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Assessment

I. Student Learning Assessment

A. Policy

The faculty of instructional units engages in student learning assessment for each degree and certificate offered in a systematic and cyclical fashion. The administrator for each unit is responsible for the timely completion of all forms associated with the student learning assessment and compliance with due dates as announced by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Assessment. The department administrator may designate a faculty member to submit the plan(s) to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning’s web-based reporting system (often the chair of the departmental assessment committee), but the administrator is primarily responsible for ensuring that the submission is made. Ultimately, the Vice-President or Chief Administrative Officer of each major division is responsible for ensuring that all assessment materials in his/her major division are completed.

B. Procedures

Cycle

Information about the assessment cycle, deadlines and timelines, can be found on the www.spsu.edu/irpa/planning.htm website.  Assessment cycles generally follow the pattern of the academic year for academic degree programs and for curriculum assessment. That is, plans are usually due in late August or early September, once faculty, chairs, and deans have had time to design and review them.  Results, including information about student scores on direct methods of assessment, are due after the spring semester ends.

The use of results of Student Learning Assessment reports are compiled throughout the year. That is, the chair usually completes the section on the use of results report in which he/she is asked to anticipate how the results will be used, in late May or early June.  Then, as assessment-related meetings are held during the year and decisions about student learning assessment are made, the chair summarizes how the faculty and he/she actually agreed to use the results. Updating the report can be done at any time during the year.
Because it takes a year to collect data and at least one succeeding year to analyze it, implement changes, and evaluate the consequences of the changes, an assessment cycle generally takes a minimum of two years to complete.

Assessment plans, results, and use of results are reviewed by several entities. First, the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning reviews and gives feedback. Then, the supervisor(s) above the people in each unit submitting a unit plan, an academic program plan, or a core curriculum assessment plan reviews the materials. Then, plans are reviewed for clarity, appropriateness, and completion by the appropriate assessment committee.

Process

The following general procedure is used by all academic units in assessing the effectiveness of their academic programs and whether student learning outcomes have been met.

  • Step 1: Each academic department generates a Program Outcomes Table for each academic program at the undergraduate and graduate level. The table includes a list of program outcomes, as well as the courses where the outcome is met, and what the criterion is for successful completion.
  • Step 2: After the student learning assessment plan is written, results are compiled at the end of the academic year and recorded in the Program Results table.
  • Step 3: The results are then reviewed and assessed by the chair and the faculty, and necessary improvements are identified. These are summarized in the Use of Results Report.

 

II. Unit Planning and Assessment

All educational units engage in an annual planning and assessment process. The educational units set goals and outcomes which usually relate to initiatives involving faculty, students, community outreach, and program development enhancement.  The faculty of instructional units engages in student learning assessment for each degree and certificate offered in a systematic and cyclical fashion. The administrator for each unit is responsible for the timely completion of all forms associated with the student learning assessment and compliance with due dates as announced by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Assessment. The department administrator may designate a faculty member to submit the plan(s) to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning’s web-based reporting system (often the chair of the departmental assessment committee), but the administrator is primarily responsible for ensuring that the submission is made. Ultimately, the Vice-President or Chief Administrative Officer of each major division is responsible for ensuring that all assessment materials in his/her major division are completed.

 

Each unit’s evaluation plan consists of multiple elements grouped into four main parts: elements of strategic planning, assessing, analyzing, and improving. The elements involved in each part are described in detail below.

(a.) Elements of Strategic Planning

A vision statement is a memorable one- or two-sentence description of what a unit will look like if it succeeds in achieving its full potential.

A mission statement is very broad and usually brief. It describes the essential reason(s) for the unit’s existence. It provides a declaration of intentions, hopes and expectations. A good mission statement crystallizes and focuses the purpose, vision, and direction of the unit. Essentially, it communicates what the unit does, and how and why the unit does it, to both the people working within and those outside of the unit.

Every unit should play a part in the successful attainment of the University’s goals and intended outcomes/objectives as well as those of the unit above. In order to ensure this unity of purpose, strategic alignment must take place. Strategic alignment occurs when the mission and goals of the unit contribute to the achievement or fulfillment of the university’s or the supervisory unit’s mission and goals. In this way, every unit, college, and department is working toward fulfilling not only their own vision and mission, but those of their supervisory unit and the university at large as well.

Goals are broad statements that describe what the department or unit wants to accomplish or maintain over the next several years. They state long-term targets or directions of development in general terms.

Goals, which are logically associated with the fulfillment of the unit mission, provide the basis for the decisions about the nature, scope, and relative priorities of various activities in a department or unit. They are used in planning and should help move the unit toward attaining the vision.

Intended outcomes/objectives are brief, clear statements that describe the tasks or projects that must be undertaken or a condition that must be met in order to accomplish a goal.

Action or tactical steps are specific actions and deeds used to achieve intended outcomes/objectives; they keep the unit moving toward the fulfillment of intended outcomes/objectives. While documenting tactical steps is often a necessary step in clarifying a unit’s planned path to fulfilling particular a goal, the degree to which they are documented should be decided by each unit. If a unit’s faculty or staff determine that specificity and clarity are obvious without listing all of tactical steps, this section can be streamlined.

Assessment

In order to gauge the effectiveness of each unit’s performance and ensure that its mission is achieved, the progress made towards goals and intended outcomes/objectives must be periodically evaluated. Therefore, each unit must measure outcomes/objectives listed in its evaluation plan.

Measures are the methods or processes used to evaluate the unit’s performance in context of an intended outcome/objective. These can be thought of as the tools a unit uses to determine its level of performance on a particular intended outcome/objective.

Performance criteria or targets for success are the standards or target levels the unit hopes to reach. Criteria will be specific to the type of intended outcome/objective and measure, from numeric values of success to documentation of completion of a task.

Analysis

For assessment to be worth the necessary effort, the information and knowledge gained must be shared and used. After implementing assessment measures, faculty and/or staff analyze the data, review the results, and make changes toward improvement as needed.

The results and analysis section addresses each measure implemented in a given year, condensing the resulting data into usable summaries, developing conclusions, reporting the findings, and taking action on the information. Also, dates when faculty and/or staff met to discuss the assessment results and to plan for improvement should be listed; this allows the demonstration of collaboration towards improvement within a unit.

Improvement

The use of results section contains information on all improvements or adjustments by the unit stemming from any of the processes associated with or performance documented during the previous evaluation cycle. A unit should include information on improved unit operations or performance as well as developments associated with the planning and evaluation process itself.

B. Procedures

Information about the assessment cycle, including timelines and deadlines, can be found on the www.spsu.edu/irpa/planning.htm website.

The cycle for unit assessment usually follows the pattern of the academic year. That is, those in units and departments design the plans in early September, record results throughout the year, and compile results by the end of the academic year.

Reviews

Assessment plan, results, and use of results are reviewed by several entities. First, the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning reviews and gives feedback. Then, the supervisor(s) above the people in each unit submitting a unit plan, an academic program plan, or a core curriculum assessment plan reviews the materials. Then, plans are reviewed for clarity, appropriateness, and completion by the appropriate assessment committee.

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