December 1, 1999
Report to the Faculty from the Assessment Task Force
Pursuant to the mandate by the PSC Strategic Plan, Goal XI.A.5, to wit, "develop and recommend an administrative structure for operations of the assessment program," this report is our initial attempt to suggest such a structure. It is our hope that the faculty will give this suggested structure some thought during the remainder of December and also January and give feedback to the Task Force. We realize that there are many effective models for administering assessment because we have surveyed a number of them from comparable institutions. The hard part about making a recommendation to you is that PSC operates under rather severe budget limitations. In many departments there is a feeling that there are not enough faculty lines to do our job right. Some would say there is a top-heavy administration. However, if assessment is to be done, some resources will be needed to support it. Whether this is to entail another administrative office or release time for one or more faculty, the budget will be affected and the greater is faculty involvement, the more "volunteer" committee time we must give and the less time we have for our students. If we had a multimillion-dollar endowment, we could easily make recommendations knowing that resources would be there to fulfill them. Alas that is not the case, so out of whose "hide" will the resources come? We will have to wait and see.
Here is our first suggested administrative structure:
1. Assign responsibility for assuring that outcomes assessment is carried out to the office of the Dean of the College or Associate Dean.
2. Create an Assessment Committee composed of faculty, appropriate administrators (e.g. Dean of the College, Registrar), and students. This group would have the role of overseeing all campus-wide assessment projects. They would decide on such matters as 1) the college goals to be assessed in any given year, 2) the method(s) to be used in such assessment, and 3) how the assessment would be integrated into the academic calendar. They would also disseminate reports to appropriate groups on the results of assessments. Such reports would include raw data, some interpretation and probably suggestions for changes in our academic process. The actual administration of assessment instruments (if any) would be handled by personnel from the Dean's Office. Proper operation of the assessment process would have the dual roles of providing input for our continuous quality improvement process and also providing evidence to our accrediting agency of our dedication to such a process.
3. Departments would be expected to carry out assessment of the outcomes of their programs as a part of the existing program review process. That is, assessment should be ongoing in departments so that adequate data will be available when the program review takes place every six years. Departments would have full flexibility to decide what types of assessment methods are most appropriate for their programs, remembering that assessment is best done by multiple methods rather with than a single instrument. They should be able to depend upon the Assessment Committee and administrative institutional research people for assistance and guidance as necessary in planning and carrying out their assessment projects.
As an addendum to this recommended administrative structure, the Task Force did realize that Item D of Goal XI, does state that "The President shall consider the feasibility of establishing and institutional research office to support the college-wide assessment effort." Task Force members are nearly unanimous (completely?) in the view that the college needs better preparation and coordination of institutional research. In the long run that probably means establishment of an Office of Institutional Research.
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