Assessment and Planning

What is Assessment?

Assessment is the ongoing process of:

  • Establishing clear, measurable, expected outcomes of student learning
  • Ensuring that students have sufficient opportunities to achieve those outcomes
  • Systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well student learning matches expectations
  • Using the resulting information to understand and improve student learning (Suskie, 2009)

Mission of the Student Affairs Assessment Committee

To provide information regarding: student demographics, student expectations and experiences, student engagement, campus climate and the quality and improvement of services and programs provided by the division.

Purpose of the Student Affairs Assessment Committee

To assure that we are effectively promoting student learning and development at the College of Charleston.


What is the basis for the division's assessment plan?

The Student Affairs Assessment Committee may consider the following: Provide leadership and conduct assessment that complements department assessment efforts and measures identified division outcomes.

  • Annually review the department assessment processes and expectations and initiate actions to improve these and strengthen the departments' capabilities to undertake assessment.
  • Review department annual assessment plans and reports and provide feedback to departments to enable continued improvement in the undertaking of quality assessment.
  • Serve as a resource to departments as they undertake assessments and annual reports (workshops, guidebooks, assessment tools, etc.).

Assessment Plan Development

Each student affairs department will design a three-year assessment plan to assess the program and services offered by the department in order to:

  1. Ensure high-quality programs and services through continual feedback and improvement;
  2. Provide data illustrating the educational value that the department’s programs and services add to the student learning experience; and

The department's three-year assessment plan will establish educational goals, measurable outcomes, the assessment instruments, methods and measures to be used, and a plan for dissemination of data gathered for program and service improvement.

Each of the goals and corresponding measurable outcomes will be assessed at least once over the course of the three-year plan. Not every outcome has to be assessed every year, but all outcomes must be assessed at least once during the three-year time period to be used for review.

Develop a realistic number of goals and outcomes. The three-year assessment plan should have no more than a certain number of outcomes.

Assessment plans are dynamic. As we know, some goals and outcomes may be carried over from one-three year plan to another, others will change over time.

The authority and responsibility for the design and operation of assessment is shared by the student affairs staff in each department with support from the assessment committee.


Develop a timeline for planning and implementation. Need to include the development of appropriate resources – website, workshops, etc.

General Characteristics

The assessment plan should:

  • Be linked to the institution's mission, goals and objectives for student learning.
  • Have a conceptual framework.
  • Have student affairs staff ownership/responsibility.
  • Lead to program, departmental and institutional improvement.
  • Use multiple measures.
  • Be cost-effective.
  • Not restrict or inhibit goals of access, equity and diversity established by the institution.
  • Provide a timeline for development and implementation that is appropriate and realistic.
  • Provide for appropriate administration of the assessment.


  • Each department should determine the outcomes for their programs.
  • Outcomes are clearly linked to the mission and goals of the department, student affairs and the college.
  • Outcomes are written in clear, measurable terms.
  • Outcomes address student knowledge, behavior/skills and attitudes/dispositions and services offered to students.

Assessment Instruments, Methods and Measures

Each department determines the assessment instruments and methods used in assessing the outcomes established for their programs.

Different assessment methods and instruments may be appropriate for different programs, reflecting the diversity of our programs and their outcomes. What is important is that the instruments and methods used are appropriate for the outcomes being assessed.

Outcomes are assessed by a variety of direct and indirect measures and through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. The research methods selected should be tailored to the type of data to be gathered and the degree of reliability required.

When possible the assessment should include measures of "value-added", such as pre- and post-tests.

When possible, assessment should occur not only at the end of the experience but also throughout the experience. Assessment that is conducted considering several stages of the experience may yield valuable information for program improvement.

Data Collection, Analysis and Dissemination

Effective assessment planning and processes include:

  1. Clear indication of who will collect and analyze data.
  2. Regular, frequent collection and analysis of data
  3. Clarity about who will get reports on findings and how the data collected will be used for program improvement

There should be annual assessment activity and dissemination of findings. Not every outcome has to be assessed every year, but all outcomes must be assessed at least once during the program-review cycle (three years) in order to provide data for that review.

Assessment activity should be focused on the enhancement of student learning and development, service provision and the student experience through the continual improvement of programs and services.

Disseminating data collected is essential in providing staff and the campus community with information useful to the improvement of programs and learning. Assessment is not an end in itself. Feedback from analysis of assessment data leads to conclusions about current program effectiveness. This, in turn leads to recommendations and plans to improve the program.

Students should understand the purposes of assessment. Some departments should provide assessment information about their programs and services in a variety of student-oriented publications. Some should include students on assessment committees.

Assessment information should be used by the unit doing the assessment to improve student learning, student development and the programs and services which structure that learning. The raw data and findings that result from implementation of an assessment plan will be treated as the sole property of the assessing unit. Electronic submission of reports will be secure, with individuals outside the reporting department having read-only access.

Assessment information may not be used for personnel decisions (except for information provided by the individual), nor for program resource allocation decisions (except for information provided by the unit). Assessment information supplied by individuals or programs may only be for self-comparative purposes and may not disclose information about other individuals or other programs. Other uses not contemplated in this statement may be proposed to the Executive Vice President for Student Affairs, who will determine whether a proposed use is to be permitted or prohibited.