Moving forward with student learning assessment
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University of Nevada Las Vegas May 13, 2010. Moving Forward with Student Learning Assessment. Linda Suskie Vice President Middle States Commission on Higher Education. What’s the Big Deal with Assessment?. New England Association of Schools and Colleges, NEAS&C

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Moving Forward with Student Learning Assessment

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  • University of Nevada Las Vegas

  • May 13, 2010

Moving Forward with Student Learning Assessment

Linda Suskie

Vice President

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

What’s the Big Deal with Assessment?

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges, NEAS&C

  • Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges, MSA

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SACS

  • North Central Association of Schools and Colleges, The Higher Learning Commissions, NCA-HLC

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, NWCCU

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges, WASC

Accreditation: The First 50 Years

Voluntary, membership-controlled

Largely unregulated

Examined inputs, not outcomes

1965 Higher Education Opportunities Act (HEOA)

Title IV funds only to colleges with Federally recognized accreditors

Accreditors must comply with HEOA criteria

1980s and 1990s

HEOA reauthorization

1986: First outcomes assessment language

1998: Assessment language strengthened

Regional accreditors rewrote standards

“Learning-centered” movement

Learning is a partnership

Assessment is a tool

Research on effective pedagogies & student success

2000s: Calls for Accountability

2007 Spellings Commission

2008 Higher Education Act negotiations

Public information on quality & effectiveness


Easy to find & understand

Systematic – not anecdotes


Will Assessment Ever Go Away?

Federal regulations

Other calls for accountability

“Learning-centered” focus

Evidence-informed planning & decision-making

Moving Forward

The Critical Role of Campus Leaders

Assessment permeates campus culture


campus leaders are truly and actively committed to assessment.

1. How Much Do We Value Teaching and Learning?

Why do we teach?

What do we most want students to learn?

Why those things and not others?

How do we help students learn those things?

How do we know they’re learning it?

2. How Much Do We Value Innovation?

Value efforts to improve teaching.

Assessment results = teaching effectiveness?

Assessment = scholarship?

3. How Much Do We Respect & Empower People?

Do we respect campus values?

Do we respect school, college & discipline values?

Do we respect what everyone has been doing?

Do we value collaboration?

Do Faculty Lead Assessment?

Who are your assessment champions?

Faculty-led assessment steering committees?

What are they empowered to do?

Are they the right people?

Are they effective?

Do Faculty Understand What They Are to Do?

Realistic, flexible expectations

Simple, effective reporting requirements

Constructive feedback

What About Academic Freedom?

Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject.

AAUP 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom & Tenure

4. How Do We Support Assessment?

Time? Stop Doing Something Else.


New programs & courses

Other new initiatives

Specialized accreditation

Do We Minimize the Burden of Assessment?

Only do what’s useful

Quick & easy assessment tools

Realistic about quality

“Synch” processes

Academic program review

Specialized accreditation

NWCCU accreditation

How Do University Leaders Promote & Facilitate Assessment?

Use assessment results to inform important decisions.

Help faculty find time.

Professional development

Technical support

Freedom to fail

How Do University Processes Support Assessment?

Constructive feedback on assessment reports

Curriculum approval

Administrative performance review

Faculty promotion & tenure

Resource allocation

Academic Program Review


Outcomes: Student learning


Cost and cost-effectiveness

5. How Do We Value Assessment Efforts?

Five Stages of Assessment(from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross)

  • Denial

  • Anger

  • Bargaining

  • Depression

  • Acceptance

Why Should Faculty Engage in Assessment?


Recognition for teaching/learning grants

Budget priority

Do We Use Assessment Results to Inform Important Decisions?

  • “Innovation” grants

  • Funding priority to requests supported by assessment evidence

  • Strategic goals & plans based on assessment evidence

Do We Use Assessment Results to Celebrate & Publicize Successes?

  • Value teaching & learning

  • Value innovation

  • Respect & empower people

  • Support assessment

  • Value assessment efforts

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