April 1, 2000
TO: President Donald Wharton
FROM: The Assessment Task Force: W. Fogleman (Chair), W. Benoit, I. Cucina, J. Kulig, C. LeBlanc, M. McNeil, C. Moniz, D. Moore, L. Reitsma.
SUBJECT: Recommendations regarding PSC assessment program.
The Assessment Task Force met throughout the spring and fall of 1999 working on Goal XI of the PSC Strategic Plan. Past and current PSC assessment practices were inventoried by looking at the collected data collected by Dr. Fogleman when he was Coordinator of General Education Assessment and by querying academic departments and related divisions in Speare. The best practices in assessment were considered by reviewing the literature and by attendance at the NEASC workshop on assessment held at PSC in March 1999. A bibliography of data and references available in the Assessment File Cabinet in Boyd 102 has been made available via the intranet. Evidence on what comparable institutions to PSC are doing relative to assessment was gathered from seven schools on our official list of comparative institutions. A survey was sent to faculty to identify specific learning objectives they felt should be assessed. The results of all these efforts are collected in the Assessment File Cabinet in Boyd 102.
The January, 1992 Policy Statement on Institutional Effectiveness of NEASC clearly mandates that assessment activities are needed to measure the effectiveness of institutions. In the March, 1999 workshop, Dr. Peggy Maki emphasized that the kinds of assessment needed should follow the Principles of Good Practice developed by the AAHE Assessment Forum in 1992, to wit:
The NEASC Policy Statement further emphasizes, “…assessment efforts will be … comprehensive, systematic, integrative, and organic …. both qualitative and quantitative.” Dr. Maki also made it clear that direct kinds of assessment of learning will be expected along with indirect types such as satisfaction or opinion surveys. Ultimately, NEASC expects that information gleaned from assessment activities will be used in the decision-making processes and that that can be demonstrated.
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 attempt to suggest such a structure. 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 is the rather severe budget limitations under which PSC operates. However, if assessment is to be done, some resources will be needed to support it. Whether this entails another administrative office or release time for one or more faculty, the budget will be affected. Greater faculty involvement requires more "volunteer" committee time and may translate into less time 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 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, working in coordination with the Long Range Planning Committee, 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 states, "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 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.
Plymouth State University,
17 High Street, Plymouth, NH 03264-1595. Main Switchboard: (603) 535-5000.
A member of the University System of New Hampshire. ©2005-2008. All rights reserved.
This page was last revised: 12/4/2003