Stay up to date with Assessment Update

Assessment Update Every other month, each issue brings you
  • Innovative program models from 2- and 4-year colleges, universities, and community colleges across the country 
  • Advice on conducting assessment in a range of areas, including general education, academic majors, and student services such as advising
  • Analysis of national issues, state accountability mandates, and assessment measures 
  • and more
Subscribe to the e-version: our lowest rate!
Other Publications of Interest
A Bird's Eye View of Assessment
Here, pioneer Trudy Banta illuminates the many facets of assessment in colleges and universities during the past two decades. Addressing the principles of good assessment practice, she gives an insider s perspective and shares the larger questions and answers encountered in assessment. In the final section, she looks at assessment outside the United States. This valuable publication will give you a broader, deeper appreciation of the successes, snares, and future of outcomes assessment.

Stopping the BuckSpecially selected from the archives of the award-winning journal Assessment Update, the articles gathered together in Stopping the Buck offer readers a unique opportunity to take a deep, historical look at outcomes assessment in higher education as it has evolved over the past several decades. Written by Peter Ewell, author of the pioneering work in the field, it tracks, on a state-by-state basis, progress, trends, and practices in outcomes assessment among institutions of higher learning since the 1990s, a time when diminished funding and increased demand for accountability shifted the focus to performance indicators and institutional comparisons.


Editor's Notes

Accentuating the Positive in Our Work

April 23, 2014

As I write this there is a vigorous debate on the ASSESS listserv ( about the advisability of posting departmental assessment findings on a public website. The first to respond argued that in some environments posting negative findings could provoke punitive measures from administrators, or at the least color unfavorably the impressions of the department in the minds of colleagues in other disciplines. The argument that appears to be winning the day is that positive outcomes can be derived if departmental colleagues report for all to see what they are learning from assessment and how they are responding to its findings.

In this issue Linda McHenry observes that the typical approach to studying student retention is to ask, “What went wrong with the students who didn’t stay at our institution?” Her approach is to ask instead, “What are our successful students doing that helps them continue to study at our university?”

Including Faculty in Accreditation Preparation: Boon or Bane?

February 26, 2014

THE ACCREDITATION PROCESS IN higher education has undergone dramatic changes in the past twenty years (Ewell 2005; Volkwein 2010; Wolff 2005), having substantive impact on the nature of institutional research, the creation of a culture of continuous improvement, and the proliferation of resources—both personnel and technology—to assist institutions. Meeting accreditation standards, with their emphasis on student and program outcomes and accountability, has spawned accreditation coordinators who use software such as Compliance AssistTM to streamline their focused accreditation work. Increasingly, the knowledge of the ever-changing accreditation process is the purview of a select few who are assigned this work on their campuses, attend highly specific conferences and workshops designed for them, and participate as reviewers on other campuses to have the “inside track” on what passes muster. Consolidating the process within the ranks of a knowledgeable few can ensure accuracy, commitment to a high-quality product, and adherence to a strict, yet often shorter, timeline; but at the cost of limited input, lack of understanding by many, and little ownership of institutional performance and change. Who is the group most likely to be on the fringe of the accreditation process? The faculty are often the outsiders.

Restructuring the Writing Program at Berkeley City College: Or How We Learned to Love Assessment and Use It to Improve Student Learning

December 18,2013

OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES Famously said, “Once the mind has been expanded, it will never again return to its original size.” As teachers, we like to think of this maxim in relation to our students’ learning. In the writing program at Berkeley City College (BCC), however, we have learned to apply it to ourselves. Through program assessment, we discovered that our thinking about what our students could do was limited, and we learned, with both humility and excitement, to apply this knowledge in order to revamp our program and thereby help our students succeed.

In spring 2011, the BCC writing program embarked on our first portfolio-based program assessment, which guided us down paths we never expected. It changed the way we think about how we can help our students learn and progress to be successful writers and students; consequently, it led to a drastic redesign of our writing program. The process brought us together as colleagues and gave us tools to continually analyze and refine our work. It also taught us to challenge our assumptions and constantly refine our processes for the good of our students.

Join Our Email List
Sign up to receive exclusive content and special offers in the areas that interest you.
Trudy W. Banta

Trudy W. Banta  
Managing Editor

Trudy W. Banta is a pioneer in outcomes assessment in higher education whose career in this area began when she was asked by the chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) to coordinate that institution’s response to Tennessee’s performance funding initiative for public institutions.  Read more

Consulting Editors
Peter T. Ewell
National Center for Higher Education Management Systems

Thomas Anthony Angelo
La Trobe University,
Victoria, Australia

T. Dary Erwin
James Madison University

Cecilia L. Lopez
Harold Washington College

Marcia Mentkowski
Alverno College

Jeffrey A. Seybert
Johnson County Community College

Peter J. Gray
United States Naval Academy

Gary R. Pike
Copyright © 2000-2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. or related companies. All rights reserved.