Academic Assessment

An ad hoc Assessment Planning Committee was created in 2005* to initiate the development of a plan for the assessment of student learning. The resulting plan was approved by the faculty in 2006. The process consists of several elements, each of which involves the participation of faculty.

At the beginning of the academic year each department should have a conversation about goals and assessment, informed by the previous year's final summary report. During this meeting the department should clarify the focus of department assessment and how the department will carry out its plan for the year.

At the end of the year, each department is charged with holding a discussion, ideally after the conclusion of Honors exams. The goal of this meeting is to discuss the results of the previous year's assessment activities — both formal and not — and determine how to use this information to improve student learning. Chairs must submit a report to the Provost by June 15. The report is discussed as part of the annual meeting between the chair, the Provost, and the President the following fall.

Academic departments and programs have additional goals that are not directly related to student learning. For example, there may be goals related to the demographic mix of students in the discipline, or about scholarly or creative productivity for faculty, etc. These ought to be articulated and addressed as appropriate.

Also as a part of the assessment plan, every faculty member must conduct student course evaluations for at least one course each year. Some course evaluation questions should be common to all of the department's courses or seminars, consistent with the goals that the department has set for assessment for the year. Other questions may be specific to the course, focusing on particular areas of curriculum and pedagogy about which the faculty member wants to know more. The completed course evaluations will be read and discussed by the faculty member and the department chair.

A final component of the assessment plan was the reinstatement of external reviews of academic departments. (A regular review process for interdisciplinary programs was already in place.)

Academic Assessment Plan2006 document [pdf]

Academic Assessment Committee 2011–12Recommended Changes to Academic Assessment Plan [pdf]

*In 2009 the Committee on Faculty Procedures established a standing Academic Assessment Committee. It is currently co-chaired by Associate Provost David Harrison and Director of Institutional Research and Assessment Robin Huntington Shores.