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Democracy & Assessment Series— Your Voice Matters! Episode 1 Setting the Stage

AEFIS Academy Community Event


Dr. Gianina Baker

Acting Director

National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Dr. David Dees

Dean and Chief Administrative Officer

Kent State University at East Liverpool

Mr. Andre Foisy

President of AALHE & Executive Director of Institutional Outcomes Assessment

Excelsior College

Dr. Natasha Jankowski

Higher Education & Assessment Consultant


February 24, 2021 @ 2:00 PM 3:00 PM EST

Image Sources: Scantron.com & Pacific Standard


Institutions of higher education have long espoused that a primary purpose or role of education is in service to the public good through supporting the development of students ready to participate in democracy and civic life. Alumni metrics on voting rates and civic engagement serve as indicators to institutional leadership on the success of fostering democratic involvement, but democracy involves mastery of various learning outcomes such as debate, critical thinking, analysis, problem identification, and community building to name a few. Further, the role of higher education in educating students for democracy is evolving over time, recalibrating based on societal needs. 

The United States has faced fundamental threats to democracy for several years, the most recent of which involved an attack on the nation’s capital that added stress to an already long road to healing. Higher education leaders offered statements to reaffirm core beliefs and call for serious reflection on societal structures and organizations that have enabled or supported the deterioration of the foundation of democracy in the U.S.

As your community of practice, AEFIS Academy is launching a four-part series designed to explore and unpack the relationship between Democracy and Assessment. Throughout this series, a variety of thought leaders will come together in conversation around what the current relationship between democracy and assessment entails, what the relationship should or could be, and what the role of assessment might be moving forward to support a productive democracy.

As the series unfolds, we will invite all participants to join a community group to continue discussions on how we might, as a field, advance assessment for democracy. Within the community, we will develop strategies and processes for embedding assignments and other experiences that engage students in democracy into courses and co-curricular activities. Please join us because Your Voice Matters!

Key Takeaways for Episode 1

It is our goal to provide the audience with the following intended key takeaways:

1. Discuss the vision, context, and call to action of this series

2. Explore the relationship between assessment and democracy

3. Engage in a community dialogue on the history of assessment as it relates to social and educational stratification, and oppression

4. Discuss what role, if any, current and historical assessment processes and practices may have played in political discourse on educational elitism and classism

Our Discussion Leaders

We are honored to have these discussion leaders leading this panel:

Dr. Gianina Baker, Acting Director, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Gianina Baker, Acting Director, provides leadership and directs research specific to the assessment of student learning at colleges and universities, primarily under the Lumina Foundation grants, at NILOA. Her main research interests include student learning outcomes assessment at Minority Serving Institutions, access and equity issues for underrepresented administrators and students, assessment in athletics, and higher education policy. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Organization & Leadership with a Higher Education concentration from the University of Illinois, a M.A. in Human Development Counseling from Saint Louis University, and a B.A. in Psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University. Previous to this position, she was the Director of Institutional Effectiveness & Planning at Richland Community College.

Dr. David Dees, Dean and Chief Administrative Officer, Kent State University at East Liverpool

Dr. David M. Dees currently serves as Dean and Chief Administrative Officer and Kent State University East Liverpool and Salem Campuses.  He holds a B.S. in Communications and an M.A. in Theatre from the University of Kentucky.  He also earned a doctorate in Cultural Foundations of Education from Kent State University.   Dr. Dees has taught more than 20 different courses at Kent State University.  Some of his key accomplishments during his time at Kent State include: Chairing the FPDC review committee, which led to the creation of the current Center for Teaching and Learning; Chairing the Student Survey of Instruction review committee, which led to significant changes in the evaluation of teaching; Serving as a member of Kent State University's Strategic Advisory Committee, which helped outline and define the university’s current strategic vision. Dr. Dees is the founder of the Kent State Rural Scholars program, which combines mentoring with community and corporate assistance to prepare young adults for life after high school.  Currently, more than 100 students from high-poverty backgrounds, and who will be the first in their families to go to college, are being served by this program.  Due to the success of this program in Columbiana County, similar models are being implemented at each regional campus as the Kent State Rising Scholars Program.  Dr. Dees has authored dozens of articles and has made more than 100 presentations on various topics regarding teaching and learning.  Additionally, he has been recognized for his teaching by receiving several awards including Teacher of the Year Award at Gannon University and the Outstanding Teaching Award at Kent State University.

Mr. Andre Foisy, President of AALHE & Executive Director of Institutional Outcomes Assessment, Excelsior College

Foisy is an experienced educator and higher education professional with expertise in improving academic programs through the assessment of student learning. He’s been in his current position at Excelsior College since 2018. As a board member for the Associaton for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AALHE), Andre leads teams of practitioners in activities aimed at promoting the organization, connecting members with resources, and facilitating scholarly collaborations among members. He is the incoming president for AALHE for 2020-2021.

Dr. Natasha Jankowski, Higher Education & Assessment Consultant, N/A

Dr. Natasha Jankowski is the former Executive Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) and previously served as a research associate professor with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is co-author of the book Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education, as well as co-author of Degrees that Matter: Moving Higher Education to a Learning Systems Paradigm, and co-editor of Student-Focused Learning and Assessment: Involving Students in the Learning Process in Higher Education. A forthcoming book focuses on equity and assessment. Her areas of focus include assignment design, transparency, evidence-based storytelling, equity, mapping and alignment of learning, and all things assessment. Dr. Jankowski is the recipient of Kent State University’s Alumni Award and the Young Alumni Award from the College of Education at UIUC. She holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Illinois, an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from Kent State University, and a B.A. in philosophy from Illinois State University.

More discussion leaders joining! Check back soon!

Event Info & On-Demand Recording

Any pre-event information will be provided below. Any post-event information and the archived recording will be available within 48-hours following the event. This content is only available to AEFIS Academy Community Members.



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