Provost’s Office to Hold Second Assessment Conference Jan. 31

Issue Date: 
January 20, 2014

The University of Pittsburgh’s Office of the Provost will hold its second annual Assessment Conference on Jan. 31, focusing on how Pitt can best measure how it educates students. The keynote speaker will be Nobel Laureate Carl E. Wieman, who holds a joint appointment as a professor in Stanford University’s Department of Physics and Graduate School of Education.

In his lecture, “What Learning Matters and How Can It Be Measured?” Wieman will address the idea of using an expertise perspective—determining what makes someone an expert in a given discipline—as a way to identify important educational goals and to help students reach them. In the afternoon, three breakout sessions will examine aspects of undergraduate and graduate program assessment.

The conference will begin at 8:30 a.m. in Pitt’s University Club, Ballroom A, with breakfast and a welcome from Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson followed by Wieman’s keynote talk. From 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., there will be three simultaneous breakout presentations followed by a wrap-up discussion over lunch. The schedule follows.

• Conference Room A: Larry Shuman, Pitt Distinguished Service Professor and senior associate dean for academic affairs, Swanson School of Engineering, will discuss undergraduate program assessment within the Swanson School; Juan Manfredi, Pitt vice provost for undergraduate studies, will moderate;

• Conference Room B: Wes Jamison, vice president for academic affairs at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, will discuss the assessment of undergraduate programs at the Greensburg campus; Kathleen Kelly, vice chair, Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, will moderate; and

• Gold Room: Lara Putnam, Pitt professor of history, will address the assessment of the graduate history program at Pitt; Alberta Sbragia, vice provost for graduate studies, will moderate.

• Lunch and a recap of the program assessments will occur from 12:30 until 2:00 p.m. in the University Club’s Ballroom A. Also discussed will be the resources and annual timeline for assessment at Pitt. Presenters will be Joe Horne, director for instructional services, Pitt’s Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education, as well as Manfredi and Sbragia.

Members of the Pitt community may register at by Jan. 24.

Wieman received the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics for achieving a Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms, and for his early fundamental studies of the properties of these condensates. Since then, he has focused on experimental approaches to improving student learning at the undergraduate level. He has won numerous prizes in this field, including the American Association of Physics Teachers Oersted Medal in 2007 and the Presidential Citation for Lifetime Achievement from the National Science Teachers Association in 2012.