The Division of Student Affairs maintains a robust assessment portfolio focused on student learning, satisfaction, retention and success through co-curricular programs and services. Our framework includes seven types of assessment and is carried out by the members of our Division and the Student Affairs Assessment Council, with support from the University.
Watch Dr. Zebulun Davenport (West Chester University), Dr. Cathy Akens (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) and Dr. Laura Bayless (Fitchburg State University) talk about the importance of assessment and storytelling in this webinar entitled Assessment from a Vice President's Point of View. The conversation included questions regarding the role of assessment in Student Affairs divisions, how assessment has been used to make change, challenges related to assessment, and ways in which staff can use assessment to support the work of the division.
The Division of Student Affairs provides co-curricular programs and services that build students' knowledge, skills and abilities in the areas of:
The Student Affairs Assessment Council has developed definitions and rubrics for each of the learning domains and recommends using at least one of the following questions on assessments related to student learning:
iClickers (also known as personal response systems) are handheld devices that participants can use to submit real-time responses to questions during a session. They are useful for guiding conversations during sessions and assessing learning and satisfaction at the end of a program. Approximately 80 devices can be reserved through the WCU Digital Corner. Training on using the equipment and information about how iClickers have been used successfully by others are also provided.
RamConnect (also known as the Campus Groups product) is a community engagement platform purchased by the Division of Student Affairs. Features include portals for community groups (e.g., student organizations, administrative committees), events calendars, news feeds, forms and more. For assessment purposes, RamConnect offers a common place offices to store event attendance data, group rosters, and leadership positions. Pre-/post-tests can be also administered through the forms function.
Qualtrics is a program for designing and administering surveys. Purchased by the WCU Office of Institutional Research and managed by the Division of Information Services and Technology, it provides several survey features with a user-friendly interface.
Campus Labs Baseline is an assessment program purchased by the Division of Student Affairs that provides both rubric and survey capabilities. After sending the survey to our CampusLabs representative, they will work with their team to create the survey in Baseline (please provide a few weeks for the design and editing process).
Infographics and charts are helpful additions to documents that are all text. Visual elements can make the information you share easier for users to understand. The goal should be to efficiently and effectively communicate data in a way that is easy to use and understand for audiences of all levels while maintaining aesthetic appeal. Below is a mixture of free and paid resources that can be used in creating visual designs (e.g., posters, infographics, charts).
The authors of Student Affairs Assessment: A guide for practitioners describe different types of assessment based on the level of assessment complexity (Upcraft and Schuh, 1996). Our division uses these types of assessment as a framework to guide our initiatives and engages in activities to address each of these areas. Our framework is supported and sustained by our assessment infrastructure, which provides the means for carrying these activities. Infrastructure includes, but is not limited to, equipment, software, policies and procedures, assessment plans, assessment scheduling, professional development opportunities and other assessment resources.
|Alignment with Professional Standards||Benchmarking/ Comparison Studies||Outcomes Assessment (Learning)||Campus Climate||Student Satisfaction||Student Needs Assessment||Utilization Data|
Several professional organizations have developed standards to guide the practices of their members. For the Division of the Student Affairs, the majority of these standards are created by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS); however, individual departments may follow standards set by their respective professional organizations (e.g., National Association of Colleges and Employers). Some departments within the Division of Student Affairs also have the option of pursuing formal accreditation for their specific area and have chosen to do so (e.g., Department of Counseling and Psychological Services).
This type of assessment involves comparing aspects of the home institution (e.g., organizational structures, staffing, programs, services, spaces, policies) to other universities and colleges. These studies can be particularly helpful in orienting new leaders, informing strategic plans, and determining whether or not to pursue new initiatives. The success of benchmarking studies depends on the extent to which each peer institution is comparable to the home institution's characteristics (e.g., student population, location, organizational structure). Assessment and institutional research staff are often involved in benchmarking studies and can provide support in creating a tailored list of peer institutions.
Often referred to as "assessment" by faculty, this type of project looks at the level of learning that occurs inside and outside of the classroom. National organizations have published frameworks to guide the development of learning outcomes in higher education (e.g., Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, Association of American Colleges and Universities, National Association of Colleges and Employers). There are typically four levels of learning outcomes: university, divisional, department, and program.
This type of assessment focuses on the quality of a person's experience but is not limited strictly to satisfaction. The term "campus climate" is often used when studying topics such as diversity and inclusion, behavior/conduct, and space layout and design.
Satisfaction assessments look at the quality of a particular aspect of the college experience. These types of assessments may be focused on overall experiences, technology, facilities, programs, services, processes and more.
