Effective assessment of higher education institutional effectiveness is still in a stage of relative infancy, and to date has developed as a reactive response to external pressures. Assessment planning and institutional improvement have taken shape as a result of accrediting body influences on member institutions. However, even various accrediting bodies have yet to settle on common criteria and standards other than very general guidelines typically focused on evidence, validity, sustainability, and an improvement process. As a minimum any assessment plans must be able to demonstrate these key elements. Additional external influences have brought in the notion of educational value. What constitutes proof of value is still in a realm of subjectivity without solid definition. We can, however, still develop assessment plans that incorporate valuable tools to assess and improve mission effectiveness.
Useful assessment does indeed require a significant amount of thought in planning development, and a balanced approach tends to give more meaningful information. As presently crafted, the proposed assessment plan lacks some balance. It is largely a more traditional approach and could be improved with addition of more recent assessment developments. In overall balance, the one area completely missing at the institutional level is operational effectiveness. This effectiveness can have a significant impact on the ability of the institution to achieve its mission.
While not specifically addressed in a footnote, contextually, it is logical that “SSI” refers to a standardized Social Skills Inventory assessment. This being the case, institutional assessment is overwhelmingly biased with quantitative comparative measurements.
Carroll State College’s Assessment Plan does demonstrate assessment initiatives at all three levels: course, program, and institution. While it is a rough outline, there remains work to be done concerning use of assessment information. Information without a cogent plan involving use of assessment information for improvement is an industry of little substantive value.
Direct and Indirect
The plan does contain both direct and indirect elements; however, direct assessment is far more prevalent. Only the portfolio at the program level has elements of indirect assessment. It may prove advantageous to work additional indirect tools into the plan to provide better balance. Indirect tools often contribute additional insight to use for interpretation and context of direct methods.
Qualitative and Quantitative
CSC’s plan is predominately quantitative. Use of qualitative tools to add more meaning to quantitative assessment may enhance assessment value. In particular, use of student and faculty focus groups may bring out more useful information to use for interpretive context of qualitative data.
Summative and Formative
The assessment plan clearly shows...