December 14, 2015

Jurkowski, Balkansky named assessment fellows

Two faculty members will serve as fellows in a university program designed to improve student achievement. 

Elaine Jurkowski, professor with the School of Social Work, and Andrew Balkansky, professor with the Department of Anthropology, will serve in the Assessment Fellows Program next semester. This program, administered through the Office of the Associate Provost for Academic Programs and the Office of Assessment and Program Review, seeks to provide academic and co-curricular assessment experience and skill development for faculty and administrative/professional (A/P) staff members who have an interest in student learning.  

Jim Allen, associate provost for academic programs, said the program has been very successful thus far. The fall 2015 semester assessment fellows, Deborah Barnett, coordinator of non-traditional student services, and Heather Brake, coordinator of student involvement, were the first A/P staff appointed. 

“The commitment of these great non-academic colleagues to student learning is just beyond belief,” Allen said. 

Jurkowski serves on the Campus-Wide Assessment Committee, representing the College of Education and Human Services, and helps coordinate assessment activities in her college. She has been active with the assessment process over the past decade. She has developed her unit’s assessment plan, and overseen and carried out her own unit assessment over the course of her role as Graduate Program director. 

Jurkowski's scope of work during her fellowship will include working on college-wide assessment reports through Sharepoint. In addition, she will promote Conversations About Student Learning and Engagement (CAStLE) that are dedicated to promoting best practices in assessment for College-Wide Assessment teams, and include a "Frequently Asked Questions" conversation session. Another goal will be to complete a peer-reviewed publication related to campus assessment strategies.  

Balkansky has worked at SIU for the past 12 years, and is the coordinator for undergraduate assessment in his department, as well as a member of the College of Liberal Arts’ College-Wide Assessment Team. He also directs the University Studies Program and will devise a new assessment protocol for that program in the spring semester. His research and teaching interests center on the prehistoric archaeology of Mexico, and the evolution of urban societies.  

Allen said he is also pleased that Nolan Wright, assistant professor with the School of Law Library, has decided to extend his fellowship through the spring 2016 semester. Wright serves on the School of Law’s Assessment Committee, most recently as co-chair, and as its representative on the Campus-Wide Assessment Committee. For the past three years, Wright has also been part of a national task force charged with identifying the research skills and knowledge needed in legal practice. He contributed to two national surveys, serving as statistician and co-authoring two reports on the task force’s findings. A specialist on legal research education, Wright is working on the new outcomes-based accreditation standards adopted by the American Bar Association (ABA) Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. 

 “I’m delighted to be collaborating with these two new Assessment Fellows and one continuing Assessment Fellow,” Allen stated. “It’s going to be another busy semester of renewed work on student learning.”