General Assessment Information

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.

Types of Assessment

High Complexity

Low Complexity
Alignment with Professional Standards Benchmarking/ Comparison Studies Outcomes Assessment (Learning) Campus Climate Student Satisfaction Student Needs Assessment Utilization Data

Alignment with Professional Standards

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). 

Benchmarking/Comparison Studies

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.

Outcomes Assessment (Learning)

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.

Campus Climate

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. 

Student Satisfaction

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.

Needs Assessments

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 Data

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.


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.

Learning Domains

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.

Professional Organizations

ACPA Commission for Assessment and Evaluation

NASPA Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Knowledge Community

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