(John Schuh and Lee Upcraft)



I.  The Rationale for Assessment in Student Affairs


A.  Fundamental Necessity


1.  Accountability questions: do we provide programs and services that contribute to retention, academic achievement, student learning, student development, and other important goals?


2.  Cost questions: are we providing cost-effective programs?


3.  Quality questions: are we providing high quality programs? How do we define quality? How do we measure it?


4.  Access questions: do our programs and services provide access to underrepresented groups?


5.  Equity questions


6.  Accreditation: can we demonstrate that our programs and services results in positive outcomes for students?


B. A Matter of Quality


1.  How do we define, establish criteria, and measure quality in our programs and services?


C. A Matter of Affordability


D. A Matter of Strategic Planning


1.  Assessment contributions to strategic planning

a. Helping define goals and objectives

b. Pointing to critical questions or concerns

c. Providing baseline data

d. Providing feedback about the effectiveness of long-range plans

e. Helpful in the early stages of planning to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and concerns


E. A Matter of Policy Development and Decision Making


F. A Matter of Politics


II. Assessment Defined


A.  Assessment is: any effort to gather, analyze, and interpret evidence which describes institutional, departmental, divisional, or agency effectiveness.


B.  Assessment example: determining whether our admissions criteria predict subsequent persistence and degree completion; determining whether information used in psychological screening is useful in subsequent therapy


III. Evaluation Defined


A.  Evaluation is: the use of assessment evidence to improve

      institutional, departmental, divisional, or agency effectiveness.


B.  Evaluation examples: use of the assessment results as a rationale for changing evaluation criteria: use of assessment results on psychological screening to change the screening process.


IV. Principles of Good Practice for Assessment


A.  The assessment of Student Affairs begins with educational values


B.  Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of organizational outcomes as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time.


C.  Assessment works best when it has clear, explicitly stated goals.


D.  Assessment requires attention to outcomes, but also to the processes that lead to them.


E.  Assessment works best when it is on-going.


F.  Assessment is most effective when representatives from across Student Affairs and the institution are involved.


G.  Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues of use and illuminates questions that people really care about.


H.  Assessment should be part of a larger set of conditions that promote change


I.   Through assessment, Student Affairs professionals meet responsibilities of students, the institution, and the public.




V.  The Assessment Process: Some Important Questions


A. Why are we doing this assessment?


1.  What is its basic purpose?


2.  Why do we need information in the first place?           


3.  Do we need the information for budget priorities, because we are in a crisis, because we need to satisfy our clientele, because we need to decide about a policy or policies, or to make a decision?


B.  What will we assess?


1. What information is to be gathered?


C.  How will we assess?


1.  What will be the sources of information?


2.  Will the information gathered be quantitative, qualitative, or both?


3.  What designs are appropriate?


D.  Who will assess?


E.  How will the results be analyzed?


F.  How will the results be communicated and to whom?


VI.  A Comprehensive Assessment Model


A.  Keep track of who uses student services, programs, and facilities


B.  Assess the needs of students and other clientele


C.  Assess the level of satisfaction with our programs and services


D.  Assess campus environments and student cultures


E.  Assess outcomes


F.  Benchmark to compare to other institutions


G.  Use nationally accepted standards to assess


VII. Development of an Instrument


A.  Guidelines


1.  The instrument should be shorter, clear, with good sequencing of items, with good ease of completion and return.


2.  The instrument should appear professional to respondents


3.  The instrument should have clearly stated and understood items


4.  The instrument should have reliability


5.  The instrument should have validity


6.  The items should have a natural flow and a proper order


VIII. Data Collection


A.  Guidelines


1.   Include a cover letter that explains the purpose of and the importance of the study


2.  Write the cover letter on letterhead stationary; have it signed by someone in the area that students will potentially respond to


3.  Personalize the cover letter where possible


4.  Offer to send a copy of the results of the study


5.  Identify how confidentiality will be insured


6.  Offer an incentive, such as participation in a drawing for a prize


7.  Estimate the amount of time it will take to complete the instrument; try to keep it to 10 minutes; pilot-test the instrument


8.  Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope to return the instruments


9.  Identify the name and phone number of someone who can answer questions


10.  Mail the instrument at a “user-friendly” time for students