Conducting Assessment in Student Life 

What is Assessment?

A continuous process of gathering evidence related to the achievement of departmental or organizational goals. In a higher education context, assessment determines how effectively resources (human, programmatic, financial etc.) are applied to the fulfillment of desirable student learning outcomes.

Assessment of Student Learning and Development

Successful preparation for life after college requires a wide range of knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes that can be greatly enhanced by the activities that occur outside the classroom. Academic and Student Affairs have a shared responsibility for the development or the whole student. Faculty regularly assess student performance through grading of academic work, but there is no universal mechanism for the assessment of student learning outside the classroom.  Student Life also has the important task of fostering institutional commitment and pride within the student body by creating socially supportive and healthy environments.  Effective student life programs lead to outcomes that strong academic programs cannot achieve in isolation, such as deeper student learning, persistence to graduation, leadership, civic engagement, etc.

Goal Setting

Knowing where to start requires dialogue with key stakeholders in your division.  You also need to understand the big picture (e.g., the mission, institutional priorities, etc.) to make sure that what you assessment supports the improvement and overall effectiveness of the College as a whole.  What do you think the College needs from student life to achieve our mission and improve the overall position of the College?  How does your department support these needs?  How do these needs relate to campus climate and student development?

Assessment Checklist
    1. Set department goals for student learning in alignment with one or more key institutional priorities (e.g., Student Retention, Global Engagement, Community Service, etc.). Finalize goals with your chief divisional officer and institutional research.
    2. Draft Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to measure each goal. KPIs should provide actionable data to inform decisions and include annual performance targets.
    3. Chart your progress. Review and update KPIs at least semiannually. Compare actual performance on each KPI to the target performance.
    4. Document how KPIs have supported decisions and progress toward departmental, divisional, and college goals.
    5. Resources Available from the Wheaton College Office of Institutional Research
      • Internal Survey Design and Survey Tools (Qualtrics)
      • Focus Group and Qualitative Data Gathering
      • Pre-existing assessment efforts, First Year Seminar (FYS) survey, NSSE, Senior Exit Survey, First Destination Survey
      • Benchmarking studies, IPEDs, Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS)
      • Institutional Data (Retention and Graduation Rates, Academic Performance, Demographic, etc.)
      • Support for Statistical Analysis and Data Visualization
Schedule Your Appointment this Semester!

Email [email protected] to schedule a personalized assessment consultation for your department.