One of the joys of Institutional Effectiveness is when we can celebrate our strengths as an institution and learn best practices from our own faculty and staff. The Enhancement Spotlight features how Mississippi State's faculty and staff use the assessment process to improve their programs and services.
Antonio Gardner, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion
STARKVILLE, Miss. — Qualitative feedback is key to making meaningful changes, according to Dr. Antonio Gardner, assistant professor of Health Promotion in the department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion. With evaluation being one of the core competencies in his profession, Gardner says that evaluation and assessment is integral to all aspects of his work.
In order to have a complete picture of students’ achievements, Gardner incorporates various types of assessment in his courses. He relies on both writing assignments and tests because “tests tell you students’ knowledge and writing tells you application.” The writing assignments are additions he has made to his courses to supplement the quantitative data that comes from test scores.
In his Basic Principles of Health Promotion class, he has incorporated ways to get informal and formal feedback from students on what they find effective in the course. This feedback has led to changes such as adding quizzes to help students prepare for exams and changing the time the class is offered. Whether by class discussions, teacher evaluations, or reflective writing, Gardner gives students opportunities to talk about what they’re learning and what they’re exposed to in his classes, and he often makes modifications to his courses based on their feedback. In one case, he introduced writing assignments in a course to provide a balance of qualitative assessment of student learning to the quantitative test scores.
Gardner also contributes to the Health Promotion (MS) program’s annual assessment plan. He says one of the most important parts of meaningful assessment in general is “getting clear feedback from instructors about what they value” and getting comments from students on evaluations. “The qualitative stuff is sometimes more helpful than the numbers.”
To make sure a program is effective, Gardner says “whatever you plan to do, make sure you have a very specific, very strategic evaluation plan in place. If things go wrong, that’s ok. That’s why we do assessment—to see what needs to be improved and to see what’s working well.”
If you or someone you know would like to be recognized for committment to assessment and enhancement, please contact Ed Dechert.