What is Assessment?
- Assessment is the systematic and on-going process of collecting, interpreting, and acting on information relating to the goals and outcomes developed to support the institution’s mission and purpose. It does two things:
- Establishes accountability. This is the idea that the resources allocated to our programs and/or services are spent responsibly and are translated into results. Furthermore, it shows that the programs and/or services operations are achieving the objectives of the University’s Strategic Plan and the Division of Student Affairs Strategic Initiatives.
- Provides information permitting us to improve our programs and/or services and ultimately student learning outcomes.
Assessment begins with the articulation of outcomes. Writing measurable outcomes involves the first three components in the assessment cycle:
- Identify Strategic Outcomes
- Create Criterion for Success
- Design Assessment Methods
- “…assessment has been defined to measure ‘student growth and development”.
- Assessment is the systematic process of gathering, interpreting, and acting upon data related to student learning and experience for the purposes of course and program improvement. The connection between teaching and learning is a complex one, and it is necessary to use multiple measures to develop a comprehensive understanding of how curriculum design and delivery relate to student learning. Assessment is an iterative and adaptive process in which results inform changes to instructional and assessment practices. The critical element is the use of results in decision-making. Finally, the basis of good assessment practice is a shared understanding of program goals to ensure that all those involved in curriculum delivery are working toward the same ends.
- The assessment of student learning begins with educational values.
Assessment is not an end in itself but a vehicle for educational improvement. Its effective practice, then, begins with and enacts a vision of the kinds of learning we most value for students and strive to help them achieve. Educational values should drive not only what we choose to assess but also how we do so. Where questions about educational mission and values are skipped over, assessment threatens to be an exercise in measuring what’s easy, rather than a process of improving what we really care about.
(Part of the 9 Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning; These principles were developed under the auspices of the AAHE Assessment Forum with support from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education with additional support for publication and dissemination from the Exxon Education Foundation. Copies may be made without restriction. The authors are Alexander W. Astin, Trudy W. Banta, K. Patricia Cross, Elaine El-Khawas, Peter T. Ewell, Pat Hutchings, Theodore J. Marchese, Kay M. McClenney, Marcia Mentkowski, Margaret A. Miller, E. Thomas Moran, and Barbara D. Wright.
- “Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning. It involves Making our expectations explicit; Setting appropriate criteria and high standards for learning; Systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; Using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance.”
Angelo, Tom. (May, 1999). Doing Assessment as if Learning Matters Most. American Association for Higher Education Assessment Bulletin.
- “Assessment is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development.”
Marchese, T. J.(1987). Third Down, Ten Years to Go. AAHE Bulletin, 40, 3-8.
- “Assessment is a set of processes designed to improve, demonstrate, and inquire about student learning.”
Mentowski, M. (1998). “Creating a Culture of Assessment: A Look Through the Lens of Assessment Update: Assessment Trends: What Have We Learned from a Decade of Assessment Update?” An interactive session at the American Association for Higher Education Assessment Conference, Cincinnati, Ohio, June 13-17, 1998.
Assessment Web Resources
AACU Association of American Colleges and Universities
- This website is helpful for anyone facing re-accreditation.
- Colleges and universities already accredited by the Higher Education Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools can elect to participate in the ongoing AQIP program as an alternative to the traditional decennial re-accreditation process. AQIP provides a framework for continuous improvement following the Quality model. Assessment is an integral part of this process.
- The Higher Education Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. (2005). Retrieved October, 16, 2005.
- Summarizes a Student Affairs Assessment Seminar held in June 2005. The 3-day seminar included a resource manual, which is available to non-attendees. You can purchase the manual for $90.00 and you can request a copy.
Assessment Handbook created by Georgia Institute of Technology*
- This website is helpful for anyone just beginning to explore assessment strategies. In an effort to create a user-friendly language, this site has a manual which they term “A Baker’s Guide to Assessment Plan Development”. The site has an 11-stage process for how to create an effective assessment.
- This resource focuses on asking the right questions: Why, What, When Who, Where, How; as they pertain to the First Year Experience. It has an excellent r
- While this site is not loaded with surveys, tests and research samples, it does link you to information about the NTCLA and the 2004 summer institute. The information is valuable even though it is dated.
- By following the link to “Research and Technology,” one can view research documents published by various counseling centers. The site includes an opportunity to participate in a national study on counseling center trends. The site is for college counseling centers, but the research links have a broader application to student affairs.
DRAGON: A collection of Student Affairs Resources*
- The DRAGON site is an excellent starting point that provides a great number of links to assessment related information and resources that are helpful for designing and conducting assessment projects. The two most helpful sections of the site include the clearinghouse and on-line access to assessments
- This commercial site provides assessments for colleges and universities in different areas such as housing, college unions, and First Year Experience. The site also has articles and other resources.
