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. We invite you to review our Student Affairs Assessment Plan .
The Division of Student Affairs provides co-curricular programs and services that build students' competencies in seven specific areas:
Civic Engagement - Encompasses actions wherein individuals participate in activities of personal, political and public concern that are both individually life enriching and socially beneficial to the community.
Communication - The exchange of information orally, non-verbally and in writing, with individuals, groups and external audiences using multiple modes, including technology and related applications.
Critical Thinking - A habit of mind characterized by the comprehensive exploration of issues, ideas, artifacts, and events before accepting or formulating an opinion or conclusion.
Integrative Learning - An understanding and disposition that a student builds across their personal, curricular and co-curricular lives, from making simple connections among ideas and experiences to synthesizing and transferring learning to new and complex situations.
Intercultural Fluency - Valuing, respecting, and learning from people with diverse backgrounds (e.g., ability, age, culture, economic status, education level, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation). The individual demonstrates, openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences.
Personal Development - Personal development includes both intra- and inter-personal elements. Intrapersonal development refers to an individual’s self-understanding and the extent to which they engage in selecting and living by their personal values and beliefs. Interpersonal development refers to an individual’s ability to build and maintain meaningful and healthy relationships, work collaboratively, and lead others.
Problem Solving - The process of designing, evaluating and implementing a strategy to answer a question or achieve a desired goal.
Many of our learning domains and definitions were adopted/adapted from the following sources: CAS Learning and Development Outcomes; Connecting Credentials: A Beta Credentials Framework; National Association of Colleges and Employers Competencies; VALUE: and Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education rubrics from the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
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 customized list of peer institutions. Visit the Peer Institutions section below to learn more about WCU's peer list.
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. The University is currently engaged in a self-study and anticipates a site visit from the MSCHE in spring 2021. To learn more about MSCHE's Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation, click here.
Listen in as 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 includes questions regarding the role of assessment in Student Affairs divisions, how assessment has been used to make change, challenges related to assessment, and ways staff can use assessment to support the work of the division.
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.
Several organizations coordinate studies that colleges and universities can choose to participate in. These can be particularly valuable for staff who want to understand how their work compares to other institutions. The surveys are often tested for validity and reliability. Often, Institutional Research offices will coordinate one or more of these surveys on a regular basis in order to understand changes in the student experience over time. And in some cases, external surveys are part of a comprehensive data analytics/student success system or package. An Institutional Review Board application is required at WCU for each study and the organizations may charge a fee to participate in the survey. This fee helps cover the cost of purchasing/designing the survey, conducting statistical testing, staffing, preparing reports, and more. A sample of external surveys are provided below.
American College Health Association
Association of American Universities
Healthy Minds Network
Indiana University, Center for Postsecondary Research
Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership
NASPA Consortium Benchmarking Surveys
Ohio Department of Higher Education
Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Skyfactor Benchmark Surveys
University of California, Los Angeles, Higher Education Research Institute
University of Southern, California Race and Equity Center
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. For a copy of the list of evaluators, please contact Amanda Thomas, Executive Director of Assessment and Planning.
Choosing an Evaluator
Organizations may considering hiring external evaluators for several reasons, some of which include the following:
When selecting an evaluator, take the following criteria into consideration:
Bloom's Taxonomy describes the learning process and serves as an excellent resource throughout the learning outcome development process.
Appalachian State University
College of Charleston
University of North Carolina Wilmington
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Western Washington University
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
Central Washington University
Eastern Kentucky University
Grand Valley State University
James Madison University
Stephen F Austin State University
The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga
University of Minnesota-Duluth
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Western Kentucky University
Here are some tools to help with summarizing assessment results:
Introduction to Student Affairs Theories (Martin, G.M.)
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.
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.
|Adam Linetty||Residence Life and Housing Services|
|Adriane Reilly (Co-Chair)||Sykes Student Union|
|Amanda Thomas (Co-Chair)||Assessment and Planning|
|Brynn Cronagle||Campus Recreation|
|Charlie Warner||Student Leadership and Involvement|
|Courtney Kaiser||Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs|
|Devan Zgleszewski||New Stuednt Programs|
|Kate Colyer||Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs|
|Maggie Holroyd||Off-Campus and Commuter Services|
|Phyllis Schoen||Twardowski Career Development Center|
|Sandy Jones||Off-Campus and Commuter Services|
|Sarah Ryan||Student Conduct|
|Sendy Alcidonis||Women and Gender Equity|
|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.