External Representation of Institutional Memory
Valuable information can be lost as members of the department change roles, go on sabbatical, move to another university, retire or simply not recall the challenges, successes, etc. that have occurred through the assessment process. Assessment plans and reports document these processes for future members and leaders of the department.
Shared Departmental Visions
An assessmentreport allows all departmental members to share an understanding of the department’s assessment vision. Faculty can post questions and comments regarding the plan from an informed standpoint, and are aware of how their courses and educational practices fit in with the rest of the curriculum.
Resource for New and Adjunct Faculty
An assessment report is an efficient means of communicating a department's assessment activities and educational practices to new and adjunct faculty.These faculty need not wait for a committee meeting nor rely on piecemeal information which may leave them with an incomplete or inaccurate depiction of the department's assessment activities.
Sharing Best Practices
Departments can share their assessment plans and reports with each other and, in doing so, share successful approaches to assessment, creative solutions to overcoming obstacles to assessment, innovative changes made to curriculum and instruction to improve student learning, etc.
Annual assessment reports demonstrates to accrediting and funding agencies, parents, students and others that the department has thought through the assessment process and is committed to assessing student learning and to improving the teaching and learning process in the school or department. Assessment reports document evidence of student learning as well as the improvements that have been made to educational opportunities.
While grades are a valuable source of information, they are focused on individual student performance on a particular assignment/test or course, not on the performance of all students or the program as a whole. In addition, grading varies from one instructor to the next, is influenced by many factors like class participation, and does not illuminate strengths and weaknesses of the program.
Course grades, assignment grades, GPAs, and overall grade distributions are not acceptable forms of evidence for program-level assessment without clear evidence that the SAME criteria were employed for all students for all grades. This is rare for most programs, as course requirements and grading procedures vary by faculty member, course section, etc.
Program review is the annual process that measures a range of mission-related program inputs, and is not directly related to student learning. Student learning outcomes assessment directly measures whether students have the knowledge, skills and abilities expected by the program.
Direct measures of student learning are based on observable student performance (e.g. exams, capstone projects, theses). Indirect measures are based on perception of student learning (e.g. surveys, job placement rates).
No! Student learning outcomes assessment is in no way tied to faculty performance evaluation.
Absolutely not. Academic freedom states that faculty are free to teach and discuss their subject as they please. For the purposes of learning outcomes assessment, the program would only need to agree upon a common criteria for evaluating a specific student product used to evidence learning (e.g., clarifying what differentiates work that exceeds, meets or falls below standards).
Submit an assessment report that:
- Describes progress on your annual assessment;
- Details the steps you will take to complete your annual assessment; and
- Includes a timeline.
If the assessment plan failed due to biased or incomplete data, etc., submit an assessment report that:
- Describes progress on your annual assessment; and
- Details changes that will be made to your assessment plan in the following annual cycle; and
- Includes a timeline.