|HLC site visit: How are we doing on assessment of student learning?|
On April 7-8, two site visitors will be on campus to evaluate progress made at the University on assessment of student learning. This will be a mandated follow-up to the fall 2003 accreditation site visit from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association.
Here is a sampling of the kind of information site visitors will find about the work of the University Assessment Committee, the General Education Requirements Committee, and academic departments. To read the two-page summary document from which this was excerpted (“How are we doing on assessment of student learning?”), please go to the web site < www.und.edu/org/hlc/hlc_update.pdf>.
Improvements in Committee Oversight
UND committees, especially the University Assessment Committee (UAC) and the General Education Requirements Committee (GERC), have implemented policies and procedures to support quality assessment efforts. Among the accomplishments of the UAC are the following:
• A recently developed (2006) assessment plan is posted on the UAC web site, and that plan is now under revision to reflect changes occurring in the general education program.
• Resources to aid departments in developing and carrying out assessment plans are available on the UAC web site.
• Assessment plans are posted for degree programs and other units with responsibility for student learning and development on the UAC web site.
• The annual reports for all departments and other units with responsibility for student learning and development are now expected to include details about assessment activities and findings.
• The assessment sections of annual reports are reviewed by UAC members on a cyclical basis (1/3 of academic departments per year, 1/3 of relevant non-academic departments per year), information is collected for institutional use, and results of the review are sent back to the department with comments about means of improving assessment activities in the future.
Members of the GERC expect to see assessment findings reported as part of every course revalidation, including comments about any loop-closing activities that may grow out of those findings. In addition, several major studies of general education outcomes have been completed, and findings from those studies affected decisions about the new Essential Studies program.
Improvements at the department level
The core of assessment of student learning activities occurs at the departmental level. Almost 100 percent of all degree-granting programs and many non-degree-granting programs and non-academic units at UND now have assessment plans posted on the University web site. Many of those plans are in a second or third iteration, with the department having learned from attempting to implement a first version that changes in the goals or assessment methods were desirable.
Significant percentages (varying by college, by type of program, and by level of program) have reported results, findings, and/or loop-closing activities. Many additional programs should reach that loop-closing stage within the next couple of years. In every college, a number of different and significant loop-closing activities have been reported.
These findings do not signify total success, but total success is a moving target and takes time to achieve. However, they do signify that more programs, more departments, and more faculty and staff are
• recognizing the need to pay attention to what students are learning, as well as what the faculty member intends to teach;
• recognizing the need to collect and review information systematically;
• achieving some benefits from assessment that demonstrate the value, in terms of student learning, of conducting assessment.
-- Joan Hawthorne, Assistant Provost, VPAA/Provost, firstname.lastname@example.org, 7-4684