Assessment FAQ

1. What is assessment?
2. What is student learning assessment?
3. Why assessment important?
4. Why do we need learning outcomes?
5. What are Hartwick's General Education Learning Outcomes?
6. Who at Hartwick is responsible to assessment of student learning outcomes?
7. Who at Hartwick is responsible for institutional assessment?
8. What are the principles of "good practice" associated with student learning assessment?
9. What are the expectations of Middle States in regards to assessment?
10. Where can I get help or resources related to student learning assessment?

1. What is assessment?

  • Assessment is an on-going and systematic collection, review and use of empirical data about the educational experience for the purpose of improving student learning, and achieving desired learning outcomes. There are four primary levels at which assessment occurs at Hartwick:
    • Institutional Assessment - an on-going process designed to monitor and determine the extent to which curricular, co-curricular and institutional areas and processes support the achievement of student learning outcomes as defined by the mission of the college.
    • General Education Learning Assessment - In this process, faculty explicitly define what it is they expect Hartwick College students to learn (referred to as learning outcomes); review the Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum to confirm it is designed to foster those learning outcomes; collect empirical data to demonstrate to what extent the curriculum is fostering the desired outcomes; and use the results of the assessment to make appropriate modifications in the curriculum (referred to as the feed-back loop). General Education Assessment is most concerned with the breadth of the students' experience.
    • Academic Program Assessment (also known as Programmatic Assessment) - assessment of student learning outcomes within the students' specific major or program of study. Academic Program Assessment is most concerned with the depth of the student experience and acquisition of knowledge and skills relevant to the field of study.
    • Course-based Assessment (also referred to as Classroom Assessment) - is a process of gathering data on student learning during the educational experience, designed to help the instructor determine which concepts or skills the students are not learning well, so that steps may be taken to improve the students' learning while the course is still in session. [This is a formative assessment strategy.] (Classroom-based Assessment Strategies)

2. What is student learning assessment?

  • Student Learning Assessment - an ongoing systematic process designed by an institution to monitor and improve student learning. It is designed to answer the questions: "What are students learning? How well are they learning it? In this process, faculty explicitly define what it is they expect students to learn (referred to as learning outcomes); review the curriculum to confirm it is designed to foster those learning outcomes; collect empirical data to demonstrate to what extent the curriculum is fostering the desired outcomes; and, use the results of the assessment to make appropriate modifications in the curriculum (referred to as the Feed-back loop). (Steps in the Assessment Process)

3. Why is assessment important?

  • The primary reason we engage in assessment is to answer the question "What are our students learning and how well are they learning it?" The results of assessment provide the data to support a wide variety of institutional, curricular and programmatic needs. For example, assessment data can be used to demonstrate program quality or support requests for needed resources or support. In addition, assessment offers faculty an opportunity to be more reflective about the teaching and learning process. Used in a systematic way, feedback from assessment can help faculty make decisions to improve student learning.

4. Why do we need learning outcomes?

  • General education and other departmental courses are often staffed by adjuncts and/or new faculty. Learning outcomes represent a shared understanding of what it is the faculty at large (or within a department) expect to be the knowledge, skills and values students will attain in that course. Also, properly constructed outcomes will allow us to measure learning and thus to make changes/improvements for future students.

5. What are Hartwick's General Education Learning Outcomes?

  • The Hartwick faculty have identified important student learning outcomes that are based upon The Liberal Arts in Practice: A Curriculum for Hartwick College:
    • LO1.1: Communicate effectively in written English.
    • LO1.2: Communicate effectively in spoken English.
    • LO2: Communicate in one non-native language.
    • LO3: Express ideas in formal logical or mathematical language and evaluate ideas so expressed.
    • LO5: Develop, test, and evaluate hypotheses using appropriate information and methods.
    • LO6: Produce interpretive or problem-solving creative work.
    • LO7: Apply knowledge through practical experience.

6. Who at Hartwick is responsible for assessment of student learning outcomes?

  • Ultimate responsibility for student learning assessment rests with the faculty. For general education learning assessment, the Faculty at large has elected representatives to the Faculty Council and the Committee on Assessment of General Education to provide them with support, guidance, and recommendations in the assessment of student learning. The Faculty Council is ultimately in charge of overseeing the Student Learning Assessment Initiative.
  • The Committee on Assessment of General Education (CAGE) is responsible for development and oversight of the General Education Assessment Plan, to assess student learning. CAGE report results and recommendation for curriculum change to Faculty Council. The Chair of CAGE is Dr. Marc Shaw, shawm@hartwick.edu.
  • Individual departments and faculty are also responsible for departmental and classroom assessment. Each academic department currently submits a departmental assessment plan and annual assessment reports to the Office of Academic Affairs. Classroom assessment is expected; however, how this is achieved is up to the individual faculty member.

7. Who at Hartwick is responsible for institutional assessment?

8. What are the principles of "good practice" associated with student learning assessment?

  • In 1992 the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) Assessment Forum identified "9 Principles of Good Assessment Practice" to guide effective student learning assessment initiatives. This document stands as a guide to the basic principle of "good practice" in assessment.

9. What are the expectations of Middle States in regards to assessment?

  • The Middle States Association of Colleges of Higher Education is the accrediting body for Hartwick College. Middle States outlines 14 Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education on which they base the accreditation of all colleges and universities within their region. Standard 7 - Institutional Assessment - and Standard 14 - Assessment of Student Learning, specifically relate to our assessment efforts.
    • Standard 7 requires that the "institution has developed and implemented an assessment that evaluates its overall effectiveness in achieving its mission and goals" (MSCHE 2006, p. 25), which includes efficiently using all its resources to assure that student meet the learning and other outcomes and goals set by the institution.
    • Standard 14 requires that the institution "demonstrate that at graduation, or other appropriate points, the institution's students have knowledge, skills and competencies consistent with institutional and higher education goals" (MSCHE 2006, p. 63).

If you have an assessment question you would like to have answered, please send it to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Assessment.