What is Program Assessment?
Program assessment can mean different things to different people and in different contexts. At SDSU, we endorse the following definition by Dr. Thomas Angelo for our program assessment efforts:
“Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning. It involves making our expectations explicit and public; setting appropriate criteria and high standards for learning quality; systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; and using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance. When it is embedded effectively within larger institutional systems, assessment can help us focus our collective attention, examine our assumptions, and create a shared academic culture dedicated to assuring and improving the quality of higher education.”
– Thomas A. Angelo, 1995. Reassessing (and Defining) Assessment. American Association of Higher Education Bulletin 48:7-9.
We also endorse and promote the Nine Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning developed by the Assessment Forum of the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE).
In the sections below, we provide some information, resources, and materials in support of program assessment at SDSU.
Student Learning Outcomes Committee: This senate-appointed university community is charged with facilitating assessment efforts across the SDSU campus. Each college has a representative on the committee, and these representatives work closely with their college’s Assessment Coordinators for the various degree programs.
Guide for Oral Communication: This guide, downloadable as a pdf or Word file, was developed by members of the School of Communication, and presents some best-practices and recommendations drawn from COMM103, the course through which over 75% of students fulfill the Oral Communication component of their GE Communication and Critical Thinking requirement. The guide serves as a resource for both students and faculty across campus to help promote effective oral presentations within and beyond their courses. In addition, the appendix includes a variety of rubrics designed to facilitate successful presentations, constructive feedback, and evidence-based assessment. Faculty are welcome to select specific rubrics to share with their students, modifying them with attribution as appropriate to their specific learning goals and outcomes. Questions and suggestions for the guide may be sent to Dr. Brian Spitzberg (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Program Assessment Rubric and Survey Results: This nine-item, four-scale Program Assessment Rubric represented an initial effort to (1) scale down assessment-related items from the WASC Educational Effectiveness Framework to inform and guide our assessment efforts at the degree-level and (2) frame these assessment efforts within the language and architecture of our WEAVE, our online relational database for assessment. Seventy-six programs submitted their self-scoring for this rubric based on their 2012-2013 assessment efforts and WEAVE content. These compiled results, along with associated comments, helped inform our production of the Program Assessment Primer and the development of additional resources for program assessment.
Program Assessment Primer: This primer was developed by members of the Students Learning Outcomes and Program Assessment Commitee, and integrates some basic principles and processes of assessment with the basic architecture and operation of WEAVE, our online relational database for reporting, managing and tracking assessment efforts across the university. We encourage all parties to refer to this primer as appropriate, and to send any suggestions for primer improvement, clarification, and additions to email@example.com.
WEAVE Access, Assistance, and Administration: WEAVE is the SDSU-adopted software tool for the faculty in each degree program to manage, track, and report their program assessment efforts. Please contact the University WEAVE Coordinator, Dr. Nina Potter (x3303; firstname.lastname@example.org), to establish and manage accounts, troubleshoot content management issues, and assist with logistical and operational solutions.
Release Forms for Posting Student Work in WEAVE: Programs are asked to select samples of de-identified student work and include them in their Findings when reporting on a given Measure in WEAVE. This student work will be used to help illustrate, for non-specialists and other students, the program’s expected and exemplary levels of student achievement for the given Measure. This short guide provides suggestion for acquiring and posting expected and exemplary student work. Course Material and Model Releases can be downloaded as pdf or Word documents below. In Fall 2015, we plan to pilot a process by which such releases may be obtained via electronic signature; if you would like to participate in this pilot, please contact Stephen Schellenberg (email@example.com).