Campus Conversation

Using Technology to Facilitate Assessment and Accreditation in Counseling Programs

The counseling department at Wake Forest University began using Anthology Portfolio® in 2017 to support embedded course assessment as well as to track and engage students, faculty and external partners in the experiential learning (Practicum) component of their programs.

They also rely on Portfolio to support their Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation efforts. We spoke with Dr. Nathan Ivers, department chair, about their experience using the tool in their online and face-to-face counseling programs.

Headshot of Nathan Ivers, Ph.D.

Nathan Ivers, Ph.D.

Department Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Counseling
Wake Forest University

Q: Wake Forest’s Department of Counseling is considered a best practice institution for your use of Anthology Portfolio's ePortfolio and Experiential Learning tools. What are the key benefits of using technology to support these processes?

A: At Wake Forest, we have a large department of counseling with online and face-to-face programs. We employ core full-time faculty along with about seventy-five teaching assistants. Despite the magnitude of instructors and diversity in delivery models, Portfolio allows us to do what we told our accrediting body we were planning to do. Integration with our learning management system (LMS) is an essential part of our assessment and field placement processes. Students can complete their assignments and submit them through the LMS. Faculty and teaching assistants use instruments tied directly to learning outcomes in Portfolio. Assessors give contextual feedback and can also capture outcomes achievement data devoid of the grading noise without duplicating efforts. CACREP requires us to provide quantitative ratings on performance and store evidence of student learning and the feedback that students receive from our faculty. The flexibility of the tool's workflows and features allow us to do all of this effectively and efficiently.

Q: How do you think Anthology Portfolio has an impact on your culture of assessment?

A: Before Portfolio, the reports we needed to make data-driven decisions were hard to come by. Decisions were much more anecdotal when they should be based on program needs and data. Without assessment software, data is often in disparate locations and is difficult to access or make sense of. Every time I run assessment reports in Portfolio, I am amazed at how much I can drill into my data. I can easily aggregate and disaggregate the data to answer specific questions. It is great to have access to all that information at my fingertips.

Q: What has been Anthology Portfolio’s impact on larger projects such as annual program review and The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) Accreditation?

A: We are required to complete annual program evaluation reports for our University. Rather than going to individual faculty members or running down data in disparate places, I can go into Portfolio and the data is right there. This efficiency allows us to gather more data and better evaluate our work. Once we implemented the product as an integrated part of our assessment process, we were amazed at how much more we could speak in quantitative and qualitative terms to the work that we do. While we have not yet completed our report for CACREP, we have no worries when it comes time for the midcycle CACREP report because they ask for the same data that we are already collecting and reviewing on an annual basis.

Q: I know that field experience or professional practice is an integral part of all counseling programs. How has Anthology Portfolio supported this process?

A: We use Portfolio’s Experiential Learning tool for internship and practicum courses. Before implementing Portfolio for our face-to-face students, time logs, required signatures and all evaluations were done through a hard copy medium. Someone then had to transfer this information to a digital format for aggregation and review. Our online programs were scanning and submitting documentation, which came in various formats and took a tremendous amount of time for the students, faculty, and program administrators. Now that we have the experiential learning tool, all tracking, submitting, assessing, and recording hours happen online. This saves us many, many hours of time and effort. Additionally, all stakeholders, both at the institution and in the field, can now easily access this information. Because we had Portfolio on campus, we were able to quickly pivot to fully online in the wake of COVID-19, which would have been much more difficult without.

Our sincere thanks to Nathan Ivers for sharing his experiences with us. If you’d like your campus to be showcased, reach out to your consultant.