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College Assessment

Collecting data to improve learning

The Office of College Assessment helps to collect information related to the learning that occurs on campus and the use of that data to improve the educational experience of our students. We assist individual professors at the course level, entire departments/programs at the major level, and those teaching in the general education program by helping to identify the major learning goals to be achieved and how to collect the information to know whether students have met those goals. We also conduct college-wide projects to address issues of students’ engagement, general academic ability, and other special projects. Our staff assists at all levels of a project from design, to data collection, and analysis. We are proud to support the faculty in creating a culture of evidence in support of our teaching methods and positive outcomes with students.

Departmental Assessment
Our skilled professors have developed learning goals and outcomes for each major on campus and collect information about how well students meet these goals. These results are then brought back into the major in terms of course improvements or curriculum changes. By closing the loop, we strive to provide the best learning environment possible.

General Education Assessment
Students take a number of courses outside their major to provide a wide range of academic skills and abilities. Faculty from these courses also have identified the key outcomes for students and look for ways to collect information to show evidence for the learning going on here. We have conducted large scale studies of student writing and academic abilities to allow us to see what can be done within this area to help students graduate with the skills required by the workplace.

College-wide Assessment
There are skills or attitudes that are developed from the wide range of experiences at Saint Mary’s University. With that in mind, we also make use of tools like the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and participate in other projects that help us understand the overall experience of our students. This knowledge is then used to make appropriate plans for how to provide for the right kinds of support to allow learning to flourish. A new project, the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership in the Spring of 2009, will specifically look at the leadership skills of our students and how our college can improve those traits.