Conducting Assessments

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.

Multiple data sources paint a clearer picture.

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.

Effective assessment is a group process.

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.  

Establish a baseline that can produce shared campus goals.

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. 

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Featured Resources

Cover image - Tracking Transfers: New Measures of Institutional and State Effectiveness in Helping Community College Students Attain Bachelor's Degrees

Proposes metrics for measuring the effectiveness of states and two- and four-year institutions in enabling degree-seeking students who start at community colleges to earn a bachelor's degree. The metrics are then used to assess student data from different institutions of higher education. The report specifically focuses on outcomes of lower-income students in comparison to higher-income students.

Davis Jenkins, John Fink
cover photo of the report - Methods for Assessing College Student Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs

Offers a straightforward method for gathering and reporting student survey data on substance use-related problems. Administrators must understand the nature and extent of these problems at their institutions in order to develop effective programs and policies to reduce alcohol- and other drug-related (AOD) problems on campus.

The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention
Screenshot of web page content - ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation

Provides a library of information concerning assessment, evaluation, and research methodology. Resources include tutorials, FAQs, abstracts, digests, journals, web links, and other publications.

Allows users to browse and compare information about affordability, diversity, and student success in higher education. Users can view snapshots of important data, dig deep into a topic of interest, or explore all available data to create their own dataset. 

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