Biography

I am the Coordinator for Institutional Effectiveness at the Office of Assessment and Planning. The Office of Assessment and Planning is dedicated to promoting continual improvement at Lehman College to enhance its operations, strengthen student outcomes, and to meet its accreditation requirements. I am also an adjunct faculty member in the Economics and Business Department. My courses have ranged from microeconomics to strategic management.

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In Pursuit of Cultivating Students’ Critical Thinking Abilities

In Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (The University of Chicago Press, 2011), Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa reveal that students are only “minimally improving their skills in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing during their journeys through higher education.” In their study they revealed two major findings:

  1. By the end of their sophomore year, students improved their performance on the Collegiate Learning Assessment exam (a proxy for the skills referenced...
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The Goals Behind My First Assignment

Last Wednesday, I handed my students their first assignment of the semester. The assignment was based on the day’s major economic report.

Earlier in the day, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the advance GDP report for the Fourth Quarter of 2012. In the assignment, I asked my students to obtain information from that report, simply noting that the BEA had provided its first estimate of U.S. economic activity for that quarter. I also asked students to analyze the information.

The...

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Start of Semester Introduction

With spring classes starting today, it is worth providing a brief discussion of how I handle the first class. In general, the first class is an opportunity to establish a framework aimed at facilitating student learning and performance.

My first class typically starts with a short diagnostic exam. The exam allows me to gain some insight into student knowledge in the areas I plan to cover during the semester. It also allows me to establish a benchmark against which I can measure the amount...

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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King

On this day, the nation remembers one of its greatest visionaries and champions of justice, Dr. Martin Luther King. Regular occasions on which the nation can remember Dr. King, his struggle for justice, and his vision of a better world, are important. The historical experience has demonstrated that there is no “resting place” in the quest for civil rights. Civil rights are secured and preserved only through the sustained effort of each generation. With human nature being what it is, faded...

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The Periodic Review Report: Re-accreditation at the Mid-Point

In December, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) held its annual conference. At that conference, MSCHE Vice Presidents Christy L. Faison and Debra G. Klinman discussed the Periodic Review Report (PRR). The PRR is submitted five years after a higher education institution’s decennial review. Lehman College will be submitting its next PRR in 2014.

Briefly, Middle States lists the five goals for the PRR:

  1. To help institutions gauge their progress in achieving their own goals...
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Middle States Holds Annual Conference

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), Lehman College’s accrediting agency, held its annual conference from December 5-7, 2012 in Philadelphia. The conference was comprised of plenary sessions that all participants attended, as well as concurrent breakout sessions.

The opening plenary session talked about scholarship in the digital age. That session highlighted the role of social media, blogging, and electronic platforms such as Udacity.com in Higher Education.

Additional...

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Dreams of a White Christmas

Irving Berlin’s 1942 classic “White Christmas” begins:

 The calendar advances relentlessly onward, creating ever more distance between the winters Berlin “used to know.” The trees still glisten, but the ringing of sleigh bells on snow-covered city streets is no more.

Nevertheless, those early winters are not lost. They live on in the illustrations of 19th century artists. They come alive in the colorful prose—almost yesterday’s photographs—used to describe early American snowstorms.

Five ...

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An End of Semester Note to my Students

At the end of each semester, I provide my students with a closing note about the course. That note seeks to place the course, its content, and its requirements into a larger context. I do so, because I believe it is helpful for students to have one last opportunity to understand why they took the course and perhaps better identify what they gained from the course. Such understanding can perhaps reinforce learning for the long-term.

Below is the note to my fall 2012 BBA 305 students:

With the...

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An Insight on Student Use of the Library

The November 15, 2012 edition of Library Journal discussed a survey concerning student use and perceptions of academic libraries. The article reported that even as they enjoy high approval ratings, academic libraries could benefit from improved outreach to college students.

Key findings from that survey included:

  • 90% of students who used their library said that they would be “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to use the library again.
  • Students’ primary uses of the library included study...
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Facilitating Diversity at Lehman College

In an announcement distributed to Lehman College’s faculty on November 29, Provost Dr. Anny Morrobel-Sosa announced the creation of a new Diversity Steering Council to be comprised of faculty, staff, and administrators. The Council’s first project would be the development of a Strategic Plan for Faculty Diversity by spring 2013.

This project is a logical strategic step consistent with Lehman College’s fundamental commitment to diversity. Lehman College has committed itself to diversity in its miss...