This type of assessment is used to determine what students need in order to be successful. Topics might include, but are not limited to, health and wellness, academic support, diversity and inclusion, facilities, accommodations, safety, parking, dining, housing, and more.
Utilization studies involve data regarding participation in programs, events, services, etc. This type of data can be combined with a variety of other data to assist staff in better understanding students who are/are not engaged on campus as well as the level of impact programs and services have on the student experience.
For more than a decade, the Division of Student Affairs has contributed to WCU's accreditation through self-studies and external reviews using the standards set for by the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in Higher Education. West Chester University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. To learn more about MSCHE's Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation, click here.
The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) is for faculty, staff and students who are planning research and assessment studies. After completing the training, individuals are eligible to request university approval to share study results externally (through conferences, poster sessions, publications, etc.). This request can be made by submitting an application to the WCU Institutional Review Board. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit IRB applications before collecting data for their study.
CITI training involves a series of online modules and quizzes regarding the study team's responsibility to protect participants from harm, issues the study team may run into during a study, and the ethical principles set forth by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. The Social Behavioral Research - Basic Refresher track is recommended for most Student Affairs staff. Once completed, the certification lasts for three years, at which time the recipient must complete the training again. Courses completed at other institutions may be eligible for consideration at WCU.
For more information about starting CITI training, click here .
Consent forms are the first part the survey and interview process. This form helps the coordinator ensure that participants understand the project before participating. It provides critical information to help the participants understand their rights as participants, how their information will be protected, benefits and risks of the assessment, who they can contact with questions and much more. Creating a consent form can be challenging, especially on the first try. In order to help make the process easier, WCU's Institutional Review Board has created the Consent Form Builder. Click here to get started.
Requests for proposals for large grants typically require an external evaluator to be part of the project team. The American Evaluation Association maintains a list of evalautors by state. A review of the evaluators located in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania was completed in 2018. To learn more about grant evaluation, please contact Amanda Thomas, Executive Director of Assessment and Planning.
Bloom's Taxonomy describes the learning process and serves as an excellent resource throughout the learning outcome development process.
In partnership with NASPA and other professional organizations, CampusLabs has created benchmarking surveys for the following areas:
These can be particularly valuable for staff who want to better understand how their areas compare to other institutions. There is no additional cost for our departments to participate however, an Institutional Review Board application is required for each study.
Here are some tools to help with summarizing assessment results:
Survey invitations and reminder messages can be scheduled in advance in Qualtrics. When setting up the schedule, think about the days and times of the week that participants are mostly likely to have time to take a survey. Sending invitation and reminder messages a little before these times should help ensure the message is at the top of their email at a time when they are available to participate.
It can be helpful to look at past survey submissions to determine the times that have been most popular. If you don't have a past survey to refer to, talk to a marketing person or another group at the university that has recently completed a study to see if they can help. As an example, a review of the 2018 First Destination Survey suggested that the highest number of WCU students completed surveys between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. The top three times were 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Midnight to 1:00 AM was also fairly popular.
Organizations may consider hiring external evaluators for several reasons, some of which include the following:
When selecting an evaluator, take the following criteria into consideration:
For more information about the external evaluator search process and a list of potential evaluators, please contact Amanda Thomas.
Student Affairs uses assessment to provide data that support strategic priorities and initiatives, as well as to improve our programs and services that support student learning, retention, and success.
The Student Affairs Assessment Council is made up of members of the WCU community who are responsible for assessment activities and/or interested in learning more about co-curricular assessment.
To work with staff and faculty to improve the quality of co-curricular programs and services, student learning, retention and success through the intentional use of data.
The Assessment Council will:
Adapted from the previous WCU Assessment Council mission and the University of Oregon Student Affairs Assessment Council.
|Amanda Thomas (Chair)||Assessment and Planning|
|Alexander Hazzard||Center for Trans and Queer Advocacy|
|Chamapuwa Tinago||Residence Life and Housing Services|
|Charlie Warner||Student Leadership and Involvement|
|Courtney Kaiser||Assessment and Planning|
|Jared Brown||New Student Programs|
|Terrell Bennett||Residence Life and Housing Services|
|Justin Brown||Residence Life and Housing Services|
|Kate Colyer||Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs|
|Maegan Cruz||Lawrence A. Dowdy Multicultural Center|
|Phyllis Schoen||Twardowski Career Development Center|
|Sandy Jones||Off-Campus and Commuter Services|
|Sarah Ryan||Student Conduct|
|Sherry Mendez||Wellness Promotion|
|Susan Visoskas||Residence Life and Housing Services|
For additional information about the topics above and the topics listed below, please contact Amanda Thomas, Executive Director of Assessment and Planning.