Administrative Guidelines for Academic Department Chairs

Section Seven – Program Assessment of Student Learning

  • Program Assessment of Student Learning – 7:1
  • Ongoing Assessment Activities – 7:2

Program Assessment of Student Learning– 7:1

In order to promote the academic quality of the department’s programs, Chairs should coordinate with the Department’s Program Assessment Liaison in the regular assessment of student learning and in organizing external reviews.

Ongoing Assessment Activities – 7:2

Each department should select a Program Assessment Liaison (PAL) to coordinate the assessment efforts. Due to the ongoing and continuous nature of assessment of student learning, it is recommended that the PAL is not also the chair.

Each department has developed an Assessment Plan. These plans describe each department’s desired learning outcomes, assessment measures to be carried out, and methods of interpretation and reporting of data. Departments should annually review their assessment plan to determine which assessments will be carried out and by whom. If outcomes or assessment methods change, the department’s Assessment Plan document should be revised to reflect those changes.

Although the PAL coordinates the department’s assessment activities, Chairs are responsible for ensuring that all department members are familiar with the following:

  • Stated learning outcomes should reflect the department’s mission.
  • Assessment measures should be directed at discerning whether students are achieving those desired outcomes.
  • Measurement activities should be practical and achievable and should, wherever possible, take advantage of the work the department already does in the course of examining and refining its programs. They should not significantly add to the department’s workload.
  • The purpose of assessment is to use what is learned to guide decision-making about student learning in the department’s program.
  • The PAL will prepare the Annual Assessment Report and submit to the College Assessment Director, who determines the form and content of the report. Chairs are encouraged to provide input and feedback on the report.

Assessment is a shared responsibility, and should be an occasion for regular departmental conversations about student learning in the context of its mission. Funds are available from the Provost’s Office for assessment activities, including postage for surveys, departmental assessment retreats, etc. Other resources for assessment include:

  • College Assessment Director: meets regularly with PALs as well as with the entire department to provide ongoing assistance and resources for successful implementation of assessment of student learning; contact Carolyn Dobler (dobler@gustavus.edu or x7481). The Kendall Center Associate for Engaged Learning Association for Evidence-Based Learning works with individuals or departments in implementing best practices in student learning; contact Dan Moos (dmoos@gustavus.edu or x7448).
  • Alumni Office: provides addresses of graduates for a survey (majors and/or minors); contact Ron Timmerman (ront@gustavus.edu or x7516).
  • Career Center: for information on internships; contact the Career Center at x7532.
  • Library: maintains a spreadsheet of student research presentations searchable by department; contact Jeannie Peterson (jpeter13@gustavus.edu or x7556).
  • Institutional Research: to discuss survey instruments and review instrument design; contact David Menk (dmenk@gustavus.edu or x6539).
  • Program Assessment and Development Committee: for discussing assessment issues, reviewing plans, etc.; contact the committee chair, as listed in the “Green Pages“ of the Faculty Book online.


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Last modified: 11 July 2013, by Shanon Nowell