Volkwein's Twelve-Step Recipe for Establishing
an Assessment Program
Start with an Assessment Model that shapes research
& data collection activities so that they provide information about
student learning and are congruent with the institutional mission and goal
attainment. Whether derived from the assessment literature or adapted from
another college, a model encourages clarity, serves as a guide for designing
data collection and analysis, and makes campus assessment efforts more
Avoid the Paralysis of the Grand Plan. Donít wait
until you have a model and the "perfect" plan before you begin.óno campus
has a perfect plan. Just outline one and let it grow.
Conduct an Inventory of existing sources of assessment
information. Begin new data collection activities only after reviewing
& learning from whatís already available.
When collecting and analyzing data, Ask the Right Question:
Student Rating of Instruction
Student Transcripts and course-taking patterns
Retention, graduation rates by student sub-group
Academic program reviews
Department placement exams
Career placement and other alumni information
Past surveys of students and employers
Start simply and do the do-able first Ė Donít try
to do everything at once.
Do we meet the standard?
How do we compare?
Are we attaining our goals?
Are we getting better?
Identify the existing processes and programs which
make a difference at your institution and tie into them. Use successful
programs as internal models for less successful programs.
Experiment with small Pilot programs and initiatives
- then evaluate before continuing or expanding them. Plan to implement
programs in phases.
Use assessment results in visible ways. Make ample
provision for reporting to relevant audiences. Most campuses spend too
much time & resources collecting data and not enough time and resources
on communicating information.
Create a visible person/office for assessment activity.
Presidential leadership and support for assessment efforts is a necessary
but not sufficient condition to produce successful formative assessment.
Someone must be given responsibility for day-to-day and week-to-week support
for assessment activities, AND for being a local campus expert for those
seeking information and assistance. Leadership and support must ALSO come
from Vice Presidents, Deans, and Chairs.
Seek faculty involvement through departments. Involve
not only faculty but also students and student affairs staff.
Link assessment to faculty/staff development and retraining,
and include this a part of your assessment plan.
Make provisions for revising the plan. Make it clear
that assessment is not fixed Ė but evolving, changeable.
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