New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Expectations for the Assessment of Student Learning
Through the 1992 revision of the Standards for Accreditation and the implementation of the Policy Statement on Institutional Effectiveness, NEASC defined ‘institutional effectiveness’ as:
“the capacity of an institution to assess, verify, and enhance the fulfillment of its mission and purposes, giving primary focus to the attainment of its educational objectives.”
The Policy Statement on Institutional Effectiveness defined the assessment of student learning as the essential and core element by saying:
“While assessment is an overall institutional concern, as reflected in the various standards for accreditation, its primary focus is the teaching-learning experience. To the greatest extent possible, therefore, the institution should describe explicit achievements expected of its students and adopt reliable procedures for assessing those achievements.”
Assessment Highlights of the Policy Statement on Institutional Effectiveness
Among the principles it enunciates are the following:
- There is no one best way to assess institutional effectiveness
- NEASC prescribes no formula that an institution must use in measuring or demonstrating its effectiveness
- Successful assessment efforts are compatible with the institution’s mission and its available resources.
- Assessment is not a one-time activity; rather, it is evolutionary, ongoing, and incremental. An institution initially engaging in assessment will likely do so on a limited basis. However, over time, its assessment efforts will be more comprehensive, systematic, integrative, and organic.
- While assessment is an overall institutional concern, as reflected in the various standards for accreditation, its primary focus is on the teaching/learning experience.
- Ultimately, assessment and accreditation share the common goal of enabling the institution to reach its fullest academic potential by providing the highest quality education possible.
Why do assessment?
Sample questions which motivate assessment efforts:
- Student learning
- How well do course objectives track with curricular objectives?
- How consistent is student learning across multiple sections of the same course?
- To what extent are key curricular goals introduced and reinforced from course to course?
- Do student course-taking patterns reflect the most appropriate sequences?
- Are students suitably prepared for graduate school and/or chosen careers?
- Curricular efficiency
- How well do our service courses contribute to the institution’s general education goals?
- To what extent are curricular objectives based on documented evidence of what students need to know and do?
- How many discretionary courses are offered, and is this number excessive?
- How do you reinforce Gen Ed in the major?
- Student success
- What factors cause students to switch to another major?
- What is most responsible for success or failure of at-risk students?
- What is our track record in attracting and retaining students?
- How confident are students in their ability to compete in the marketplace?
- How well do graduates accomplish their career goals?
- AACSB International (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) – Business-specific accreditation
- ABET – Engineering-specific accreditation
- ACPE (American Council on Pharmacy Education) – Pharmacy accreditation planning
- NEASC Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
- UConn NEASC re-accreditation web page
- UConn programs with specialized accreditation