Outcomes Assessment at Springfield College

Download Outcomes and Assessments

Springfield College has adopted an institutional assessment plan to guide the assessment efforts of its faculty and staff members. The Institutional Plan contains two sections. Part one of the plan describes the measures of institutional effectiveness used to ensure that the College is achieving its mission, supporting its students success, and ensuring that all its programs, services, and activities are evaluated regularly. Part two of the plan describes the College’s commitment to the assessment of student learning. Since this section of the plan is a particularly important part of the duties of all faculty members, the details of this portion of the plan are provided below.

Assessment of Student Learning

In support of the NECHE standards of accreditation, faculty members are responsible for the assessment of student learning at the course, program, and institutional level. These assessment activities are a critical component of successful teaching and assist our faculty in improving the learning opportunities and experiences available to our students. The assessment process at the College requires that in each course, and for each program, faculty members will identify the student learning outcomes that are appropriate for that learning experience. Based on these outcomes, faculty members will then develop direct and indirect measures to determine if these outcomes are being achieved, and they will utilize the information collected during the assessment process to improve the curriculum of the college.

In preparing their assigned courses, each faculty member should consult the department’s outcomes assessment plan, and the previous data that has been collected for the undergraduate and graduate programs offered by the department. Individual course outcomes and assessments should be designed to ensure that students completing the course will achieve the outcomes needed to meet the general education and/or program outcomes identified by the department.

Guidelines for Outcomes Assessment

Guidelines for Outcomes Assessment and samples of the kinds of assessment activities expected have been developed by the Outcomes Assessment Task Force to assist faculty members in their work. These include:

Course Based Assessment Guidelines

  • All course syllabi must include 5-6 statements of the learning outcomes anticipated for the course;
  • These outcomes statements should reflect the content approved for the course and the outcomes needed to satisfy program and/or general education requirements;
  • For each outcome identified for the course, the syllabus should describe the assessment strategies that will be used to determine if the outcome has been achieved by the student;
  • The assessments identified in the course syllabus should be used to evaluate the student’s work and to determine their course grade;

A sample course based outcomes and assessment section of the syllabi might look like this:
Students who successfully complete this course will:

  1. Understand and appreciate the steps involved in descriptive, correlational, and experimental research;
    • Assessment via Mid-Term Examination; Analysis of Case Statements; Group Research Project;
  2. Be able to develop a research hypothesis and identify a appropriate research design to test the hypothesis;
    • Assessment via Mid-Term Examination; Review of Primary Literature; Group Research Project;
  3. Correctly identify and utilize the statistical tools needed to analyze the data collected for a research problem:
    • Assessment via Final Examination; SPSS Tutorial Exercises; Review of Primary Literature; Group Research Project;

Program Based Assessment Guidelines

  • All Departments will create program assessment plans for their undergraduate and graduate programs that will be utilized to guide program enhancement and improvement; Each plan will include:
  • 4-6 statements of the desired student learning outcomes for students who successfully complete the program;
  • 4-6 statements of the direct and indirect assessments that the department will use to determine if students have achieved these outcomes;
  • And, via annual reports to the School Dean, a description of the ways in which the data/information collected from these assessment has been and will be used to improve the program;

A sample program assessment might look like this:

1). Statement of 4-6 desired student learning outcomes for students completing the program/major, e.g.:
Graduates of the Latin American Studies program should:

  • Be adequately prepared for graduate school study and/or careers in service to schools and government agencies;
  • Demonstrate a basic knowledge of Latin American history, including a grasp of the major events and the political significance of these events over the past 200 years;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the geographic diversity of Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean Islands and South America;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the diverse cultural, anthropological, and sociological background of Latin America;
  • Be capable of demonstrating the ability to integrate geographical, historical, economic, social, political, and cultural knowledge of this region in an interdisciplinary and comparative way;
  • Be capable of utilizing the appropriate information, methodologies, technology, and research techniques needed for the critical analysis of specific problems in the area of Latin America Studies;

2). Statement of the 4-6 direct and indirect assessments that the department uses to determine if students have achieved these outcomes, e.g.:

The Department of Latin American Studies uses the following assessment methods to determine if program graduates have achieved these learning outcomes:

