Roles: Whose Job is Student Learning Outcome Assessment?
Indiana University Northwest is creating a campus culture wherein student learning outcome assessment is prioritized and in which a centralized structure provides consistent and deep assessment as well as consistent policies and practices related to assessment. Assessment of student learning outcomes in this campus-wide structure occurs at the institution-, program-, and course-level. The allocation of funds to assessment operations and activities (including staffing and development) manifests the priority such efforts for continuous improvement in learning hold for the campus. To facilitate the creation of such a campus-wide culture, the constituents from the individual instructor to the Chancellor must understand the essential role each plays in the effective assessment of student learning.
In addition to needing to define terms clearly so that expectations and responsibilities are clearly indicated, we need to delineate the actual roles the various university constituents play.
- Faculty will implement direct and indirect measures of student learning outcomes, analyze the data derived from those measures, improve their courses and programs based on that data, and report their data and changes to their respective dean. In addition, through the Assessment Committee of the Faculty Organization, faculty will develop priorities for campus-wide improvement initiatives based on aggregated student learning outcome assessment data.
- Unit assessment coordinators are responsible for working with the faculty and dean of the unit to develop plans, policies, and procedures for assessment within the unit. These individuals will assist faculty in identifying appropriate assessment measures, will guide the unit in faculty development related to assessment, will aid the faculty with the data collection, analysis, and reporting.
- Deans are responsible for ensuring that their respective units have developed unit assessment plans that include specific measures of student learning as well as cycles for reporting the data collected from those measures and that articulate improvements made based on that data. In addition to facilitating the collection of student learning outcome assessment data for their particular unit, deans are responsible for providing the necessary faculty and staff development to ensure effective assessment. Additionally, deans are responsible for ensuring that aggregated unit assessment data are reported to the campus-wide assessment “person”.
- The Campus Assessment Coordinator (part of the portfolio of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs) is responsible for centralizing student learning outcome assessment across the campus. In collaboration with the Faculty Organization Assessment Committee, this individual will take the lead in producing campus-wide policies, procedures, templates, reporting cycles, and dissemination of assessment information. The individual will work with the faculty, unit assessment coordinators, and deans to develop unit-specific plans, policies, and procedures for assessment within the unit. This person will assist unit assessment coordinator in identifying appropriate assessment measures, will assist the unit assessment coordinator in faculty development related to assessment, will aid the faculty and assessment coordinators with the data collection, analysis, and reporting. This individual will report aggregated assessment data to the Faculty Organization Assessment Committee and will assist the committee, if requested, with developing campus-wide improvement initiatives. The Campus Assessment Coordinator is responsible for disseminating assessment information (data, reports, initiatives, etc) to campus constituents, and this responsibility includes maintaining an assessment website wherein data and information will be housed.
- The Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs is responsible for leading student learning outcome assessment efforts within Student Affairs, ensuring the systematic collection of data, and the use of collected data to target improvements. The VCSA will hold the student services units accountable for unit-specific cycles of assessment, reporting, and improvement.
- The Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs will lead the campus-wide student learning outcome assessment efforts, insisting upon the centralization of the process, the systematic collection of data, and the use of collected data to target improvements. The VCAA will advocate for the necessary resource allocation to ensure that the campus creates a solid climate of assessment and is able to carry out recommended improvement initiatives. The VCAA will hold the academic units accountable for unit-specific cycles of assessment, reporting, and improvement.
- Recognizing the essential role of student learning outcome assessment in achieving the Strategic Priorities and the Shared Vision, the Chancellor advocates for assessment of student learning outcomes as an institutional priority. The Chancellor guides institutional change and innovation based on assessment data and prioritizes the resources necessary to develop and maintain a culture of assessment.
The roles and responsibilities of those necessary to achieve the goal of creating a campus culture of student learning outcome assessment and evidenced-based improvement initiatives have been described above. The accompanying figure illustrates the flow of data necessary to achieve centralized, campus-wide assessment and improvement in student learning outcomes.