Department Assessment

The college assessment plan asks chairs to coordinate regular assessments within their departments. Each department should articulate its goals and objectives for student learning as the foundation for this work.

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.  Each department should review the feedback from the Provost's Office about the previous year's report, and incorporate the suggestions into its work for the current year.

Guidelines for end-of-year meetings

The assessment plan for the academic program calls for each academic department to hold an annual meeting at the end of the spring semester. These meetings provide an opportunity for departments to:

  • Review and revise curricular goals for the program of the department and individual courses
  • Consider the progress of students towards meeting these goals and the effectiveness of the department's program
  • Review assessment activities concluded over the past year and reflect on what has been learned
  • Plan for assessment activities to be conducted in the following academic year.

Ideally, these discussions should take place after Honors orals and comprehensive exercises are completed so that data from these experiences can enlighten the department's consideration of student learning and performance. Ultimately, the department can determine what materials to use as input for its reflections. To make the meeting most useful the department should have articulated learning goals for its majors, minors and individual courses prior to the meeting.

In a given year, departments may choose to consider student performance in their program in general, or to focus on individual components of the program, such as introductory courses or Honors seminars. A component of the discussion should derive from the results of recently administered course evaluations, the results of which will be summarized, in general terms only, by the Chair.

Chair's end-of-year report

Following the end-of-year meeting the Chair will prepare a written report for the Provost that summarizes the departmental discussion and any actions that the department will take. This report, limited to 3 single-spaced pages, provides an opportunity to summarize assessment results, the department's conclusions and highlight any needs or issues that arose from the discussion. The following questions should be addressed in the report:

  • What goals or objectives have you assessed this year?
  • How did you do it?  Be sure to describe at least one example of direct assessment.   Attach any materials (for example, rubrics or instruments) used in collecting or analyzing evidence of student learning.
  • What did you find? (Please do not include materials or records reflecting individual students.)
  • What changes will you make as a result of this work?
  • What plans have you made for assessment during the coming academic year?
  • What topics and courses did you cover in your course evaluations, and what were the nature and implications of your findings?
  • What other issues were discussed by the department?

Under normal circumstances, the Chair's report should be submitted to the Provost no later than June 15. The report is discussed as part of the annual meeting between the chair, the Provost, and the President the following fall, and can serve as a reference point for future department activities and needs.