What is assessment ?
Put simply, assessment answers the question, how well is an entity meetings its goals ? For an educational institution, the stated goals often involve student learning. So assessment begins with Goals. According to the Middle States Commission for Higher Education (MSCHE),
Assessment of student learning and achievement demonstrates that the institution’s students have accomplished educational goals consistent with their program of study, degree level, the institution’s mission, and appropriate expectations for institutions of higher education.
Assessment is closely linked to Continuous Improvement because the results of the assessment process are used to effect program changes.
What makes for good student learning outcomes?
MSCHE Criterion V requires "clearly stated educational goals at the institution and degree/program levels, which are interrelated with one another, with relevant educational experiences, and with the institution’s mission"
In addition learning outcomes should be developed with assessment in mind. In other words vague phrasing that impedes assessment should be avoided. It is also recommended that learning outcomes are kept small in number with minimal or no overlap between outcomes.
How does one measure student learning?
Middle states emphasizes the use of direct as well as indirect measures
- Direct measures include examinations, writing assignments, course work portfolios, etc.
- Indirect measures include surveys, interviews, etc.
How does assessment work for interdisciplinary programs?
Interdisciplinary programs pose their own assessment challenges, but the basic assessment process remains the same:
- Identifying student learning outcomes consistent with the program's mission
- Finding ways to measure those outcomes
- Using the results of the assessment process for program improvement
What information should be in the assessment report? When is the report due? Where does it go?
The assessment report is an annual report on student learning. The assessment committee, department chair or program director for each academic department/program is responsible for generating the report, which can be emailed to the assessment director for the college (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com). The reports are due on January 10, annually. Each report should include a summary of assessments completed during the year, results from the assessment, and changes, implemented or planned, to improve student learning. Reports will also be written for general education, WAC, and international programs. All of the reports will be made available on the College's Nexus website.