The Division of Student Affairs maintains a robust assessment portfolio focused on enhancing student learning, satisfaction, retention and success through co-curricular programs and services. Our framework includes seven types of assessment and is carried out by the members of our Division and the Student Affairs Assessment Council, with support from the University.
The authors of Student Affairs Assessment: A guide for practitioners describe different types of assessment in order of complexity (Upcraft and Schuh, 1996). Our division uses these types of assessment as a framework and engages in activities that address each of these areas. Our framework is supported and sustained by our assessment infrastructure, which provides the means for carrying these activities. Infrastructure includes, but is not limited to, equipment, software, policies and procedures, assessment plans, assessment scheduling, professional development opportunities and other assessment resources.
|Alignment with Professional Standards||Benchmarking/ Comparison Studies||Campus Climate||Student Satisfaction||Student Needs Assessment||Utilization Data|
Alignment with Professional Standards
Several professional organizations have developed standards to guide the practices of their members. For the Division of the Student Affairs, the majority of these standards are created by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS); however, individual departments may follow standards set by their respective professional organizations (e.g., National Association of Colleges and Employers). Some departments within the Division of Student Affairs also have the option of pursuing formal accreditation for their specific area and have chosen to do so (e.g., Department of Counseling and Psychological Services).
This type of assessment involves comparing aspects of the home institution (e.g., organizational structures, staffing, programs, services, spaces, policies) to other universities and colleges. These studies can be particularly helpful in orienting new leaders, informing strategic plans, and determining whether or not to pursue new initiatives. The success of benchmarking studies depends on the extent to which each peer institution is comparable to the home institution's characteristics (e.g., student population, location, organizational structure). Assessment and institutional research staff are often involved in benchmarking studies and can provide support in creating a tailored list of peer institutions.
Outcomes Assessment (Learning)
Often referred to as "assessment" by faculty, this type of project looks at the level of learning that occurs inside and outside of the classroom. National organizations have published frameworks to guide the development of learning outcomes in higher education (e.g., Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, Association of American Colleges and Universities, National Association of Colleges and Employers). There are typically four levels of learning outcomes: university, divisional, department, and program.
This type of assessment focuses on the quality of a person's experience but is not limited strictly to satisfaction. The term "campus climate" is often used when studying topics such as diversity and inclusion, behavior/conduct, and space layout and design.
Satisfaction assessments look at the quality of a particular aspect of the college experience. These types of assessments may be focused on overall experiences, technology, facilities, programs, services, processes and more.
This type of assessment is used to determine what students need in order to be successful. Topics might include, but are not limited to, health and wellness, academic support, diversity and inclusion, facilities, accommodations, safety, parking, dining, housing, and more.
Utilization studies involve data regarding participation in programs, events, services, etc. This type of data can be combined with a variety of other data to assist staff in better understanding students who are/are not engaged on campus as well as the level of impact programs and services have on the student experience.
The Assessment Council was established to monitor and support Student Affairs assessment initiatives. Questions and requests for assistance can be referred to the Executive Director of Assessment and Planning.
The Division of Student Affairs partners with Academic Affairs to promote and enhance student learning that occurs both within and outside of the classroom. To focus their efforts, the Division created a set of seven learning outcomes, which were informed heavily by the pivotal document in the student affairs field, Learning reconsidered: A campus-wide focus on the student experience (NASPA/ACPA, 2004) , which promotes holistic learning and the idea that the entire campus is a learning community.
Learning outcomes are what we expect students to be able to do, know, or achieve as a result of their engagement. Student Affairs strives to engage students in learning opportunities that support one or more of the seven learning outcomes, or a particular set of learning outcomes they have developed for a specific department or program. Below are resources to assist Student Affairs staff in the development and assessment of learning outcomes.
Student Affairs uses assessment to provide data that support strategic priorities and initiatives, as well as to improve our programs and services that support student learning, retention, and success.
In addition to consulting with a member of the Student Affairs Assessment Council, Student Affairs staff are encouraged to utilize the following resources to assist them with their assessment projects.