|Contact:||Dr. Peter White, 277-9302 or
Frank D. Martinez, 277-1811
Feb. 12, 2001
HIGHER EDUCATION CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON IMPROVING LEARNING THROUGHOUT NEW
More than 400 higher education administrators, faculty and staff are expected
to share ideas about improving learning at their schools, colleges and universities
throughout the state when the New Mexico Higher Education Assessment and Retention
(NMHEAR) Conference convenes at the Hilton Hotel in Albuquerque Feb. 22-24.
"The emphasis of this year's conference is understanding the deficiencies
that students might have when they enter post-secondary institutions, and what
we can do to bring them up to speed and enable them to succeed," explains
current NMHEAR President Larry Smith. Smith is the assessment coordinator and
planning associate at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.
"This conference will bring to New Mexico some of the very best expertise
in the country," said Dr. Tom L. Root, Senior Research and Policy Analyst
for the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education. "The conference will
allow attendees to share the best practices in the field to help students succeed."
Root said the conference is, in part, a response to the recently publicized
"Measuring Up 2000: The State-by-State Report Card for Higher Education"
in which New Mexico's institutions of higher education received "grades"
ranging from "B" in the category of affordability to "D-"
in the area of preparation.
The conference will focus on two vital issues for future of New Mexico's institutions for higher learning:
· Developing meaningful measurements for student learning and interpreting those measures to improve the quality of education;
· And, understanding why students graduate or leave college, in an attempt to better serve the needs of both students and communities in the state.
"One of the great things about this conference it is directed at the people
who work where the rubber meets the road, people who can see that improvements
in learning actually happen at their institutions," said Smith.
Broad themes will include workshops and keynote addresses by Dr. James Nichols
of University of Mississippi, regarding his work with institutional effectiveness,
and Dr. Laura I. Rendon of California State University, regarding problems with
and solutions to minority retention.
In addition, Dr. Clifford Adelman of the U.S. Department of Education will
lead a session on "How K-12 and Higher Education Can Improve College Goal
Attainment in the Southwest," and Dr. Barbara E. Walvoord, director of
the Center for Teaching and Learning and Professor of English, Notre Dame University,
who will lead a session on "Improving Learning Through Classroom-Based
Some 45 presenters from New Mexico will also speak on topics such as accreditation,
building better distance learning experiences, and creating better program assessment.
"The focus on assessment in higher education is relatively new and our
understanding of it is changing rapidly. You can't assume that what you learned
at last year's conference is all there is. We're learning new things about assessment
every year," Smith said. "Additionally, this is only the second year
that the conference has specifically addressed issues regarding the retention
and persistence of students. I'm sure many of this year's participants will
be coming primarily for that part of the conference."
Dr. Peter White, dean of UNM's University College, said "program directors and advisors at UNM will make various presentations about the successes we have had in student retention and improvements in lower-division education. These have been issues of concern to UNM for some time now and we believe we're actually ahead of the game and in a position to suggest some real solutions and approaches," he said. UNM is a conference co-sponsor.
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