Introduction: History of Assessment at Southeast
The assessment program at Southeast grows out of commitments dating from 1967, when the University's Office of Institutional Research was founded. From the mid to late 70's, the University collected information relating to student academic achievement and institutional effectiveness. For example, in 1977 the University first participated in the Cooperative Institutional Research Program survey of entering and enrolled freshmen and continues to do so biannually. In 1979 the Department of English, responding to perceived inadequacies in the use of ACT scores for placement, developed a placement test based on a writing sample. And in Spring 1980 the ETS Institutional Goals Survey was used to obtain information about student, faculty, and staff perceptions of institutional goals.
Assessment activities increased gradually in the early to mid 80's. In 1983 the Committee on an Institutional System to Follow Up Graduates-composed of faculty, administrative, staff, student, and community representatives--was created to make recommendations for a campus-wide ' alumni survey system. After guidelines for the alumni survey were developed, a second committee designed an appropriate survey instrument, including optional departmental inserts. In January 1985 the Office of Institutional Research mailed the approved survey to 1,269 graduates from the Summer 1983 through Spring 1984 graduating classes. Earlier, in November 1984, the Board of Regents had approved a graduation requirement that all students must pass a writing proficiency test after completing 75 hours, and in Summer 1985 state funding was obtained to implement the Writing Outcomes Program, a unit responsible for writing assessment, the Writing Center, and writing-across-the-curriculum. In preparation for pursuit of AACSB accreditation, the College of Business Administration participated in the AACSB Core Curriculum Assessment Program, which provides comparative data about students majoring in business. Also at this time, several departments began to collect information on graduate and medical school acceptance rates and performance on certification and licensure exams (e.g., NCLEX & CPA Exam) for program review.
From 1985 on, the University's involvement in assessment grew rapidly. The President and Provost attended a Fall 1985 conference on Quality, Assessment, and Accountability in Undergraduate Higher Education, sponsored by the National Governors' Association Task Force on College Quality. Peter Ewell came to campus to conduct a full-day workshop on assessment for chairpersons and other administrators, and funds were allocated to academic departments, to develop and pilot approaches to assessment in the major. Assessment of student achievement received a formal focus in 1986, when an outcomes assessment task force, including representatives from the community, faculty, and students, was charged with developing an institutional outcomes assessment plan. The plan was approved by the Board of Regents in May 1987. (Appendix 1)
From 1986 through 1990, the Office of the Provost initiated a variety of assessment activities. Institutional Research prepared and distributed a report on graduation rates for the period of 1981-87. The ACT COMP was administered to samples of students as a measure of achievement in general education. Systematic collection of data on entering freshmen, including ACT scores, high school GPA's, and other information, was implemented. University grading patterns were analyzed. Two colleges mandated college-wide assessment requirements. Consequently, all education majors now take CBASE for admission to the program and an NTE test upon exiting, and all business majors take the MFAT in their subject area. In the remaining colleges, several departments adopted MFAT subject area tests as a source of comparative information about their majors, while others explored alternative sources of assessment information. The Division of Student Affairs, too, engaged in a variety of focused assessment activities, including, for example, the ACT Student Opinion Survey, the ACT Withdrawing/Non Returning Student Survey, a residence hall satisfaction survey, and a co-curricular learning survey. Finally, in Spring 1990, the University Planning Committee published a document, Institutional Goals and Objectives for 1990-1995, which formally acknowledged an institutional planning goal of implementing a systematic plan of assessment for all University programs.
In Summer 1990, the position of Director of Assessment was created in the Office of the Provost. Under the Director's leadership, assessment was refined and expanded. In 1990, a committee chaired by the Director undertook a review of the alumni survey and designed an enrolled student survey. The survey of enrolled students was conducted for the first time in 1991-92 along with the revised alumni survey. The University also participated in state-wide assessment activities such as the Survey of Missouri Post-Secondary Students administered by the CBHE in Spring 1993. The Director of Assessment was instrumental in starting the Missouri Assessment Consortium, a group of assessment leaders representing colleges and universities across the state. Because of concerns about time, cost, and validity, use of the ACT COMP as a measure of general education achievement was discontinued. It was replaced by the short form of Academic Profile, which is administered to samples of beginning freshmen and upper-division students. From 1990 through 1993, the Director of Assessment identified areas for improvement in assessment of the major and general education, offered workshops on assessment, assisted departmental assessment efforts, published a campus assessment newsletter (Accent on Assessment), and developed a statement of Student Assessment Principles (Appendix 2). The Assessment Review Committee was appointed in Spring 1993 to evaluate and revise the University's assessment plan and prepare this report. (See Appendix 3 for membership.)