Spotlight is published twice each semester by the Office of Assessment and Continuous Improvement in the College of Education to highlight promising practices in assessment and continuous improvement. This edition of the Spotlight examines the use of RSQC2 to improve classroom learning, information from UI REACH about their process for revising their mission statement, and guidance from student success on supporting student communities during COVID-19.

Mission Statement

To deliver a personal, affordable, and top-ranked education for students who want to collaborate with renowned faculty to solve problems and effect change in the field of education in our community, our country, and around the world.

Vision Statement

A world-class college of education: leading research, engaging our communities, and preparing education and mental health professionals for innovation and impact.


  • Collaboration and Engagement
  • Commitment to Community
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Equity
  • Excellence
  • Innovation
  • Integrity

Prepared by Jeremy Penn with support from Michelle Yu and the Continuous Improvement Committee (Chris Annicella, Emily Campbell, Brian Douglas, Lois Gray, and Nancy Langguth).

To share a promising practice in a future edition of the Spotlight you are using in your classroom, in your program, or in your department, please contact

Classroom Assessment Tidbit

Using RSQC2 to Improve Learning

RSQC2, or “Recall, Summarize, Question, Connect, Comment,” represents a set of techniques that can be used to improve student learning while giving the instructor information that can be used to inform their teaching strategies. RSQC2 was described in detail in Angelo and Cross’s (1993) classic assessment book, Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for Faculty. (Jeremy Penn would be happy to loan you his copy of this book at some point in the future when he returns to his office in the Lindquist Center.)

The elements of RSQC2, described in more detail below, can be used individually, although they are most effective when they are used together. To illustrate the use of RSQC2, we will present examples from a hypothetical instructional unit on the water cycle.

Recall: Students should describe one or two things they learned about the topic so far and describe why it was interesting to them. Sample prompt: What one thing have you learned about the water cycle so far that was the most interesting to you? Sample answer: I found it interesting that the total amount of water on Earth doesn’t really change much over time, but water moves around, and changes form over and over again.

Summarize: Students should broadly describe their overall level of understanding about the topic. Sample prompt: How would you explain the water cycle to someone who hasn’t heard of it before? Sample answer: The water cycle is about how water goes from the ocean, to clouds, to rain, snow, and ice, and then back to the ocean again.

Question: Students should identify one or two questions they still have about the topic. Sample prompt: Do you have any questions about the water cycle you hope we answer in the next few days? Sample answer: How long does it take for rain that lands in Iowa to end up in the ocean?

Connect: Students should connect what they are learning in this area to things they are learning in other courses or in other parts of this course. Sample prompt: Can you think of other cycles we have discussed in class in earlier units? Sample answer: I remember we talked about photosynthesis, which was about how oxygen moves between plants, animals, and the air.

Comment: Students should note one or two things about their learning in this area. Sample prompt: What have you enjoyed most about learning about the water cycle so far? Sample answer: I liked drawing the picture that showed the various forms of water in the water cycle.

These five techniques – recall, summarize, question, connect, comment – can be used on as part of a public component of a course, such as a course discussion board or as a class activity, or in a one-on-one meeting between the instructor and a student. Either way, RSQC2 provides the instructor with information to use to adjust their teaching and helps students connect and reengage their prior learning to prepare them for the learning that is to come.

College Data Tidbit

Revising a Mission Statement for UI REACH

It is important for departments, programs, and units to regularly update their mission and vision statements. Mission and vision statements communicate externally to prospective students and employees, donors, and other stakeholders what you are about and the change you seek to bring about in the world. Mission and vision statements also serve a central role in informing strategic planning and continuous improvement activities. As described in Bill Loyd’s article below, the process of updating these statements is a meaningful and powerful way to engage with stakeholders.

By Bill Loyd

2020 provided a clear indication for how quickly major changes can occur. While most years don’t bring such drastic change, we have seen UI REACH evolve since its inception in 2008. To ensure that our program remains relevant and current, we thought it timely to again review our purpose and the outcomes we want to achieve.  So, over the past year, UI REACH has gathered feedback on our vision, mission statements, and strategic directions from representative groups of students, families, advisory board members, staff, campus stakeholders, and community stakeholders. Staff poured many hours into conducting over 70 interviews to gather this important feedback. After data collection, review, and analysis, we began crafting statements and action steps that reflect who we are and what we are trying to achieve. Our advisory board, staff, and UI REACH student organizations helped us to continually refine the statements and the plan. After much hard work and deliberation, we are thrilled to announce that we have finalized both statements and developed a plan to guide UI REACH growth for the next three years.

Our vision statement describes the change we want to see because of our work.

VISION: Empowered and self-directed individuals who are included in communities that embrace people of all abilities.

How do we get there? Our mission statement describes the approach that we will take in realizing our vision.

MISSION: Cultivating individualized supports and opportunities that promote advocacy and success in everyday life. 

Much consideration was given as to whether the word “disabilities” would appear in either statement. Instead, we decided to focus on the many abilities that our students possess and obtain while at UI REACH. We also realize that our work goes beyond our students to every person that we encounter. We are an inclusive community, and we hope to inspire other communities towards the acceptance of individuality and diversity as the norms.   

We are thrilled with the launch of these statements. Very soon you will see them in our signage, on our website, and in other places where UI REACH is promoted.

Promising Practice

Creating and Sustaining Virtual Student Communities during COVID-19

In November 2020, the University of Iowa’s Student Success Team held an online meeting with a panel of faculty, staff, and students to discuss strategies for creating and sustaining virtual student communities. These strategies can be used with research teams, study groups, disciplinary social clubs, and even entire classes. Visit the November 2020 meeting page for a link to a Zoom recording of the meeting. The promising practices identified in the meeting are also helpful to consider outside the context of a pandemic as they support the participation of students who may not be able to participate in a face-to-face setting.

Strategies identified by student panelists McKrina Lopez, Jacob Sammon, and Hazel Ward, included:

  • Host virtual office hours where students can drop-in to connect with others.
  • Virtual hours do not have to have a formal agenda and can include time for games, chatting, sharing a meal (online), or getting to know students on a personal level.
  • Use technology tools to offer opportunities that would not be possible in a face-to-face environment, such as interaction with alumni from around the country or world, or speakers from industry or research centers.
  • Recognize that not all students have the same needs and may have varying levels of interest in connecting online.
  • Offer alternative options for engaging to help students address Zoom fatigue. When using Zoom, make the event as interactive as possible and avoid long amounts of time with a single ‘talking head.’  
  • Students may not be checking email as often, so consider other mechanisms for reaching out to students.
  • Get feedback from students about events and what you might do differently next time.
  • Recognize that students have a limited amount of Zoom energy capacity in a week.

Strategies identified by Katherine Beydler, Assistant Director of the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology, included:

  • Be intentional about getting to know the students and about sharing who you are. Use icebreakers regularly to build rapport between participants. Many icebreaker ideas can be found online.
  • Learn and use names.
  • Discuss expectations for communication and participation.
  • When using group activities in a class, consider using low-stakes group work or activities rather than exclusively for major projects. Low-stakes group work can be about content or can be more informal or silly (such as favorite food or television show).

Future Opportunities

  • Baldrige 2021 Quest for Excellence conference: April 12 – April 15, 2021 (online).