Cross-campus collaboration: HRM, Assessment team up to author series of assessment theory, application publications

NAU’s School of Hotel & Restaurant Management (HRM) and NAU’s Office of Curriculum, Learning Design and Academic Assessment (OCLDAA) created an assessment program and subsequent publications and presentations that have received both university and national recognition.

The team included Allen Reich and Galen Collins from HRM, Suzanne Pieper from OCLDAA and Agnes DeFranco from the Hilton College at the University of Houston. The group authored three refereed articles and made three refereed conference presentations on the critical topic of the closed loop assessment of learning outcomes process. John Cauvin, executive in residence at HRM, contributed his vast practical experience on the first conference presentation.

“As an assessment specialist, all parts of the student learning assessment process are interesting to me, but the most satisfying part of the process is when I’m able to work with faculty to design an assessment instrument or tool—like a rubric, a portfolio or a survey—tailored to their courses and students. As a result, they can answer the question, ‘Are our students learning what we want them to learn?’ in a meaningful and manageable way,” Pieper said.

Through the combination of expertise in assessment and the experience in hospitality, the group was able to bring depth and richness to the publications, Pieper said.

“What makes our articles especially valuable to readers, I believe, is the interweaving of assessment theory and practice with real examples from hospitality programs. Most importantly, my colleagues at Northern Arizona University and University of Houston were great to work with.”

The series of articles discussed the challenges to implementing an effective assessment and describes a process that can help programs and faculty fulfill their mission to offer the best education possible.

“Virtually all educators are passionate about teaching. The problem is that if a program does not have an effective assessment of learning outcomes process in place, it is all but impossible to harness and maximize faculty passion,” Reich said. “This process forms the foundation of best practices in higher education and NAU is the leader in these assessments.”

The first article, “Is the road to effective assessment of learning outcomes paved with good intentions: Understanding the roadblocks to improving hospitality education” was published in Journal of Hospitality, Leisure and Sports Education. “A recommended closed-loop assessment of learning outcomes process for hospitality programs: The experience of two programs, Part 1 and Part 2” were published in International Hospitality Review.