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.
Assessment at Mercer
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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. During the years while the Web-based Assessment Record was in use, 170 academic, administrative and support programs were entered into the system. In 2013-2014, the assessment record and the assessment process was moved into a new system, Compliance Assist, which houses assessment plans for academic programs, educational support units, administrative units, research units, and service/outreach units.
Developing Assessment Plans
All academic, administrative, educational support, research, and service/outreach units at Mercer develop plans linked to the University's mission and/or goals. Academic 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. Academic programs can also include operational outcomes for their unit. Other units state operational outcomes that describe the functional responsibilities of the unit. These non-academic units can also include student learning outcomes, if relevant. The means for assessment and criteria for success for each outcome is identified. Programs/units 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 in Compliance Assist. 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. Additionally, the program/unit creates an action plan that summarizes the use of results plans and identifies stakeholders and dissemination strategies; units also file an update on the previous year's action plan.
Peer Review of Assessment Record
The University Assessment Council (UAC) reviews the assessment plans and reports 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.