- Web site includes links to a variety of evaluation resources, including a basic guide to program evaluation, guide to conducting focus groups, and sample size calculator.
Higher Education Research Institute (HERI)
- Information from and about national student surveys
- This page lists several resources, including websites for other institution’s assessment resources, books and articles, related to assessment efforts.
- Information relating to all aspects of assessment their organization has conducted
- Website provides useful assessment information.
- The website offers a page on “Assessment Resources” which provides: 1) Information for other institutions (including a Dictionary of Student Outcome Assessment); 2) Assessment Methods (including Assessment Instruments, Assessment Tips, Techniques, and Examples, Template for Assessment Plan and Report); 3) Center Scholarship (this provides written report on specific areas of assessment research); 4) Relevant Assessment Links (including General Assessment and Institutional Assessment)
Miami University Evaluation of Diversity Plan
- Evaluation of Miami University (Ohio) progress towards a diversity plan and multiculturalism. This includes information about residence hall programs that encourage multiculturalism.
Michigan State University Department of Residence Life*
- A large number of surveys done by the Department of Residence Life at Michigan State University, including transfers, first-years, sophomores, and the community as a whole.
- The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) also sponsors the Assessment of Advising Commission. NACADA offers many resources to assess the academic advising practices of an institution. These resources are note only for advisors, but other institutional stakeholders who may be interested in the effectiveness of advising at an institution, such as VPs, Presidents, department chairs, and directors of institutional research.
National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC)
- This site provides their annual “State of College Admission Report,” based upon results of their Admissions Trends Survey and their Counseling Trends Survey. The Counseling Trends Survey polled high school guidance counselors in May of 2004 and the Admissions Trends Survey polled college admissions counselors in August of 2004. This website is most informative in how it portrays a formative evaluation. One not only has access to tables and results from the surveys, but also has the ability to see how NACAC translates the information into an evaluative report.
National Association of College and Employers
- The National Association of College and Employers has a comprehensive website for its members. The survey section has research reports for both the public and organizations members. The focus of these surveys and reports related to careers, job outlook, salary data, recruiting trends for employers, benchmarking data and international data.
- The National Center for Education Statistics is a government website that hosts a multitude of information. The site covers information on early childhood through post secondary education. Readers can link through assessment information or go directly to areas of interested such as international or postsecondary. NCES purpose to collect and analyze data related to education in the US and other countries.
National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition First-Year Assessment Instrument Database
- This is a great search engine for finding instruments to use to assess many facets of different year programs.
- Alverno College is on the forefront of assessment. They have published perspectives from students to the NSSE to help tem choose a college. Most colleges point to outside sources, such as US News and World Report but Alverno is asking perspectives to look at what their own students say about their experience. An interesting use of assessment.
- This resource focuses on retention and why students choose to leave UMass Amherst after their first year; academic, financial, home/family issues. Results are applicable to other institutions.
North Carolina State University Assessment Resources*
How Perspective Students Can Use the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Results From Current Students to Choose a College
- This website offers links to a large amount of resources that may be useful for assessment planning. There is a categorical index for the links. It includes definitions of assessment, assessment documents, types of assessment done at various universities and more.
North Carolina State University Office of Assessment, New Student Orientation*
- This site provides an interesting look at what a department did with the information obtained through assessment, in particular orientation programs.
- This website posts the results of an actual assessment (2004) on the climate of GLBT issues in schools. It provides statistics for anyone interested in finding out quantitative data on GLBT climate in school systems.
The Policy Center on the First Year of College
- This page has assessment instruments used to assess first-year programs and learning outcomes.
- This is a very useful because it has on-line journal articles about assessment in higher education. The articles cover a variety of topics – from creating an assessment to administering it to analyzing the data. This is a very comprehensive site and would be useful for anyone interested in assessment and research.
- This is student affairs.com on-line magazine for technology and student affairs. You should do a search for assessment and you will get many results.
Student Affairs Research Tools Archives
- On-Line Assessment and Evaluation Tools
- Web site includes instruments are from the Indiana State University
University of California-Berkeley Living-Learning Survey
- A copy of the UC Berkeley Living-Learning survey initiated in Spring 2002 to assess the effect of residential programs.
- This site is an institution-wide process for assessment providing overarching assessment methods and guidelines along with a draft policy for undertaking assessment.
- This is the homepage with extensive links to their work; including a fun, monthly survey that they do, keeping parents energized about the work the office has done.
- This is the website for student affairs research at UNC-Charlotte. It includes information about assessment programs at that institution, but also includes links for student affairs research across the nation. A helpful feature of this website is that they update regularly, so most of the links work and the information are relatively current.