Conducting an assessment involves collecting and analyzing relevant data to get a clear sense of the current state of a campus’s safe and supportive learning environment.
The three types of assessment are outcomes, process, and input. No matter the type of assessment used, a critical element is the collection of data that can measure the learning environment from a variety of aspects, whether the processes, systems, programs, and infrastructure of the institution or the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of students, faculty, and staff. Assessment can take time, but effective assessment of the learning environment provides critical insight for improving outcomes and solving problems.
No single student survey or program evaluation can tell the entire story of the safe and supportive nature of the institution’s learning environment. Those conducting an assessment may need to collect data from various sources, using multiple data sets to make connections between data sets and find correlations between high-risk behaviors, student engagement, student health habits, perceptions of safety, and academic success.
Data alone cannot provide the insights needed in assessment. Collected data needs careful analysis and discussion by multiple stakeholders at various levels in the institution. Utilizing a task force, coalition, or assessment committee with diverse membership from across campus is likely to yield a broad and rich assessment of the current environment.
Ultimately, the goal of assessment is to create a clear baseline for creating goals and plans to accomplish them. Yet assessment reports also can build buy-in across campus and the community by showing the need for new programs; for changes in policies, procedures, or practices; and for means of encouraging new behaviors.