Assessment is a process in which faculty and staff have identified the most appropriate learning outcomes or service objectives for specific programs. The purpose of assessment is to provide information on the performance of curriculum, learning process, and/or services, thereby allowing each unit to improve programs. It is not an evaluation of individual students or of individual faculty or staff.
In the fall of 1988, Secretary of Education William Bennett, issued an executive order requiring all federally approved accreditation organizations to include in their criteria for accreditation evidence of institutional outcomes.
Assessment at Mercer
What is Assessment?
Assessment is the systematic collection, review and use of information about programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development (Catherine A. Palomba and Trudy W. Banta, Assessment Essentials: Planning, Implementing, and Improving Assessment in Higher Education).
Mercer University has engaged in a variety of assessment methods and practices that were designed to improve student learning and services to students. In the 2002-2003 academic year, the University implemented a comprehensive assessment program to provide a systematic approach for all instructional and service programs. Since then, 170 academic, administrative and support programs have been entered into the Web-based Assessment Record.
Developing Assessment Plans
All instructional and administrative or educational support (AES) programs at Mercer develop plans linked to the University's mission and/or goals. Instructional programs state student learning outcomes which are descriptions of what programs intend for students to know (cognitive), think (attitudinal), or do (behavioral) when they have completed the program. AES programs state service objectives that describe how well the unit intends to function or improve services.The means for assessment and criteria for success for each outcome or objective is identified. Programs are encouraged to have multiple means of assessment with specific criteria for success for each outcome objective.
Implementing Assessment Plans
Programs implement stated means of assessment and enter the collected summary data on the Assessment Record. They then describe how this information was used to make improvements. If the program fails to meet its criteria for success, it is asked to describe what plans will be taken to assure that the criteria will be met.
Peer Review of Assessment Record
The University Assessment Council (UAC) reviews the Assessment Record at the end of each cycle. Suggestions for improvement in the assessment process are forwarded to the Deans, Vice Presidents, or Director of the appropriate unit.