OPA Assessment Spotlight
Dr. Marcelo Schmidt
OPA Spotlight Interview
By: Libby Spradlin, Lead Administrator
What is your position and what do you do for Texas Tech?
I currently lead two centers in the College of Education. I am the Director of Assessment, Accreditation, and Data for the College and also serve as the Director of Research and Continuous Improvement for the US PREP National Center (University-School Partnership for the Renewal of Educator Preparation).
How long have you been at Texas Tech?
I have been working at Tech since 2013. These five years have been the richest in terms of academic and professional growth. The university has afforded me the opportunity to work with, and for, an incredibly diverse and brilliant body of faculty, staff, and students.
How did you get involved with assessment?
When I consider that the essential purpose of assessment is to learn and understand, I like to think that I've been involved with assessment most of my professional life. However, I took on a more formal role in assessment as a member of the Office of Planning & Assessment with responsibilities of measuring student learning outcomes through nationally normed (e.g., CAAP, CLA) and locally developed assessments (e.g., Senior Exit Survey, Freshman Survey, and student journals). I am grateful to Dr. Hughes and Dr. Morton for trusting me and supporting me in this role.
How do you use assessment in your job? What are some interesting assessment techniques you have used or are planning to use?
I am a firm believer that the most effective assessment practices and efforts are
initiated by the people who are doing the work (i.e., faculty). As such, I consider
our assessment office to be a support and resource center, rather than the enforcer
of assessment activities.
The College of Education has done a good job at placing assessment in the hands of faculty. The College has three chairs, each with very different, yet purposeful approaches to assessment. Dr. Hamman, chair of the Teacher Education Department (TED) relies heavily on dashboards to inform programmatic decisions. TED has over 80 dashboards that span from enrollment data to measures of teacher candidate's culturally responsive self-efficacy to teach. These dashboards are shared during faculty meetings and areas for improvement are identified and strengths are reinforced. Dr. Burley, chair of the Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership (EP&L) encourages faculty to identify the important and pressing questions relevant to each program and to develop SMART goals for improvement. And Dr. Coward, interim chair of Curriculum & Instruction has organized assessment committees, who in turn, have identified faculty members to serve as assessment liaisons for the department.
The responsibility of our assessment office is to support and provide the necessary resources so that each of these varied approaches to assessment may be accomplished successfully. On this topic, I need to acknowledge Mr. Fazil Mohammed (Software developer) and Mr. Bhargav Shingirkonda (Data engineer), invaluable members of our assessment team, whom I credit with the technical aspects of enhancing and streamlining data use practices within the College.
Is there anything else you would like to share about assessment?
The practice of assessment in higher education has been a highly debated topic over the past years. Numerous arguments have been made for and against the usefulness of assessment. My personal view is that a practice that encourages critical thought around issues such as equity and access to education, whether students are exiting college with marketable skills, or if they are learning to expand their creative potential, are well worth the time and effort.
What is your hometown or where do you tell people you are from?
I'm originally from Argentina. I have very shallow roots and consider that my hometown is wherever I am. I truly love Lubbock and the Texas Tech University community.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I like to work in the garden with my wife, Dafne. We also get plenty of help from our two dogs and four cats.
What is something you have not done but would like to do?
Walk the Appalachian Trail.