Southeast Missouri State University

Executive Summary

Southeast's original assessment plan, approved by the Board of Regents in 1987, specified directions for the development of assessment in University Studies, the undergraduate major, and teacher education. It also recommended that a review of the assessment program should be conducted after a five-year implementation period. The ad hoc Assessment Review Committee was appointed in 1992-93 to conduct the review and develop a revised assessment plan for the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities. The revised plan incorporates many of the accomplishments of the preceding years while recommending further refinements and additions that should strengthen the use of assessment results for continuous program improvement. The resulting plan exhibits the five characteristics of an assessment program recommended by NCA. 

  1. Southeast's assessment plan is "linked to the mission, goals, and objectives of the institution for student learning and academic achievement, including learning in general education and in the major. " The University's Statement of Institutional identity commits the institution to the creation of an intellectually challenging learning environment, which includes a forty-eight hour general education program based on nine measurable objectives, and undergraduate and graduate programs in business, education, liberal arts, health and human services, and the sciences and technologies. The assessment plan specifies methods for assessing student academic achievement in general education, the undergraduate major, and graduate programs and for monitoring the quality of the learning environment. 
  2. Southeast's assessment plan provides "evidence that faculty have participated in the development of the institution's plan and that the plan is institution-wide in conceptualization and scope." The NCA assessment plan was developed by an institution-wide committee consisting of faculty representatives from each college and school, campus leaders in assessment, and representatives from the divisions of Student Affairs and Finance & Administration. The plan was shared with the Deans Council, college councils, and Chairpersons Forum for comment and suggestions. The plan was approved by the Assessment Review Committee, Academic Council, and Administrative Council.
  3. Southeast's assessment plan is likely to "lead to institutional improvement when it is implemented" Results from assessment activities have led to changes in curriculum, special projects intended to improve teaching and learning, and changes in advising procedures. The Assessment Review Committee revised the existing assessment program so as to place a greater emphasis on the use of assessment for institutional improvement. Clarified reporting procedures should increase awareness of assessment information, and the closing of "the improvement loop" in revised departmental assessment plans should encourage departments to use results for continuous program improvement. 
  4. Southeast's assessment plan is guided by an appropriate and realistic timeline. The primary components of Southeast's assessment program have already been implemented. Planned changes, such as revision of departmental assessment plans and incorporation of assessment information into annual departmental reports, can be accomplished in the one to two years proposed by our timeline. Where more time is needed--for example, to increase the breadth and depth of assessment in University Studies--a longer time period is allotted. The proposal to conduct a general review of assessment in 1997-98 is timely in that it allows three years for current plans to come to fruition and will lead naturally into the institutional self-study that will commence in 1998-99. 
  5. Southeast's assessment plan “provides appropriate administration of the assessment program." To maintain a clear link between assessment and program improvement, assessment must be undertaken primarily by the units that deliver academic programs. Hence, the plan affirms that assessment of academic programs will be designed and administered by departments, colleges, and schools. On the other hand, responsibility for assessment is not so decentralized that assessment activities escape review in terms of institutional priorities and commitments. The School of University Studies has created the position of Director of Planning and Assessment to unify program review in general education with assessment. The Assessment Review Committee reports directly to the Provost, and the position of Assistant Provost has been recast to include responsibilities for both program review and assessment.