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Belmont University | Belief in Something Greater

Program Assessment

While assessment happens across the university in a variety of forms, Program Assessment focuses on academic, student learning assessment of majors. OAIR supports the Program Assessment processes by coordinating and providing administrative support and technical expertise to departments.

A unit within program assessment is an academic course of study, or several concentrations pulled together that have the same intended Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). Each of these units are responsible for creating, maintaining, and reporting on their assessment plan, providing our office with an annual report summarizing the results of their key measures and how they plan to use these results for improvement. Each assessment plan includes these components: 

Assessment Process Description

A statement outlining the planned, ongoing activities embedded in a unit's process specifically focused on their assessment plan, any results, and any potential curricular changes related to it. This description should reflect an ongoing process, not one in the future, the past, or as needed.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Stated in terms of what the student will do, these Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) include either knowledge the students will be able to use or skills students will be able to perform.

Key Measures

Key measures provide specific indicators of students' progress toward a program's SLOs. Key measures should be based on student work (direct measures). Indirect measures (student-reported data, such as surveys) can be included, but are secondary.

Results -- including Curricular Changes

Results are made up of a concise but informative overview of student performance on a unit's key measures. The overview should include an analysis of what these results mean to the unit regarding curriculum.

The curricular changes listed here are directly related to the results of a unit's key measures. These changes might be related to the curriculum content or the curricular process. They might also relate to changes in the assessment plan, for instance realizing that a measure should be replaced. These changes can be course level or program level.

This assessment plan reporting does not record every curricular improvement the program makes at every level. Instead, it records their systematic assessment of key checkpoints that we believe reflects a larger work they do throughout the curriculum.

Peer Review

Each year the Program Assessment Plans are reviewed by the Program Assessment Committee. This committee is convened by the Office of Assessment and Institutional Research and is comprised of at least one member from each college. In order, to maintain some consistency in the feedback, the committee reviews the plan using a common rubric that identifies the scope and quality of each component listed above. 

Assessment On Assessment Rubric

Click here to download a full PDF.

Assessment on Assessment: What We Have Learned

Over the last several years we have made some strategic changes to facilitate decision-making based on assessment results.

1. Online Platform. We incorporated an online platform for data management and aggregation. The use of Tk20, rather than Office documents e-mailed back and forth, allows our program assessors more flexibility in where they do their work and allows real-time conversations and editing as well as aggregation. It also means our office does not have to handle or reformat information between the assessment plan update cycle and the committee review cycle.

2. Cycled Reporting. Each program divided their Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) into three sets, each set to be reported in consecutive years. In this way, we established a three year cycle of assessment reporting. This gives programs more time to observe the changes they put into place and draw conclusions about their effectiveness.

Three Year Cycle

3. Reconsidered Timeline. Because of the other changes we had made, we could reconsider our timeline. We moved from a deadline-driven timeline tracking compliance to a timeline that focuses on reflection and conversation that leads to decision-making based on results.

Assessment Timeline



Writing Effective Outcome Statements

Choosing the Right Assessment Methods

Reporting Your Results

Qualitative Data: Coding for Organization

Quantitative Data: Presenting Findings Visually