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ANNY Regional Event Shares Assessment Insights

On November 16, 2012, the Assessment Network of New York(ANNY) held a regional assessment event hosted by Rockland Community College. ANNY is a professional network established to assist New York State’s colleges and universities in their efforts to assess student learning and institutional effectiveness. Colleges and universities outside of New York State can participate and have participated in ANNY events. Lehman College’s Assessment Coordinator, Raymond Galinski, has played an...

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Following up on Outcomes from the Mid-Term Exam

In my blog entry of October 22, 2012 entitled “The Mid-Term as a Diagnostic Tool,” I wrote the Mid-Term serves among the following purposes in my class: It is a diagnostic tool for assessing student learning progress to date, its outcomes are useful in refining student preparation strategies, and its results make it possible to refine teaching emphasis for the remainder of the semester.

I also observed that the Mid-Term exam revealed a substantial student performance gap between the...

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A Post-Election Commentary

Election 2012 saw a number of Lehman College students cast a Presidential ballot for the first time. Even as their first Presidential vote was a lifetime milestone of sorts, the election was not a realigning one. Control of the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives remained unchanged.

In general, the outcome of national elections is a function of a number of variables. Outcomes are a product of the individual candidates, the nation’s circumstances, and structural factors that shape...

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Sandy's Impact Shows Region's Hurricane Risk

With its roaring winds, battering waves, and sweeping surge, Sandy reminded New Yorkers that hurricanes are not a rarity in the New York Metropolitan Area. Whether Sandy will officially be classified as a hurricane at landfall or a powerful post-tropical cyclone in the final analysis is a technical issue that changes little. The risk of tropical cyclone impacts is real.

Since 1800, New Jersey, New York, and/or Connecticut have experienced 19 hurricanes (Category 1 or stronger winds). Seven...

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Assessment in a Challenging Higher Education Environment

The combination of relentlessly rising college tuition that is pushing student debt steadily higher and creating entry barriers for qualified college entrants, a dramatic rise in federal and state government debt in the aftermath of a severe recession, a relative decline in U.S. educational attainment, and the job market challenges currently facing new graduates is increasing pressure for colleges and universities to demonstrate value-added. 

That pressure is not likely to abate anytime soon....

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The Mid-Term as a Diagnostic Tool

October is a month in which summer’s fading warming sometimes lingers a little longer, approaching winter’s first frost nips fragile blossoms and lush blades of grass, the leaves erupt in a growing explosion of color, and a sweet harvest of gourds—and Candy Corn for children—ends the month. It is also a month when Mid-Term Examinations can provide early but robust insight into student learning progress.

In my classes, the Mid-Term serves four purposes: (1) it is a diagnostic tool for assessing...

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IMF Report Presents a Teaching Opportunity

Among the goals for Lehman College’s Economics Program is that graduates will “demonstrate understanding of national and international economic issues and linkages.”

To facilitate that goal, my course utilizes the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) semi-annual World Economic Outlook reports. Those reports contain a chapter that discusses global economic prospects and policies and another that focuses on country and regional perspectives. Additional chapters are focused on timely themes...

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Writing SAT Scores Set New Low

The 2012 scores for the writing SAT exam saw male and female high school students reach a new low.  The writing test was first administered in 2006. That outcome further illustrates the importance of enhanced opportunities for student writing improvement at the college level.

During spring 2012, my BBA 407—Microeconomic Foundations of Business course for first-year business students was “writing-intensive.” Such courses require students to write 15-20 pages of proofread, typed work over...

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Lehman College to Submit Progress Report to Middle States in April 2013

Lehman College will be submitting a Progress Report to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (the College’s Accreditor) on April 1, 2013. The Progress Report will document that the College has maintained the “organized and sustained assessment process to evaluate and improve student learning and institutional effectiveness” that it had documented in its Monitoring Report of April 1, 2011.

Assessment is vital to a college’s ability to maintain its accreditation status. Every unit...

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Introduction

I am Don Sutherland, Lehman College’s Coordinator for Institutional Effectiveness and an adjunct faculty member in the Business & Economics Department.

My blog has three goals:

  1. To discuss assessment, primarily as it relates to institutional effectiveness.  The blog will provide one avenue by which Lehman College can pursue its strategic objective of fostering “a culture of continuous assessment focused on institutional effectiveness.”
  2. To share insights from my classes. Topics will include...
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