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ECC’s energetic environment inspires Lisa Wiehle daily

Lisa Wiehle

Lisa Wiehle

Lisa Wiehle chose the right time to learn what Elgin Community College was all about.

Her interview for an open position for institutional research director was on the first day of the spring semester. In addition to the return of students from the long winter break, it's also when activities are held as part of the Student Life Office.

“It was mayhem in the SRC (now Building B)! There was a guy on stilts, music, popcorn and people everywhere,” she said. “It was a great first impression that this place would be full of energy.”

Nearly 12 years later, Wiehle serves as the college's manager of outcomes assessment. While she doesn't work directly with students, she plays an important role in their success. One of her initiatives is the Assessment Diaries, which will be held on Friday, Feb. 5. This is the event's sixth year and she's excited about it.

“A week doesn't go by where I don't think, `Oooh, this would be great for the Assessment Diaries,'” Wiehle said. The event features Oscars-like fanfare with awards in the categories of “Outstanding Course Assessment,” “Outstanding Program Review,” “Outstanding Curriculum Design,” and the “President's Choice Award.”

We caught up to Wiehle to ask her some questions about herself, her initiatives and ECC. Here's what she said.

In your words, what do you do at ECC?

I serve as a resource to faculty to help define, strengthen, measure and improve student learning outcomes at course, program and institutional levels.

Also, I am one of the founding members of the Data Rangers and consult with many of the student satisfaction inventory (SSI) project teams to plan strategies to measure effectiveness. I work with faculty one-on-one, offer CETL workshops, and facilitate the program review process.

What is your greatest accomplishment since you've been here?

Creating and sustaining the annual Assessment Diaries event. The first one was held in 2010 in direct response to our Higher Learning Commission (HLC) focus visit. They encouraged ECC to create a platform where faculty could share their stories of student learning and the college could recognize all that we accomplish in this area. We are looking forward to this event. (Shameless plug: Register today!).

From where I sit in the organization, particularly through program review, SSI, and within the curriculum office, I'm aware of a lot of great things that our faculty and staff are continuously doing to improve the student experience. Some become very large and take on lives of their own, such as the Alliance for College Readiness; others are much smaller, but can be as meaningful, such as devising means to help students prepare for an exam, or altering the details of a particular assignment to elicit more critical thought and reflection from the student. 

What would you do if you were ECC president for a day?

Give everyone a high-five and a piece of chocolate. Dr. Sam is a great cheerleader, but chocolate is an extra-special touch …

If there was a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?

Tina Fey.

What's on your “bucket list?”

My family and I want to go to Key West, Fla. and see the six-toed cats. Hemmingway was not one of my favorites, but I would like to go and soak in the scene.

What's one fact we should know about you?

I drove a freight train when I was 11 years old on “take your daughter to work day.”

What's something about your job that others should know?

A lot of people think data and data analysis is dry and boring. I actually think it can be quite exciting. 

I am a creative person and find ways to bring this mindset to the job. For example, as part of the Assessment Diaries this year, we are adding a new event to stir up some excitement: Shark Tank! With funding from SSI, we are encouraging pitches from anyone at the college for ideas (founded on data) to improve student success! Finalists will present at lunch and a big cardboard check will be presented to the winner(s) on the spot!

What was your favorite class in school (could be elementary, high school or college)?

As a kid I always took the surveys in TV Guide. In college I researched how “Family Feud” got its surveys done (they have a panel). My degrees are in sociology, which is a nice mix of human behavior, and math/science.

What was your first job out of school?

I was a research assistant for a patient satisfaction consulting firm, and worked my way up to quality improvement consultant. When I came to ECC from that job, it took a while to stop referring to the people in my charts as “patients.”

Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because … “

Though I don't work directly with students, it is immensely satisfying to be part of what we do here-improving people's lives through learning! 


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