> Principles of Assessment
Principles of Assessment
Purpose of assessment - Assessment is about our collective commitment to institutional goals and values, self-examination and continuous improvement of teaching and learning processes.
Institutional commitment - The Dowling College community is committed to using institutional and academic forms of assessment as tools that encourage open, voluntary self-inquiry, promote innovation and experimentation in assessment methods, and support our efforts to become more reflective professionals. Assessment is linked to the core institutional values and goals of collective responsibility and professionalism.
Gradualism and focus - It is preferable to move gradually into the field of assessment by focusing on a few, high-priority goals and pilot programs that are of demonstrable value to faculty, staff, and students. Building gradually upon successes is the most effective way to integrate institutional assessment activities into the culture of the College. Acting on this principle will ensure that implementation timelines are reasonable in relation to the other demands upon faculty and administrative time.
Coordination - A comprehensive assessment program requires the coordination of program activities at multiple levels of the institution. The advancement and implementation of the institutional assessment at Dowling College is the responsibility of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. The design, coordination, and advancement of academic assessment are functions of the Academic Assessment and Research Committee of the Dowling College. The Director of Academic Assessment provides technical assistance to the AARC in the matters of academic assessment.
Faculty "ownership" - The involvement of members of the faculty and the faculty governance structure are critical to the success of the institution's assessment program. The concept of faculty "ownership", as used by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, implies endorsement and support of a comprehensive institutional assessment plan, as well as active and engaged participation in those portions of the plan that relate to student learning outcomes. Wide participation by other segments of the College community (students, staff, trustees) is also essential for the broader assessment of institutional effectiveness.
Primacy of student learning outcomes - The process of enhancing the knowledge, skills, abilities and values of our students is at the core of the College's mission, and student outcomes are a priority in the development of a systematic assessment program.
Holistic view of student outcomes - A comprehensive assessment of student learning outcomes includes behaviors observed in activities that occur out of the classroom as well as in.
Separation of assessment results from performance self-evaluation - The data of assessment within each academic department will be retained by the department with the expectation that the results of such assessment activities will be used in the aggregate to improve student learning. At a more broad level, the College should encourage an open culture of inquiry, and provide the means (budget, support, etc.) for faculty to address areas that have been identified for improvement.
Adequacy of resources to support assessment - The College will provide adequate resources to accomplish the tasks and meet the expectations of assessment. This will require financial support for faculty training, the implementation of projects that are institutional priorities (including improvements in areas identified through assessment), and the development of new assessment initiatives.
Multiple methodologies - The College is committed to the use of a broad cross-section of methodologies to assure that limitations of individual instruments do not distort the measurement of complex attributes or outcomes. Assessment measures should be selected to represent a range of assessment techniques - quantitative and qualitative; standardized and customized; direct and indirect - to assure a more comprehensive and rigorous assessment process.
Simplicity - Assessment practices need not be complex or costly; some very effective tools can be easily, quickly and inexpensively introduced. At the classroom level, for example, Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) could provide a simple and effective means for generating useful assessment information.
Beginning with what is already available - Assessment planning should begin with an inventory of current departmental or institutional practice. What assessment efforts are already in place at the departmental level? What data are available at the institutional level with no additional cost in dollars or staff time? What has already worked well? This approach is consistent with the previous principles of Gradualism and Simplicity. More individualized assessment data can then be collected incrementally.
Clarity and stability of goals - To access whether an institution or an academic department has achieved its goals, those goals must be clearly expressed and understood. To consistently monitor progress over time, those goals must also be reasonably stable. Broad institutional goals are periodically reviewed and updated as a result of the College's planning process. College and departmental goals will be reflective of institutional goals and should also remain stable during the period under assessment.
Communications - As articulated in the Middle States assessment publication, well-developed systems of communication are essential for an assessment program to function effectively. It is particularly important that academic departments and programs communicate learning goals and objectives clearly and consistently in all departmental literature, and that faculty articulate course goals, objectives and assessment strategies in individual course syllabi. When students understand what their instructors consider important, and how their learning will be assessed, they are able to focus their efforts more effectively on learning.
Communication and collaboration between academic departments are also necessary for the assessment of interdisciplinary programs and service courses. Finally, the College community should encourage communication of the assessment experiences of individuals and departments, both to reward their innovation and to foster collective learning.