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Ohio University Institutional Impact and Assessment Plan Executive Summary

The North Central Association for the Accreditation of Colleges and Schools now requires that colleges and universities have student assessment plans on file. This plan includes three parts: (1) Ohio University's university-wide assessment program, the Institutional Impact Project; (2) Ohio University's university-wide support of college and department assessment; and (3) Ohio University's college- and department-based assessment of teaching and student academic achievement and learning. In response to the North Central Association for Colleges and Schools 1994 accreditation visit, department-based assessment is emphasized in this plan. Measures of what students learn in their major--student academic achievement--is an important addition to the Institutional Impact Project.

The North Central Association has five criteria for student assessm ent plans: (1) the plan must be linked to mission, goals, and objectives for student learning and academic achievement; (2) it must be carefully articulated with faculty participation but administered university-wide; (3) it must lead to institutional improvement of teaching and learning; (4) the timeline is realistic and appropriate; and (5) the assessment plan must be administered appropriately.

In addition to the North Central Association requirement, assessment information is required by each of the 20 specialized accreditation agencies that recognize Ohio University's programs.

Since 1981 Ohio University has been assessing its students. Done by the Office of Institutional Research, the multidimensional Institutional Im pact Project makes use of both nationally developed assessment instruments and locally developed instruments. Ohio University uses its Institutional Impact Project to examine and make judgments about its quality and its mission.

The Institutional Impact Project has five components. The ACT COMP is a standardized test of general education knowledge and skills. Student t racking, retention, and graduation rate data yield information about retention and graduation. The student treatment study and student involvement study are surveys of current students that assess how they perceive they are treated and the activities in which they are involved. The freshman marketing study is a survey of admitted freshmen that assesses why students apply for admission and enroll at Ohio University. Two follow-up surveys of graduates (one year and five years after graduation) provide outcomes information to colleges and departments. Because most of the Institutional Impact studies included population (not sample) data, it is possible to break down the results by academic units.

To comply with a requirement of the North Central Association, in 1994 the provost asked each academic colle ge to work with its departments' faculty and the Office of Institutional Research to draft department-based assessment plans. They developed learning objectives for their students and the means of assessing the objectives, using existing and new assessments. They identified faculty in their department would be responsible for assessing the students, the assessment timeline, and how the data would be used. The goal of each department's a ssessment was that it would lead to improved learning, teaching, and student services. Department-based assessment activities were designed to address major programs, both undergraduate and graduate, on the Athens and regional campuses.

Departments will provide annual reports, including conclusions, recommendations, and implementation strategies, on their assessments. From the department a summary will go to the college's dean, who will review and comment and either return for revision or forward to the university provost and president. Assessment information is to be used for improving teaching, learning, and student services. Faculty use assessment information to affect change where it will have the most impact--the individual academic unit.

 

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