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Assessment Policy and Procedures

We are committed to continuous improvements driven by assessment results conducted by the Office of Assessment and Accreditation (OAA) across all areas and levels.  In parallel to institutional-level evaluations, we assess the outcomes of academic programs, administrative, and co-curricular units as proscribed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. (SACSCOC).

The primary purpose of this policy is to outline the requirements for assessing outcomes and the use of results; thus, providing improvements for the academic programs, administrative, and co-curricular units. Secondly, to define the roles and responsibilities for the assessment processes ensuring compliance with this policy and standards established by SACSCOC.

Scope of Applicability

This policy applies to the following programs and units.

  • Academic degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels
  • Administrative and co-curricular units that support academic programs

Policy

UHCL's assessment process requires programs and units to articulate expected outcomes derived from their primary work. Such work could involve enhancing student learning and educational program quality, research, public engagement, academic and student support services, or administrative operations – and then measuring their success and making improvements based on the results.

The University requires academic programs, administrative, and co-curricular units defined above to prepare and submit the following to the Office of Assessment and Accreditation (assessment@uhcl.edu).

  • At the beginning of the academic year: An assessment plan will contain a mission statement, its expected unit outcomes (administrative units create program outcomes, and academic programs and co-curricular units create program outcomes and student learning outcomes) mapped to the University’s strategic objectives, appropriate assessment method(s) to evaluate these outcomes, and performance goals/benchmarks.
  • At the end of the academic year: An assessment plan will contain results, an analysis of results, and use of results, a description of how the results will be used to improve the unit in the future.

These assessment plans are required in addition to any other evaluation-related reporting obligations, such as those for program review, core curriculum assessment, specialized accreditation, five-year reviews of centers and institutes, and sponsored research.

Procedures for Outcomes Assessment

Outcomes assessment involves systematically collecting and analyzing evidence to determine how well the program/unit is accomplishing its intended purposes and – most importantly – using the findings to improve performance. Outcomes assessment also measures the quality and impact of the program’s and unit's services to its stakeholders and in fulfilling the University's mission.

Principle steps involve:

  • Establishing expected outcomes that correlate to University’s strategic plan objective(s)
  • Measuring, observing, and documenting the degree to which outcomes are achieved
  • Findings ways to improve based on your measures and observations
  • Implementing improvement plans for the following assessment cycle

Roles and Responsibilities

The Senior Vice President and Provost has overall responsibility and oversight for outcomes assessment processes for academic programs, administrative, and co-curricular units.

Deans, Vice Presidents and Associate Vice Presidents are responsible for ensuring that all academic programs, administrative, and co-curricular units within their respective organizations have assessment plans, carry out assessments that meet prescribed standards. Each dean, vice president, and associate vice president will appoint one or more assessment liaisons to manage the assessment process and serve as the point of contact to the Office of Assessment and Accreditation.

Assessment liaisons will be responsible for reviewing assessment plans, providing feedback to faculty and staff to improve their assessments' quality, and providing the dean, vice president, and associate vice president the plans for approval before submission to the Office of Assessment and Accreditation.  Assessment liaisons must participate in periodic activities sponsored by the Office of Assessment and Accreditation. Assessment liaisons are also members of the UHCL Assessment Committee.

The Office of Assessment and Accreditation will offer training to assessment liaisons and program faculty about effective assessment practices. They will publish the annual calendar of due dates for plans and reports and provide templates and other assessment resources through their website and email.  In addition to maintaining a central repository for assessment plans, they will also review these documents for compliance with standards, provide feedback to assessment liaisons on necessary changes, and report to the Senior Vice President and Provost concerning policy compliance and opportunities for process improvement.  OAA will complete a summary report which will be submitted to the Senior Vice President and Provost in addition to including assessment plans in the institution’s accreditation report when applicable.

Definitions

Academic Program:  A formal course of study that leads to a degree.

Administrative Unit: An organization with a mission that does not include offering credit-bearing courses that lead to a degree, but instead provides services and operational support to fulfill the University's mission.

Assessment Plan: A document that articulates the program or unit's mission, the intended outcomes of its work, methods to be used to measure these outcomes, and targets for determining success.

Co-Curricular Unit: An organization with a mission that does not include offering credit- bearing courses that lead to a degree, but does address student learning activities in addition to providing services and operational support in fulfillment of the University’s mission.

Program Outcomes: Describe the program’s and unit’s fundamental purpose(s), and how the program/unit contributes to the achievement of the University’s mission. They are typically focused on the quality and impact of the program/unit's work instead of the completion of tasks.

Student Learning Outcomes:  Statements that describe what students should know, think, and do upon completing a course, project, activity, or academic program.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

The development of the policy is to ensure UHCL's compliance with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Accrediting Standards https://sacscoc.org/accrediting-standards/. The consequences of failure to comply with SACSCOC requirements include sanctions and possible loss of accreditation. The Principles of Accreditation (POA) is at https://sacscoc.org/app/uploads/2019/08/2018-POA-Resource-Manual.pdf

The POA that directly addresses outcome assessment are as follows:

Institutional Planning and Effectiveness, Section 7 | Standard 7.3
The institution identifies the expected outcomes of its administrative support services and demonstrates the extent to which the outcomes are achieved.  (Administrative Effectiveness)

Student Achievement, Section 8 | Standard 8.2.a
The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of seeking improvement based on analysis of the results for each educational program's student learning outcomes. (Student outcomes: Educational Programs)

Student Achievement, Section 8 | Standard 8.2.c
The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of seeking improvement based on analysis of the results for academic and student services that support student success. (Student outcomes: Academic and Student Services)

References

UHCL's Assessment Policies and Procedures are based on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policies and Procedures.