The University of Saint Mary held its First Annual Assessment Day on October 3, 2012.  Members of the university’s Assessment Committee led the faculty and specially invited staff and administrators (e.g. the President, Vice Presidents, and various Directors) through a review of the current process and most recent results of its internal measures of student learning; the university’s first implementation and results of the Collegiate Learning Assessment; and USM’s use of the National Survey of Student Engagement in 2011-2012 and the data the survey produced relevant to student learning. 

As is appropriate, USM’s process of internal measurement of student learning continues to be a work–in-progress and the faculty took time to once again review the matrix and rubrics used in measuring the agreed upon four learning outcomes identified in Category One: Helping Students Learn.  Much of the presentation and discussion surrounding the CLA and NSSE was focused on reviewing the nature and structure of both assessment tools, as well as the data received from the past year’s implementation.  As the data had only just arrived, the presentation was limited to the most obvious and general issues both seemed to identify. 

The final part of the program was devoted to “next steps,” or “where do we go from here.”  The faculty agreed that it would meet again in January, at its annual Faculty Spring Institute, to analyze in greater depth the data drawn from all three measures of student learning.  The Assessment Committee agreed to provide that data, as well as correlations and other comparisons that can be made among the three measures and what the committee sees as lessons drawn from the data.  The goal for the January meeting is to identify areas which need to be addressed by the faculty with an eye toward improving student performance on our university learning outcomes.

The decisions made at the January meeting will then be sent to the individual academic department most closely aligned with those particular learning outcomes to detail how the recommendations of the faculty will be implemented in their curricula.  The departments will report back to the faculty on University Day, February 27.  The Assessment Committee will also consider what support those departments may need (e.g. summer workshops) to implement those changes by the start of the 2013-2014 academic year, which it will report to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Through this process USM will close the assessment loop for the academic year and institutionalize a new and exciting assessment process, which has been years in the making.