  • The Department reviews the post-graduation survey completed by the Office of Career Services each year to document whether program graduates have been successful in achieving their career goals;
  • In the spring semester of “even” years, seniors in the program complete the ETS Major Field Test in Latin American Studies as part of their senior seminar requirements.
  • In the spring semester of “odd” years, seniors in the program complete the MAPP SAILS, (Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills),as part of their senior seminar requirements;
  • Annually, members of the department faculty review sample student portfolios to assess student progress in the understanding of Latin American history, geography, and culture;
  • Annually, students enrolled in the senior seminar present completed research projects to a panel of department faculty and guest faculty from area Latin American Studies programs. Students will receive individual grades on their projects, while the panel will develop a summary assessment the class’s progress towards achieving the learning outcomes for the program.

3). Statement of the way in which the data/information collected from these assessments has been and will be used to improve the program, e.g.:

Members of the Latin American Studies program review the data collected via these assessments at the first department meeting of each academic year. The Department Chair, or designee, completes a report summarizing the data collected and suggesting themes that appear in each year’s data. A copy of this report is sent to the School Dean following the Department review and analysis of the information. The Department uses the results of these assessments to make appropriate adjustments to program requirements or curriculum.

During the 2008-2009 academic year, the data and information collected was quite positive.

  • Program graduates reported a high level of satisfaction with the program and 78% of them indicated that they had been accepted for graduate study or were employed in their field.
  • The results of the ETS Major Field Test indicated that our graduates scored at or above the national mean in all subsections of the test except one. In the area of Mexican- American relations, seniors scored slightly below the national average. As a result, revisions were made in LAS322, “The History of Mexican-
  • American Relations” to expand the information provided to students in this area. The Department will monitor this area carefully in subsequent years.
  • Faculty members involved in the portfolio review project, examined the work of 15 juniors in the department who had completed the core course sequence in history, geography, and culture; All student portfolio’s reviewed showed significant progress in each of these areas as each completed the required course sequence.
  • The faculty panel that reviewed the senior research projects completed in LAS499 evaluated the work completed by students very highly. Using a common evaluation rubric with a 1-5 evaluation scale, the panel completed a summary assessment of the class performance by reporting the mean class score for each of the learning outcomes. These data are shown below:
Outcome area Mean Class Score Overall rating
Comparative Analysis 4.2 Superior
Interdisciplinary Perspective 3.8 Good
Research Techniques 4.4 Superior
Information Literacy 4.6 Superior
Critical Analysis 4.1 Superior
  • The summary assessment showed a “superior” rating for comparative analysis, research techniques, information literacy, and critical analysis. The summary assessment showed a “good” rating for interdisciplinary perspective.

Institutional Assessment of Student Learning

At the institutional level, the assessment of undergraduate student learning focuses on the common learning outcomes of our General Education program. In the General Education statement of purpose it indicates that the common learning outcomes for all baccalaureate graduates include:

  • The ability to provide leadership in service to humanity;
  • The ability to communicate effectively in both written and oral form;
  • The ability to think critically within and across disciplines, to interpret information, and to develop well-reasoned conclusions;
  • The ability to read critically, interpretatively, and empathetically;
  • The ability to reason quantitatively and to use mathematical and technological tools for problem solving and analysis;
  • An understanding and appreciation of aesthetic, imaginative, and creative expression;
  • An understanding and appreciation of the scientific process of discovery, critical thinking, and analysis;
  • An understanding and appreciation of the social sciences and historical perspective in comprehending the modern world;
  • The ability to reflect critically on personal, spiritual, and cultural values in order to live an effective and fulfilling life;
  • An understanding and appreciation of the importance of personal wellness and lifelong physical activity in the enrichment of human life;
  • An understanding and appreciation of the opportunities and challenges inherent in a world that is increasingly diverse, multicultural, and international;

General Education courses in each domain must meet defined outcomes in order to satisfy program requirements, (see domain outcomes at - URL). And, recognizing that these outcomes cannot be fully achieved by taking a given course, these outcomes should be reinforced by faculty members across the General Education curriculum as well as in courses within all majors and minors. Assessment of General Education is an on-going process that is based on course based assessments and summative assessment information collected via alumni surveys, the National Survey of Student Engagement, and the Collegiate Learning Assessment.