Cleveland State University [d] NCA 2000 Self-Study Report [d]

   
   

Final Self-Study Report Chapter 4: 15 Aug 2000

EVALUATION OF ASSESSMENT

Strengths

Assessment of General Education has been built on a strong foundation. Faculty oversight is provided through the University Curriculum Committee. The Office of the Provost has provided administrative leadership and financial support not only in personnel lines, but also for the costs of conducting surveys, purchasing standardized tests, and offering a financial incentive for students to take tests. Three methods of assessing student learning have been developed. Two of them are objective, one of which involves the evaluation of actual student class productions. The General Education curriculum itself is coherent with well-defined learning objectives for the students. Early results from the senior survey and the Academic Profile indicate that learning objectives in General Education are being achieved.

In academic programs, a variety of creative methods are being used to assess student learning outcomes. Programs use the results of assessment to determine whether or not to make programmatic or curriculum decisions. For some, assessment results have indicated little need for change. Others have used assessment results to make improvements in their curriculum. Assessment results were particularly useful and timely during curriculum conversion to semesters. Scores on licensing exams provide the professional programs with external validation on the preparation of their students, and those programs use the results to move quickly to make any necessary program improvements.

Challenges/Opportunities

Steps now need to be taken to remedy some deficiencies in current procedures. Even with a financial incentive, it was difficult to get students to volunteer to take the Academic Profile. It seems necessary to move to a less-voluntary approach. There has been reluctance to do this out of fear that some students might not take the test seriously, thus defeating the purpose of giving it in the first place. Several alternatives are being considered, including administering the test in systematically selected classes, or including a notice in a percentage of graduation application packets that the student is expected to take the test at dates and times when the Testing Center gives it. Including the Senior Survey in all the graduation application packets should also increase the response rate to that instrument.

Not all sections of courses in Western and Nonwestern Culture and Human Diversity/African-American Experience require students to write a paper. Some of those sections are large lecture classes with short-answer or objective exams. Once the number of such classes is determined, the Coordinator will discuss the issue with the UCC and instructors in those sections to share ideas and determine how to proceed.

While assessment activities are widespread, they are not uniformly developed across all units in the University. Some have model programs of assessment and use the results for curriculum change and development. Others need to pay more attention to the feedback process and use assessment results to refine and improve their programs. There still may be too much reliance on course grades as a measure of student learning. The Coordinator has been visiting units whose assessment reports indicate the need for impetus and assistance to move them to the next level. The addition of three trained graduate assistants to the Coordinator’s staff will help departments with technical details of testing and preparing and analyzing surveys. The Coordinator has been organizing Assessment Symposia to reinforce the climate of assessment on campus and to disseminate useful information on assessment activities to the campus community. This year’s Symposia will focus on the kinds of important decisions for programs and curricula that might be informed by assessment data, and then work back to the kinds of assessments of student learning that would help with those decisions.

In terms of the Commission’s guidelines for stages of assessment, there is evidence that a substantial majority of academic programs are at stage two or three. However, there is still room for improvement and greater progress. The University has responded positively to the assessment initiative and is committed to continued improvement in the way it measures student learning and feeds the results back to curriculum and program decisions.


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