As student-leaders on campus, Celina Stratton and Danny Balogh were given the task
of creating assessment tools to measure students’ enjoyment and growth in intramural
sports and Concordia Cares, a community service program.
What they didn’t expect was to make a
presentation of their findings to educators
at a conference in Memphis.
“They were mini-rock stars,” says George
Wright, administrative dean of the School
of Business. “Instructors came up afterward
and said, ‘How did you do that?’”
The unusual opportunity began with a
simple choice CUI made during its recent
WASC accreditation: to allow students instead
of staff to assess extracurricular and
co-curricular activities and design effective
surveys to evaluate student satisfaction.
“What Concordia is doing differently from
other schools is getting students involved
in the assessment process,” says Celina, a
senior studying mass communication and
marketing. “Rather than supervisors and
staff assessing us, why not have the leaders
of these programs do it themselves? It was
a pretty big learning curve to grasp that,
but now it’s an expectation going into student
leadership that you have to complete
these assessments. Students aren’t really
doing that [at other schools], which is why
they felt it was worthy to have us
at the conference.”
Celina created and conducted a survey
to measure the overall effectiveness of
intramural sports at CUI. Students were
asked if they had improved in areas such as
teamwork, time management and cooperation
skills. She graphed the results and
was able to say with confidence that the
intramural program improved students’
Danny, a business management major,
was student coordinator of Concordia
Cares, the community service outreach
program within CUI’s Leadership Education
and Development (LEAD) program.
She created tools to assess how students
developed through the year.
“For me, assessing Concordia Cares was a
big process,” Danny says. “We were thrown
into it. We started by developing surveys.
We preferred to verbally go over these
with students. We wanted to get statistics
on how many students were actually coming,
the response rate, how many would
return, what they learned and which events
were successful or not. We had follow-up
groups to debrief about how the different
events impacted them and what they had
learned. It helped to shape the program
for the next year.”
Wright says he had never seen students
present at the International Assembly for
Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)
conference, but when the call came for
presenters, he and Deborah Lee, director
of CUI’s institutional research and assessment,
thought that CUI’s innovation merited
attention—and that Celina and Danny
should be the ones to talk about it.
“It is not common for students to do
this,” says Lee. “The IACBE conference is
attended by professors, administrators and
deans. If there are students in these types
of conferences, they sit on a panel but
never lead their own presentations. Celina
and Danny did an entire workshop on their
own, thirty-five minutes by themselves.
They fielded questions really well.”
Celina says it was “definitely nerve-wracking
to present at an accreditation conference,
but the process became less intimidating
because we practiced and received feedback
from business educators at CUI. We
were the only student presenters at the
conference, and that alone was an awesome feeling. I felt respected, too. Experienced
educators were looking to us for our input.
We wanted to help them just as much as
they wanted to help their own students.
We received a lot of positive feedback from
our presentation. It was a really cool thing.”
Educators were particularly interested
in how to successfully set up systems so
students at their institutions could conduct
“The fact that we were assessing extracurricular
activities on our own was
definitely surprising to them,” Danny says.
“They asked a lot of questions about what
is to come, how the program would evolve
and how we would keep assessing it.”
It is not common
for students to do an
Wright says CUI’s School of Business
is becoming a pacesetter for effective
assessment internally and externally.
“We have formalized the process
and have a lot more, and a lot clearer,
digestible information that we can make
improvements with” compared with
previous years, he says.
Putting some assessments in student
hands helps students learn to “apply this
in everyday life and at their job,” Lee says.
Celina says her experience at the conference
“allowed me to practice networking,
people skills, presentation skills, and much
more. Professors teach you about these
skills in class but actually putting them to
use in a real-life setting was experience
you can’t have in the classroom.”
Danny admits that “many times I thought
to myself before I got to Memphis, ‘How
can I get out of this?’ It was super-overwhelming.
But once we got there it was a
great feeling, very exhilarating. I wouldn’t
hesitate to go speak about assessment
again. I used to be terrified but I don’t get
those jitters anymore. It’s more excitement.”
The pair is now collaborating on a paper
to be peer-reviewed and perhaps published
in an academic journal. It explains how
co-curricular activities provide learning
experiences beyond the classroom in a
student’s overall development.