What is so delicious about ambiguity?

Welcome to a new academic year!  For those of you who have been away, it’s great to see you again.  For those of you who are new to Augustana, I look forward to getting to know you and supporting your educational efforts.

As many of you know by now, my primary focus at Augustana is to facilitate the continuous process of improving student learning. This means that, like most of us, I can be found wearing many different hats.  Sometimes you will find me designing and implementing on-campus studies to gather data that we need.  Sometimes you might find me discussing the findings from our data and the implications of those findings.  And other times you might find me collaborating with a wide range of individuals or groups to design policies, programs, or professional development to ensure that our efforts to improve student learning actually bear fruit.

So why am I also writing a weekly column in the Faculty Newsletter?

During the last year, I was struck by the degree to which many of us actually don’t know about the things we do really well.  As a result, it appeared to me that we often missed opportunities to take maximal advantage of these successes.  Sometimes these “successes” were happening only in isolated instances.   Other times these educational strengths were occurring repeatedly but without much connection to other similar and often complimentary successes.  And sometimes these successes were totally coincidental.

With this in mind, I hope this column will help us learn a lot more about ourselves, our students, the relative impact of our educational efforts, and the ways that we might improve in this collective endeavor. Sometimes I’ll share a nugget of data or information that struck me as interesting.  Sometimes I’ll pose a question that I think might help us be more intentional in what we do. Finally, from time to time I will take a specific belief or claim about some aspect of student learning at Augustana College and put it to the test.

I am not promising truth, justice, or beauty.  However, I am promising that I will try to inspire you to think more deeply about our students, our efforts, and our collective investment in this work.  I also hope that these columns will inspire conversations that lead to additional questions and, ideally, to a deeper understanding of the work that we do.

So – what would you like to know?  What ‘myth’ or claim would you like to see me put to the test (be careful what you wish for!)?  And what should I call this column?

Make it a good day,

Mark

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