Professional Development

Assessment from a Vice President's Point of View

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.

Assessment Articles

Cultivating a Data Culture in Higher Education

The Journal of Student Affairs Inquiry

National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Principles of Good Practice


Assessment/Research Ethics Certification

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 .


Student Learning Rubrics, Definitions and Assessment Questions

The Student Affairs Assessment Council has developed definitions and rubrics for each of the learning goals and recommends using at least one of the following questions on assessments related to student learning:

  • What did you learn that you didn't know before attending this program?
  • What can you do now that you couldn't do before attending this program?
  • Have your views changed as a result of attending this program? If so, how?
  • How will you change your behavior as a result of attending this program?
  • How does the information provided in this program connect with what you have learned in class?
  • How does the information provided in this program apply to your life?
  • How can you use this information to make an impact on your community?
  • What future steps are you thinking about taking as a result of attending this program?
  • What questions do you still have after attending this program?


Learning Outcome Development

Bloom's Taxonomy describes the learning process and serves as an excellent resource throughout the learning outcome development process.


Student Development Theory

Introduction to Student Affairs Theories (Martin, G.M.)

Student Affairs Theories (Case Western Reserve University Division of Student Affairs)

College Student Development : Applying Theory to Practice on the Diverse Campus by Wendy K. Killam and Suzanne Degges-White (free through the WCU Library)

Student Development in College : Theory, Research, and Practice by Lori D. Patton, Kristen A. Renn, Florence M. Guido, Stephen John Quaye, Nancy J. Evans, and Deanna S. Forney (free through the WCU Library)


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.


External Surveys

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

  • ACHA National College Health Assessment

Association of American Universities

  • Climate Survey on Sexual Assualt and Misconduct


  • The Outcomes Survey

Healthy Minds Network

  • Healthy Minds Study

Indiana University, Center for Postsecondary Research

  • Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement, Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, National Survey of Student Engagement

Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership

NASPA Consortium Benchmarking Surveys

  • Campus Activities, Career and Professional Aspirations, Campus Recreation, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Mental Health, Orientation, Residence Life, Student Conduct, Student Union Programming

Ohio Department of Higher Education

  • Changing Campus Culture Climate Survey

Ruffalo Noel Levitz

  • Student Satisfaction Survey

Skyfactor Benchmark Surveys

  • Campus Climate, College Union, First Year Experience, Housing and Residence Life, New Student, Orientation, Student Activities, Student Services

Temple University, The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice

  • Real College Survey

The Ohio State University

  • Study on Collegiate Financial Wellness

University of California, Los Angeles, Higher Education Research Institute

  • CIRP Freshman Survey, College Senior Survey, Diversity Learning Environments Survey, Faculty Survey, Staff Climate Survey, Your First College Year Survey

University of Southern California, Race and Equity Center

  • National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates

Peer Institutions

  • Top Five Peer Institutions (The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System)
  • Appalachian State University
  • College of Charleston
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
  • Western Washington University


  • Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Institutions
  • Regional Institutions
  • Bloomsburg University
  • Drexel University
  • LaSalle University
  • Millersville University
  • Pennslyvania State University
  • Rowan University
  • Saint Joseph's University
  • Temple University
  • University of Delaware
  • Widener University
  • Additional Institutions (The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System)
  • 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
  • Towson University
  • University of Minnesota-Duluth
  • University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
  • University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • Western Kentucky University


Focus Groups

Focus Group Quick Reference Sheet
Running Focus Groups Presentation


Reporting and Sharing Results

Here are some tools to help with summarizing assessment results:

Create an Assessment Communication Plan

Using Assessment Results: Promising Practices of Institutions that Do It Well (NILOA)

Assessment Reporting Template


Grant/External Evaluations

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:

  • The funding agency requires an external evaluator as part of a project proposal (standard practice for projects involving a significant amount of funding).
  • The study topic is sensitive and participants will be more comfortable responding honestly if the study is conducted by an external organization.
  • Staff do not have the skills, tools, time, or support needed to conduct the evaluation internally.

When selecting an evaluator, take the following criteria into consideration:

  • Evaluator's qualifications and level of experience working on similar projects
  • Company history
  • Level of company staffing
  • Evaluator's workload and ability to complete the project on time
  • Quality of evaluator's work samples
  • Evaluator's systems and programs access
  • Evaluator's data security practices and confidentiality agreements
  • Evaluator's references
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