All academic, administrative, and educational support units should include in assessment plans demographic information and mission statements specific to their program or unit.
Step 1 – Define the student learning outcomes and operational goals and objectives for the department or program.
Goals and outcomes should be linked to and supportive of the university's mission and one or more of the university’s strategic goals. These administrative objectives may be “process oriented” objectives or may be “outcomes oriented.” Process oriented objectives delineate functions, services or processes that the administrative unit wants to improve. “Outcomes oriented” objectives focus on outcomes for the student after having received services by the administrative unit or could relate directly to student learning-what a student thinks, knows, feels, or is able to do as a result of an educational experience. Process oriented objectives will often describe the level or volume of the unit’s activities, e.g. the number of students served. An outcomes oriented objective would describe what a student can do after receiving the services of the unit. e.g. complete a resume on-line. In the development of administrative unit objectives, it is important to write objectives that reflect what the faculty and staff value and believe it is important to accomplish.
The number of administrative objectives should be three to five in number. The identification of more than three to five objectives simply becomes too unwieldy to measure and manage. The assessment efforts of the unit and ultimately of the entire university will cease if these efforts are buried under a mountain of paper. As administrative objectives are assessed and results used to improve unit performance, new objectives can be identified and can replace existing ones. It may seem obvious, but is also important in developing a unit assessment plan to “just begin”. At times the desire to develop the “perfect” assessment plan results in the implementation of no assessment activities. Remembering that the overall purpose of assessment is improvement, it is not unreasonable to expect improvement in the plans and assessment activities themselves.
Step 2 – Identify and describe the means of assessment.
There is no single best way to measure objectives. The methods of assessment chosen should be those that best answer the unit’s questions. Methods of assessment may include but are certainly not limited to: indirect measures such as undergraduate and graduate student surveys, alumni surveys, employer surveys; and direct measures such as tests, portfolios, scoring rubrics, counts or unit activities, response times and the use of external evaluators. Every effort should be made to use at least two different methods of assessment. Assessment methods should be measurable.
Step 3 – Criteria for Success (Action Plan)
Criteria for intended objectives need to be set that establish a reasonable level of service improvement given resources and current personnel. The criterion should not be so low as to not show improvement nor so high that it is unattainable given current resources.
Step 4 – Data Collection/Results of Program Outcomes
The assessment report must identify the methods of assessment and how frequently and from whom the assessment information is obtained. Some assessment methods may be done annually, others may be done less frequently. In addition, some assessment results may be obtained from a sample of students/services while in others cases all students/services are assessed.
Step 5 – Use of the Results to Improve Instructional Programs and Services
The importance of “closing of the feedback loop” can not be over emphasized. It is imperative that the results of assessment be used to inform and improve the functions and services of the academic, administrative or educational support unit. If the results of assessment consistently indicate that the unit needs no improvement, it is suggested that the unit either raise the criterion or look for new objectives. Again, an important purpose of institutional effectiveness planning is program improvement.
Step 6 – Assessment Plan/Report Templates
FY'15 Assessment Presentation