Academic Affairs

Union College Assessment Plan

Ashok Ramasubramanian, Director of Assessment
July 2020 Revision

Union College has a comprehensive assessment system which covers both student learning and institutional effectiveness. Assessment is carried out both at the institutional level (via Strategic Plan Assessment) and at the unit level. Here, "unit" refers to any entity that has a director or chairperson who reports directly to a member of the senior staff or to a dean. Units include academic departments and programs, offices, and entities such as the Writing Center and Library.

The Director of Assessment has primary responsibility for overseeing assessment at Union. The directorship is a one-third-time position filled by a member of the faculty for a three-year term. The Director of Assessment reports to the Vice-President for Academic Affairs.

Institutional/College Level Assessment

College-level Institutional Assessment is carried out via Strategic Plan Assessment. Union College recently adopted a new Strategic Plan, which contains two overall goals, each of which contains a number of objectives. The goals are rooted in the College’s mission statement.

The Strategic Plan Assessment Report (SPAR), produced annually by the Director of Assessment, reports on the levels of achievement of the goals and objectives in the Strategic Plan. The SPAR is first presented to Union College Senior Staff who review it and make recommendations for edits. A revision, which takes into account Senior Staff comments, is then presented to the Planning and Priorities group (P&P), which in turn may recommend changes to ensure progress toward Strategic Plan goals.

A list of Performance Criteria to evaluate the progress under the new Strategic Plan is currently under development.

Academic Departments and Programs Assessment of Educational Effectiveness

Individual departments and programs carry out annual assessments of their learning objectives as described in their assessment plans. These learning objectives and goals are collected in the assessment website.

Every year, each department and program is expected to submit an assessment report to the director of assessment, who then provides feedback and suggests changes as necessary. The final reports are posted to Nexus. All academic departments also undergo periodic external reviews, whose results are used to improve student learning, improve pedagogy, and revise academic programs and services. Other programs that support educational effectiveness also have regular external reviews— examples include the Athletics Department and the Becker Career Center. Certain units, including the Common Curriculum, Writing Center, and International Programs Office, have learning goals that transcend department-level boundaries and have institution-wide significance. These units also have assessment plans, and they also assess student learning annually. The resulting reports are reviewed and posted to Nexus.

Office Level Assessment of Institutional Effectiveness

The College is divided into six responsibility centers (RCs) headed by a vice-president (VP), or in the case of the President’s Office, by the Chief of Staff. Each of these RCs is in turn divided into smaller units called, variously, offices, departments, or other names, headed by a director (in a few cases the title is “manager” rather than “director”). For assessment purposes, the term “offices” includes all of these smaller units, and the term “director” includes the head of any one of these units. Most of the college’s directors report to one of the five VPs.

Each of the units has a statement of that unit’s goals, which is found on the public assessment site. Directors revise their long-term goals, in consultation with their supervisors, as needed. Each of the units will have an assessment plan, which is available on the Nexus website.

Each of the unit directors submits an annual assessment report to their supervisor. The report is then reviewed by the Director of Assessment, who provides feedback as warranted. The report is then posted on Nexus.