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Program Evaluation and Assessment: Integrating Methods, Process, and Culture
Unformatted Document Text:  My experiences suggest that campuses should think in terms of three dimensions when developing program assessment. First keep the assessment effort relatively simple and focus on topics of interest to faculty. Ideally, this system will include a mixture of direct, indirect, internal and external measures. Second, assessment processes need to be developed that give faculty members ownership and occasions to be involved in evidence-based dialogue. Various techniques, such as requiring evidence as part of budget requests and planning processes, are helpful in taking assessment efforts beyond a disposition of compliance. Third, leadership needs to frame assessment in such a way that improvement and accountability are effectively blended. Enhancing the quality of higher education programs must be seen as the primary objective. Assessment put in place to support this effort has potential to produce improvements, whereas assessment for its own sake is not likely to go beyond compliance. Most universities still have an amazing amount of flexibility in the methods they can use to meet accreditation and state requirements. Seizing this opportunity to produce effective assessment systems makes it more likely that universities will influence future mandates and potentially receive fewer of them. Institutions and their subunits that make the most of the assessment process, can significantly buffer narrow and specific mandates by presenting required data in the context of additional findings. Choosing from the wide variety of assessment methods available, it is possible to implement assessment that aligns with the values and needs of the department and campus. If successful, higher education may find it much easier to “tell its story” better and to improve both student learning and the critical posture the public currently possesses of higher education. 26

Authors: Young, Candace.
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My experiences suggest that campuses should think in terms of three dimensions when
developing program assessment. First keep the assessment effort relatively simple and focus on
topics of interest to faculty. Ideally, this system will include a mixture of direct, indirect, internal
and external measures. Second, assessment processes need to be developed that give faculty
members ownership and occasions to be involved in evidence-based dialogue. Various
techniques, such as requiring evidence as part of budget requests and planning processes, are
helpful in taking assessment efforts beyond a disposition of compliance. Third, leadership needs
to frame assessment in such a way that improvement and accountability are effectively blended.
Enhancing the quality of higher education programs must be seen as the primary objective.
Assessment put in place to support this effort has potential to produce improvements, whereas
assessment for its own sake is not likely to go beyond compliance.
Most universities still have an amazing amount of flexibility in the methods they can use
to meet accreditation and state requirements. Seizing this opportunity to produce effective
assessment systems makes it more likely that universities will influence future mandates and
potentially receive fewer of them. Institutions and their subunits that make the most of the
assessment process, can significantly buffer narrow and specific mandates by presenting required
data in the context of additional findings. Choosing from the wide variety of assessment
methods available, it is possible to implement assessment that aligns with the values and needs of
the department and campus. If successful, higher education may find it much easier to “tell its
story” better and to improve both student learning and the critical posture the public currently
possesses of higher education.
26


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