Relating to Other Campus Assessment Efforts and Using Available Resources

This chapter discusses using institutional data and other assessment techniques for assessment, assistance available from the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, and external assessment resources.

Using Institutional Data, Transcript Analysis, Curriculum Review, and Anecdotal Records

Use of Institutional Data - information that the University collects including data about students, courses, and programs

Use institutional data to:

  • explore demographics, enrollment patterns, and degree statistics.
  • examine longitudinal patterns related to the available data.
  • supply additional information about participants of other types of assessment activities.
  • gather information at the department or college level.

Institutional data are all-inclusive, meaning that the data has been gathered for all courses, all students, etc. The amount of data is large and extends over time. Institutional data can be linked with other assessment tools such as surveys to provide additional demographic information about respondents. It can also supply an assessment team with information about the extent to which survey respondents differ from all students. Institutional data is collected consistently over time allowing for longitudinal information that can be used to track issues such as enrollment trends over time.

Institutional data are most often available through a mainframe computer system or numerous databases and is limited in the topics it covers. Accessing and selecting the correct information may require computer programming experience, access to the computer systems or databases, and familiarity with the computer system and the data.

Transcript Analysis - using the student database to examine course-taking or grade patterns

Use transcript analysis to:

  • obtain a snapshot of a group of students at a particular point in time.
  • explore what classes students took and in what order.
  • examine patterns in student grades.

Transcript analysis allows a department to obtain a more complete picture of its students. Are majors who follow a particular course-taking path more likely to succeed? Do department introductory courses attract students to the major program? What path through general education courses seems to be most effective for the department majors?

Review of Curriculum Materials - systematic review of course syllabi, textbooks, exams, and other materials

Use curriculum review to:

  • clarify learning objectives.
  • explore differences and similarities between sections of a course.
  • assess the effectiveness of instructional materials.

A review of materials basic to classroom instruction provides information invaluable to enhancing any assessment effort.

Anecdotal Records, Logs, and Journals - maintaining records of classroom activities, student responses, or faculty impressions

Use anecdotal records to:

  • examine how students and faculty react to specified instructional methods.
  • pilot new textbooks or other materials.
  • explore student perceptions of certain aspects of the course.

Assessment usually relies on a systematic collection of information, but more informal observations can often be just as useful. (What is going on in the classroom? What works and what does not?)

Using Interviews and Unobtrusive Measures

Interviews - gathering information in a focused, one-on-one conversation

Use interviews to:

  • obtain information on a deeper level than a survey would allow.
  • explore issues of concern to the department.
  • secure information to use in designing a survey.
  • facilitate more personal contact with long-distance subjects than a survey would permit.

Types of Interviews

  • standardized interview with closed responses: A set of standardized questions is prepared and asked of each participant. The role of the interviewer is simply to ask the questions and record the responses. The only information that is gathered is that which is specifically requested, making the standardized interview simply a verbal version of the paper, web, or on-line survey.
  • standardized interview with open responses: The interviewer uses a set of standardized questions to elicit open-ended responses. Participants are encouraged to talk at length on these items.
  • non-standardized interview: This is essentially a conversation between the interviewer and the participant in which they agree to discuss the participant's views of the subject matter. No set of questions is asked. The interviewer merely probes the participant on his/her opinions or perceptions on a particular topic.

Unobtrusive Measures - observation or record keeping of student use of facilities and services (This form of assessment provides data that can be correlated with test scores and/or course grades.)

Use unobtrusive measures to:

  • record observable behaviors.
While test scores and survey results can indicate how much students are learning and how they feel about the process, observing student behavior can tell a great deal about how they learn. What do students do outside the classroom? Which out-of-class behaviors and activities seem to lead to better in-class performance?

Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness as An Internal Assessment Resource

The Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness can lend assistance in…

  • developing effective learning goals.
  • developing measures.
  • providing data such as samples of enrolled student or alumni demographic data.
  • analyzing quantitative and qualitative results.
  • interpreting and reporting results.
  • identifying examples from other departments (at Miami and beyond).

Office of Institutional Effectiveness Surveys That Can Be Mined for Assessment

  • Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement
  • National Survey of Student Engagement
  • Graduation Survey
  • First Destinations Survey

See Student Surveys for details. Appropriate procedures must be followed to ensure confidentiality.