SUNY Plattsburgh’s assessment process fosters a culture of continuous and collaborative improvement. Its purpose is to ensure a rewarding academic experience for students and to help the college meet both its institutional goals and the standards set by external accrediting agencies.
All academic and non-academic departments and units of the college are required to conduct ongoing assessment of the overall effectiveness and efficiency of its programs or services. In addition, units that provide academic and co-curricular activities assess student learning outcomes to improve courses, curriculum, and other aspects of students’ Plattsburgh experience.
Assessment processes at SUNY Plattsburgh ultimately focus on evaluating achievement of our mission, to prepare students for academic, professional, and personal success. Details about assessment can be found in the Campus Assessment Plan. Formal assessment is organized around four interrelated systems: general education program assessment; academic department and administrative educational support unit assessment; external program evaluation; and, institutional effectiveness activities.
General Education Program Assessment
SUNY Plattsburgh’s general education program includes robust assessment of student learning. General education assessment is facilitated by the campus assessment fellow, a faculty member who organizes data submission, compiles and analyzes submitted data, and reports and disseminates results. The assessment fellow maintains the General Education Assessment Moodle resource site, which includes videos, guides, rubrics, and submission links for assessment data — all designed to help faculty devise meaningful assessment of student learning in general education courses.
The new Cardinal Core Curriculum builds in assessment from the beginning by requiring that all course proposals include a course outline that demonstrates alignment between course student learning outcomes and Cardinal Core category learning outcomes. Course proposals must also specify examples of course activities and artifacts used to assess how students meet outcomes. Guidelines based on the AAC&U VALUE rubrics have been developed by the assessment fellow in collaboration with faculty to score student work and measure attainment of the outcome. To close the assessment loop, aggregated results of general education assessment are shared with instructors for recommendations.
Final reports are accessible to the campus community in the General Education Assessment Reports folder on the academic affairs community site.
Academic Department & Administrative/Educational Support Unit Assessment
Each campus unit conducts assessment activities on an ongoing basis, with annual reports submitted within divisions. All areas include operational assessment of the unit’s objectives; academic and co-curricular areas also assess student learning.
Once outcomes are established that are clear, measurable, and linked to the campus mission and priorities, they form the basis for assessment plans. Faculty and staff review attainment of outcomes on an annual basis. Each outcome is assessed at minimum every three years with results for each year recorded per divisional standard. These decentralized assessment reports are submitted to the applicable dean or vice president.
Academic assessment of student learning relies on both direct and indirect measures of student learning. Student papers, projects, exams, discussion forums and other assignments are the primary elements used for assessment, supplemented by surveys that may be administered to current students or alumni. Professional preparation programs monitor external licensing and certification exams in addition to programmatic indicators. Assessment results could signal recommended changes in a course, the program or pedagogy.
External Program Evaluation & Accreditation
In addition to annual assessment, each academic unit undergoes periodic evaluation at a minimum of every seven years, or up to every 10 years for an accredited program per the SUNY Policy on Assessment, as further explained in the SUNY Assessment Procedures document (July 2010). Department chairpersons coordinate and produce a formalized, detailed self-study of student learning achievements in the program, in addition to other areas. External evaluation may be conducted by experts from other institutions or by programmatic accreditors and includes an on-site visit. Evaluators typically meet with faculty, chairpersons, deans, the provost, the president, student support staff and students. The ensuing reports are valuable sources of innovation and used to support improvement initiatives.
External review is a mandated step in new program development. Criteria for the process and content of the review is slated by SUNY and the New York State Education Department. The evaluators’ reports as well as the institutional response to findings must be submitted with the proposal.
Additional information regarding both program and course assessment is provided by multiple offices, surveys, data and analysis. Critical surveys include the First Destination Survey, compiled annually by the Career Development Center; the periodic National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE); and the SUNY Survey of Student Opinion. Survey results and analyses are made available to the campus community via email, presentations and summary reports. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE) coordinates surveys distributed to large groups of stakeholders, as well as maintaining the survey policy to track and better coordinate survey efforts.
The OIE also supports student learning assessment by producing and sharing a variety of reports on program headcount, degree production, and retention. These reports are made available to the campus community using a shared drive and the data resources webpage. Additional data, including graduation rates and other consumer right-to-know information, can be found on the OIE and other departmental web pages. A number of on-demand online reports have also been built to aid department chairs, deans, and other campus leaders in evaluating program effectiveness. The OIE also works with users to create customized reports on such metrics as course pass rates (DFW analysis), course fill rates, and faculty teaching load.
Guided by its director, the OIE conducts the following assessment activities:
- Proposes policies and procedures to the Assessment Advisory Committee and the provost.
- Facilitates unit assessment plans and procedures.
- Facilitates the procurement of instruments.
- Reviews unit assessment plans with the chairpersons of the Assessment Advisory Committee and the Executive Council.
- With the chairpersons of the Assessment Advisory Committee, prepares an annual report to the provost and the Faculty Senate on the state of assessment at Plattsburgh.
- Assists in the development of assessment instruments and strategies.
(Approved by Faculty Senate September, 2002)
Assessment Policies & Guidelines
- Departments, centers, and programs may require students to complete designated assessment activities as a graduation requirement, provided such requirements are approved by the same process as other graduation requirements. (Adopted by the Faculty Senate 12/4/90; approved by Pres. Warren, 1/10/91)
- All departments and units of the college, academic and non-academic, will undertake annual assessment of their programs. Plans for undertaking assessment and the results of assessment activities will be reviewed periodically by the dean and/or vice president responsible for each unit and reported to the Faculty Senate and Executive Council. (Adopted by the Faculty Senate 3/12/02; approved by Pres. Judson 10/7/02)
- The right to privacy of all individuals (students, faculty and staff) must be respected. Any and all assessment involving the use of human subjects must be cleared through the Committee on the Protection of Human Subjects.
- Every effort will be made to insure that the process of data collection has minimal adverse impact on faculty, staff and students.
- Student involvement and support is welcome.
- Only summary information regarding the nature of assessment activities and results needs to be reported by departments and other units to the dean, other administrative offices or the Faculty Senate.
- Assessment activities themselves need to be assessed in a timely manner.
The Assessment Advisory Committee is co-chaired by the associate vice president for academic affairs and the campus assessment fellow. It provides consultation and information on policy and procedures relevant to assessment and shares assessment results.
Membership is broadly representative and includes the provost (ex-officio), the director of institutional effectiveness, the vice president for academics of the Student Association, two students (one graduate and one undergraduate), a dean, and representatives from all divisions of the institution. Members serve staggered three-year terms.
The Faculty Senate holds responsibility to review assessment policy, review and approve plans for general education assessment, and receives reports on assessment activities prepared by the Assessment Advisory Committee.