James W. Pennebaker gave an interesting talk during the last Art of the Mind lecture. The lecture, entitled “The Secret Life of Pronouns,” discussed the psychology behind language use. One of the topics covered by Pennebaker is Language Style Matching (LSM). LSM refers to the degree to which two people match each other’s writing or speaking style (Ireland, et al., 2010). This concept has mainly been used to determine relationship quality. Couples whose language styles are more closely matched are more likely to be in stable relationships than those couples whose language styles do not match.
Although LSM was coded based on the use of function words (i.e. an, the, here, etc.), in terms of the workplace I think language style matching is very important when using content words. Often, people working within the same program match well on language style. Their LSM stems from having similar educational and work experiences. However, across programs our language styles tend to mismatch. This mismatch in language leads many programs to think there are very few similarities between the work they do and the work that other programs do. This issue may surface when OIA and academic programs work together. In order to reach common ground, OIA intentionally works collaboratively with programs to create assessment plans and tools. Since we are not fluent in each others’ language styles, it does not make sense for OIA to write program’s goals and outcomes, and it doesn’t make sense for a program to create an assessment plan. In order for us to effectively collaborate with one another it’s important to become familiar with each others’ language styles. This is one of the reasons why OIA coordinators observe classes, attend department lectures, and participate in curriculum council. We are trying to understand programs through the way they are discussed at different levels within the university.
OIA wants to ensure that everyone is fluent in assessment language to improve the university’s understanding of the assessment process. OIA is working hard to establish university-wide standards for our assessment work, and that includes developing a library of assessment terminology. Please use the following list to become familiar with OIA’s language style.
Program Assessment – faculty evaluation of program work to foster evidence-based decision making for the purpose of improving student learning.
Accreditation – the utilization of program assessment work to provide evidence that the university is meeting certain requirements outlined by various accreditation boards.
Program Design Session – a collaborative meeting between academic programs and OIA to develop program-level goals and outcomes and develop program design maps.
Program Goal – an overarching statement explaining what students are capable of once they complete each program degree. See example here.
Program Outcomes – measurable/observable behaviors that reflect the program goal statement. See example here.
Program Design Maps – a grid-like map demonstrating which program outcomes are taught in each of the required major courses. See examples here.
B.F.A. Program Scoring Guide – an assessment tool designed to align with BFA program goals and outcomes and designed to measure BFA capstone-level work (usually a portfolio)
M.A. Program Scoring Guide - an assessment tool designed to align with MA program goals and outcomes and designed to measure MA capstone-level work (usually a final project)
M.F.A. Program Scoring Guide – an assessment tool designed to align with MFA program goals and outcomes and designed to measure MFA capstone-level work (usually a thesis). See example here