Provost & Academic Vice President
Philosophy of Assessment of Student Learning
We believe that the University should have a reliable means to help assure the quality of education through the evaluation of individual student learning. The assessment of "student outcomes" can contribute meaningfully to this effort when it is based upon the principles which follow. It must be remembered, however, that "student outcomes" assessment is only one possible source of evidence of institutional and program quality.
- Diversity of purpose and programs is one of the strengths of American higher education. The University and its individual programs should identify the indicators of quality that are appropriate to the particular mission and goals of each as consistent with external standards and objectives.
- Student outcomes assessments should focus on the description of student learning as well as on the improvement of learning and performance over time. This learning should be defined by means of assessment measures at various stages of the academic program. Such assignments can benefit student learning: they can permit the University to advise students of their progress and, if necessary, prescribe further work; and they can define the minimal levels of competence prior to progress to more advanced stages of education.
- Methods for evaluation and assessment should be the responsibility of the faculty. The consent of those expected to devise, execute, and utilize assessment is essential. Further, faculty members have experience in evaluating students and have developed various effective means for doing so.
- The University and its individual programs should use multiple methods of assessment for improving learning and teaching and for demonstrating achievement. No single mechanism can effectively evaluate the subtleties and complexities of a college education, or even of an education in a single major. Because assessment tools should be based on reliable research and proven practice, assessment plans should avoid hasty and simplistic mechanisms and conclusions.
- An effective assessment process will require resources. Nevertheless, requirements for assessment should avoid imposing high costs on the University and individual programs in terms of funding or of workload. Whenever possible, existing information and evaluation procedures should be used. The support and improvement of existing academic programs should not be jeopardized through the loss of funds and personnel reallocated to assessment.
The assessment process should be linked to strategic planning and program review in order to encourage change and improvement. Since the goal of assessment is the improvement of education, rather than simply its evaluation, the results of assessment should be closely connected with the ongoing process of curricular review that already exists at the University.
Approved: Faculty Senate - April 28, 2009