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Academic Programs

Assessment of Academic Degree Programs
Educational program outcomes assessment is an intentional, iterative, faculty-driven inquiry process to (i) explicitly articulate expected learning outcomes for program graduates, (ii) coherently integrate the outcomes in the program curriculum, (iii) systematically collect data to review the extent to which the graduates achieve these outcomes, and (iv) implement curricular, co-curricular, and/or advising innovations in the program based on meaningful analysis of the review results.

SACSCOC Comprehensive Standard requires each educational programto (i) identify expected outcomes (including student learning outcomes), (ii) assess the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and (iii) provide evidence of improvement based on analysis of the results.

For more information about program outcomes assessment in administrative units, please contact Dr. James Walke, jtwalke@nsu.edu .

Frequently Asked Questions:
Question: How is program assessment is different from course assessment?
Answer: “[In program assessment] emphasis is on students – plural, not singular. Assessment of student learning is about aggregate student performance, not the performance of an individual student. And it is about cognitive gains across course sections and across academic disciplines. As such, it is also not about the performance of an individual faculty member in the classroom, but rather about the effectiveness of the collective faculty in facilitating student learning” (Middaugh, 2010, p. 93).

Question: I was hired to teach students in my courses and conduct research in my academic field. Why am I expected to engage in program assessment?
Answer: Assessment is an integral part of faculty professional duties. “Faculty are responsible for establishing goals for student learning, for designing and implementing programs of general education and specialized study that intentionally cultivate the intended learning, and for assessing students’ achievement.” (AAC&U, 2006, Academic Freedom and Responsibility, p.1). Furthermore, “assessment is a natural, inescapable, human, and scholarly act. … Our academic training urges us to look for evidence to support claims, so when the college catalogue claims that students learn to be critical thinkers, we ask, ‘Well, do they?’” (Walvoord, 2010, p. 2)

Resource Box

Academic Program Assessment Reports 2012-2013
*Carpenter, A.N., & Bach, C. (2010). Learning assessment: Hyperbolic doubts versus deflated critiques. Analytic Teaching and Philosophical Praxis, 30 (1), 1-11.
*Chin, J., Senter, M.S., & Spalter-Roth, R. (2011). Love to teach, but hate assessment? Teaching Sociology, 39 (2), 120-126.
*Cole, A., & De Maio, J. (2009). What we learned about our assessment program that has nothing to do with student learning outcomes. Journal of Political Science Education, 5, 294-314.
*Ewell, P., Paulson, K., & Kinzie, J. (2011). Down and in: Assessment practices at the program level. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).
*Fort, A. (2011). Learning about learning outcomes: A liberal arts professor assesses. Liberal Education, 97 (1).
*Graff, G. (2009). Why assessment? Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture, 10 (1), 153-165.
*Hutchings, P. (2011, April). What new faculty need to know about assessment. (NILOA Assessment Brief: Faculty). Urbana, IL: University for Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment
*Matveev, A.G. (2011). Outcomes assessment in educational programs: Expectations of SACSCOC peer reviewers. R.E.A.S.O.N.! Journal, 3(2), 22-26. Norfolk, VA: Norfolk State University/QECTS.