Assessment System Planning
Beginning fall 2008, UMD began a concerted effort to systematize assessment activities from across the campus. Following the site visit in March, 2008, the Higher Learning Commission gave UMD a “nudge” to better articulate how we are assessing our efforts to prepare our graduates. The team wrote that “there is little understanding of the many ways in which assessment can be embedded or integral to existing education processes; there is no university-wide leadership for assessment, and no university-wide processes (such as an assessment committee) for organizing and analyzing assessment data and tracking learning improvements.” In lieu of a scheduled focus visit in four years, UMD applied and was accepted to the HLC Academy for the Assessment of Student Learning, which will provide guidance and structure to the development of a campus assessment plan.
On November 5-7, six members of the UMD Council for Advancement of Student Learning (CASL), and Vice Chancellor Magnuson, attended the kickoff Academy workshop. Over three days, the team crafted a plan for our project, the development of a campus system, which was then refined by the full CASL membership. (Timeline for implementation) At the Roundtable, mentors took the team through a process that began with our stating the needs of our campus related to assessment of student learning:
- An institutional culture based on student learning. (The goal of CASL is that the work we do should stay focused on the existing UMD faculty and staff commitment to student learning rather than on assessment for accountability purposes).
- Well-articulated institutional and program student learning outcomes.
- A system of effective assessment practices for measuring program and institutional outcomes.
Next, the team defined the outcomes for the project to include:
- A timeline for collection of outcomes and assessment plans
- A training plan that correlates with aspects of plan development (e.g., writing outcomes, mapping, writing rubrics, etc.)
- A communication plan that clearly defines the project
- Measurable institutional outcomes
- Measurable outcomes for each program
- Curriculum maps that indicate where (within required courses) each program outcome is taught, as well as what university outcomes are taught in each course
- Assessments (and where/when they take place) that measure each outcome
- Rubrics as needed
- A system that documents that university outcomes are being taught and/or measured either at the program level or in general education
Next, CASL developed the timeline for implementing the campus system. Forms that will be used to collect information from programs are linked within the timeline. Over the next two years and beyond, we will collect:
- Institutional and program outcomes
- Curriculum maps
- Assessment plans, including data collection cycles
- Annual reports from programs/functions/units
CASL will continue to evolve and define its role in the process over time. Initially,
- CASL will provide support and guidance to programs as each set of evidence is collected
- CASL will gather and develop materials, make resources available, and facilitate training.
- CASL will review annual reports to ensure that the program/function is collecting/analyzing data according to their plan, and action is documented.
- CASL will analyze reports and report up.
The assessment web site will be used to track and monitor progress of all programs, as well as to provide a venue for transparency and sharing across campus.