An Assessment Primer
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About This Presentation
• After reviewing this presentation, you will have
been introduced to the following topics:
– The purpose and composition of the Quality Through
Assessment workgroup at Penn College.
– A definition of assessment developed by Penn College.
– A definition of “good” assessment developed by Middle States.
– The assessment cycle.
– The two “levels” of assessment: institutional assessment and
student learning outcomes assessment.
– The interaction between assessments at the institutional,
program, and course levels.
– Resources for further understanding of assessment.
• Show how the College mission is being accomplished by
examining the existing processes and elements of
assessment across the campus.
• Facilitate the accreditation/certification/endorsement
efforts of the College and its programs.
• Review statistical reports, surveys, and program reviews;
look for changes and trends.
• Communicate assessment efforts and needs to the
• Collect and share useful information about student
learning and institutional effectiveness.
Defining “Assessment” at Penn College
Assessment at Penn College is defined as an open process that
encompasses the following principles:
• It is mission-focused, at both the institutional and programmatic
• It is systematic, iterative, collaborative, documented, and adaptable;
• It applies multiple measures, both qualitative and quantitative;
• It identifies strengths and areas that warrant improvement;
• It informs planning and decision-making for the purpose of
ascertaining learning and development, thereby improving
programs, services, functions, performance, and the overall
value of the educational experience.
Recommendations from 2006-07
In preparation for the Middle States self-study that
will begin in 2010, the QTA recommended that the
College community begin to:
• Assess its Philosophy, Mission, Vision statements;
• Review institution-wide planning, including its
connectivity to budgeting, institutional
effectiveness, and outcomes assessment.
These items are now institutional initiatives.
What is “good” assessment?
From Linda Suskie, Middle States Commission
“What is ‘Good’ Assessment? A Variety of Perspectives”
• Good assessment is…
– Focused on & driven by goals: One function of assessment is to
determine whether or not the goals set by an institution,
program, or course are being met.
– Valued by stakeholders: Stakeholders include faculty, staff,
students, parents, administration, and potential employers.
– Used by all to improve student learning: Faculty, staff, and
administration do not make decisions based on assumptions.
Rather, they make observations in order to make informed
decisions. “Assessment” is, in part, a formal record of these
– Reasonably valid and reliable: Assessment is “action research;”
due to the complexity of the college experience, we must keep in
mind possible confounding variables when making decisions
while we strive for accuracy and depth.
The Assessment “Cycle”
Step 1: If not already stated, identify the goals.
Think about “indicators of success” for the goals.
Specifically, what would success look like?
Step 6. Were the changes effective?
Step 2: Choose one of the goals and
How do you know? Use these
determine how to measure it.
questions to begin the cycle again.
Step 5: Use the information from
Step 3. Conduct measurement via
your assessment to make
exam, survey, focus group, interview,
decisions. Share your decisions
with the appropriate stakeholders. or another meaningful tactic.
Step 4: Interpret the results. Are changes needed ?
Are goals being met? Are more resources needed?
Suitable Assessment Tools
• One size does not fit all! Differences between
programs and courses beget a variety of tools.
Here is a sampling of available methods:
– Classroom assignments and exams, quizzes, projects,
lab evaluations, and the like;
– In-person focus groups with students, graduates,
advisory boards, employers, and other stakeholders;
– Surveys and questionnaires;
– Third-party reviews, such as for accreditation;
– Reports from Institutional Research.
“Levels” of Assessment
Institutional Assessment Assessment of Student Learning
(Middle States Standard 7) (Middle States Standard 14)
“The institution has developed and “Assessment of student learning
implemented an assessment process that demonstrates that, at graduation, or
evaluates its overall effectiveness in other appropriate points, the institution’s
achieving its mission and goals and its students have knowledge, skills, and
compliance with accreditation standards.” competencies consistent with institutional
and appropriate higher education goals.”
Planning, Budgeting, Renewal Admissions & Retention
Institutional Resources Student Support Services
Leadership & Governance Faculty & Educational Offerings
Administration General Education
Integrity Related Educational Activities
The Relationship Between the
Levels of Assessment
All that the College does is guided by its mission.
College mission That mission is fulfilled by the academic programs at the College
and the array of student support services that we offer.
Therefore, the goals set forth by academic and support programs
Academic & Support are derived from the College mission.
Programs’ Goals To determine whether the College mission (overall) is being met,
the questions are posed: “Are our programs meeting their goals?
How do we know?”
Goals of individual Because academic and support programs are composed of
courses and services. courses and services, we then ask, “Are the courses and services
meeting their goals? How do we know?”
The success of the College mission is thus measured by compiling the assessment
of the courses and services that are derived from the mission.
• Visit the QTA website:
– URL: http://www.pct.edu/assessment
– There, you will find the IR tools that are available for your use.
• Please post your questions or give us feedback:
• Keep watching for future announcements!