Associate in the Fall!) of Cognitive Psychology in the Psychology Department, Dr. Serra researches various aspects of human learning and studying including memory, comprehension, study behaviors, and how students evaluate how well they are learning what they're studying. The latter concept is often referred to as "metacognition," which means "a critical evaluation of thinking." When students study and decide whether they have learned enough to stop studying, or if they decide to continue, or decide to switch study tactics, they are engaging in various forms of metacognition. Dr. Serra teaches a variety of courses including research methods and cognition at the undergraduate level, and seminars on metacogntion and on teaching at the graduate level. Dr. Serra also is the faculty supervisor for the teaching of PSY 1300 (General Psychology), where his largest assessment role comes into play. Every semester,  he conducts an end-of-semester assessment of PSY 1300 students in which he assesses them on a variety of measures relevant to the course and its status as a core course, as well as on other measures that are relevant to the further refinement of the course to increase student learning as well as students' satisfaction with the course.

Dr. Serra become involved in assessment through supervision of  PSY 1300 (General Psycholgy), which is a large-enrollment core course. He was asked to do assessment of that course by the university, but quickly became interested in assessing a variety of other additional outcomes in the course as the result of doing that. "Since arriving at Texas Tech, Dr. Serra has been instrumental in making sure that our department provides the best possible learning experiences for undergraduates who choose to enroll in our General Psychology Course (PSY 1300).  In addition to serving as the faculty supervisor to the many doctoral students who teach sections of this course, he pays close attention to the outcome data, and makes necessary improvements based on this data.  We very much appreciate all Mike does for us!", states Dr. Lee Cohen, Psychology Department Chair. 

Additionally, Dr. Serra  has  done smaller-form assessments in some of his other courses. In general, his approach to assessment has two major goals: to find out what students like or don't like about his courses, and to make sure they are learning what he expects them to be learning from his courses. He doesn't subscribe to a strong "student as consumer" model of education, but he knows that students learn better when they like a course and are invested in it, which does not always have to mean dumbing-down courses to meet student demands. Furthermore, given his interest in the public's perceptions of psychology as a science, for several semesters he also included a measure of this perception in the course assessment of PSY 1300. He found that students' perceptions of psychology as a science were influenced by his choice of textbook and other supplemental materials for the course.  According to Dr. Serra, such a finding has large implications for psychology as a field given that most people (including future tax payers, reporters, politicians, and researchers in other fields) are only ever exposed to "true psychology" (as opposed to the likes of a Dr. Phil or a Dr. Melfi on television) in an introductory psychology course. "As a field, this might be our only opportunity to convince those people who will determine future policy decisions and future research expenditures that psychology research is scientific and that it produces worthwhile knowledge, so the textbook we choose for our courses might have much larger effects than we'd imagine!", states Dr. Serra. Congratulations, Michael!

 

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