What is Assessment?
Assessment is a continuous process aimed at understanding and improving institutional, program level and classroom level achievement. It involves:
- Making expectations of student learning explicit and public through the use of learning outcomes at the institutional, program and course level;
- Setting appropriate criteria and high expectations 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.
Assessment affirms those things that are going well and helps identify what is not going well. Assessment can point to the specific changes that might be needed at a program or course level to improve student learning and achievement.
While assessment can include tracking metrics associated with student progress towards degree (graduation rates, retention rates, degrees granted, etc), the annual assessment process asks departments to engage in assessment of student learning of program learning outcomes (PLOs) by evaluating student work from classes that are linked to specific PLOs.
Meaningful assessment should involve:
- a way to collaboratively have program faculty actively involved in defining the knowledge, skills and attitudes that you want students to have when they complete a degree (both undergraduate and graduate degrees, minors and certificates).
- a review of student work to provide evidence about whether or not students are reaching the learning outcomes of the degree program.
- a determination of what changes, if any, the program might want to make once they have reviewed the evidence of student learning.
The end goal is to create a coherent curriculum that supports student success as they move through their degree to graduation.
Annual Assessment Reports
The Division of Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning, in collaboration with the University Academic Assessment Advisory Committee (UAAAC), has implemented an approach to annual assessment that is meaningful to departments, schools and programs and fulfill requirements of our Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC) regional accreditors and the Chancellor’s office.
Departments are expected to engage in one of several assessment activities each year, for each degree program offered, and to report on that assessment activity by sending reports in April to the Division of Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning. Departments can use one of the provided report templates, or they can use an existing report format if one is already in use by the department.
In the following academic year, a subset of the reports submitted in April are reviewed by UAAAC and feedback provided to help departments improve their assessment activity.