What is Assessment?
Assessment is a continuous process of gathering and analyzing information to improve student learning and institutional effectiveness. Assessment is a process that begins with defining a program or unit’s mission, then developing desired goals or outcomes, monitoring progress toward those outcomes, communicating and analyzing results, and, finally, using those results to make improvements. Assessment provides evidence of how well the University is achieving its mission, helps guide decision-making and resource allocation, highlights areas where improvements need to be made and where success can provide important lessons for the university. Assessment helps answer the question, “Is all of our work and our resources bringing about the results we want?”
Effective assessment is:
- Useful – It helps administrators and staff members make appropriate decisions about improving programs and services, planning and resource allocation.
- Cost-effective – It is simple, focusing on a few key outcomes or goals.
- Reasonably accurate and truthful – The results are valid, from multiple direct and indirect measures, and can be used with confidence.
- Planned – Goals and outcomes are linked to institutional goals and plans.
- Organized, systematized and sustained – It is carried out as part of an intentional, systematic, and ongoing process — not once, ad-hoc, and done.
Marymount University has two formal mechanisms for assessing effectiveness:
- periodic review of academic programs and administrative units, and
- an annual outcomes assessment process.
All academic degree programs and administrative divisions are required to report assessment results on an annual basis. All academic programs are required to engage in a review every five to seven years, and administrative units are reviewed as needs arise through the strategic planning process.
The university is committed to using a systematic, sustainable, and effective assessment process to support and improve student learning, enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of our administrative divisions, and provide demonstrable evidence for our community and external agencies that the University is achieving its mission.
How are Assessment Results Used?
University assessment results are reviewed by program chairs, deans, vice presidents, the University Assessment Committee, Academic Planning and Budgeting Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, and other university committees as well as the University Cabinet to inform a wide variety of planning and resource allocation decisions. That process is outlined in Marymount’s Framework of Institutional Effectiveness.
Assessment and Accreditation
Marymount University is required by its accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), to engage in ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation processes that result in continuous improvement in institutional quality and demonstrate that we are effectively accomplishing our mission.
The SACSCOC Standards for Accreditation reflect a philosophy that “the concept of quality enhancement presumes each member institution to be engaged in an ongoing program of improvement and be able to demonstrate how well it fulfills its stated mission.” SACSCOC expects the institutions that carry its accreditation to document the quality and effectiveness of all programs and services.
University Assessment Committee
The University Assessment Committee reviews and evaluates student learning and administrative assessment reports to ensure the usefulness of the results.