Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Quality Improvement
Below are answers to some of the most common questions the Office of Academic Assessment is asked:
1. What is assessment?
- Assessment is “the systematic collection of information about student learning, using the time, knowledge, expertise, and resources available, in order to inform decisions about how to improve learning” (Walvoord, 2004).
2. What is the difference between research and assessment?
- Research is a systematic process of gathering, analyzing, and using information from multiple sources to draw inferences and test hypothesis in order to discover, establish fact, or revise accepted theories or laws.
- Assessment is ‘action’ research with a primary purpose of improving practice, as opposed to generating theoretical knowledge.
3. What is the difference between grading and assessment?
- The goal of grading is to evaluate individual students’ performance based on specified criteria.
- Assessment goes beyond grading by systematically examining patterns of student learning across courses and programs for overall improvement.
4. What are the benefits of assessment?
- Assessment allows for evidence-based decision making about curriculum, pedagogy, advising, and student support.
- At the program level, assessment provides program faculty evidence that allows them to improve program outcomes.
- At the course level, assessment helps instructors to evaluate whether students achieved the identified course objectives and provides information to improve the course.
- Assessment data can be used for other purposes such as annual reviews.
- Assessment is a part of the comprehensive standards required for SACSCOC. accreditation, as well as for many other specialized accreditations.
5. What is the difference between Academic Assessment Reports and Academic Program Review?
- Academic Assessment Reports are used to assess student learning. Academic Program Reviews are used to assess the program.
6. When are Academic Assessment Reports due?
- Annually on October 1st, using the PDF fillable form
7. How many Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) and Program Outcomes (PO) does each program need?
- A minimum of 5 SLOs and 2 POs
8. Are program or CORE assessment results used to evaluate individual faculty?
- No, results are aggregated across program or CORE goal.
9. Is there a difference in the quantity or quality of student evaluations of faculty (SEF) between the paper and electronic methods?
- No, extensive analysis during four semesters of electronic course evaluation piloting shows there is no difference in either the quantity or quality of student evaluations of faculty methods.
10. Are assessment results used to evaluate individual faculty members?
- Assessment of student learning is conducted to determine what faculty as a whole can do to improve students’ learning in their programs (Walvoord, 2004).
- It is not about individual faculty members and should not be used to evaluate an individual faculty member.
- Should there be any evidence of inadequate student learning, faculty members in the department should collectively take appropriate actions to address the issues and make improvements.