Templates, other changes simplify assessment reporting

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University’s undergraduate programs are submitting assessment reports that will support the university’s regional accreditation.
“Ideally we want assessment to be useful at lots of levels,” said Kimberly Green, director of the Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning (ATL).
Programs and colleges will use data from assessment to sustain and improve teaching and learning as they make decisions about curriculum and instruction, Green said. The information also will be part of the overall report WSU will submit for accreditation later this year.
“Annual reports by academic programs help us paint a picture of assessment at WSU,” she said.
WSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and has been since 1918, Green said. NWCCU accredited WSU every 10 years, most recently in 2009. But the process is being switched to a seven-year system with smaller reports submitted every two years, she said. Each report will focus on different accreditation standards of NWCCU.
Based on assessment reports received last fall and the new NWCCU standards, ATL created a report template for undergraduate programs to use this fall.
Green said the Provost’s Office and ATL identified six elements of program assessment for undergraduate programs to focus on, which apply in any discipline.  Last year, only two of the elements were required, in order to provide transition to the new reporting process.  However, this year the goal is for programs to include all six elements in their reports.
ATL is does not want to tell departments exactly how to assess their programs, Green said, but rather help them implement and sustain assessment with streamlined methods.
“We’re sharing highlights on our website that show the variety of approaches programs use,” she said. “We respect the needs and priorities of different disciplines and departments.”
Last year, 56 undergraduate, degree-granting programs submitted assessment reports, including University Common Requirements (UCORE) and Honors. Green said she expects similar results this year, but with program mergers the number of reports may be slightly more or less.
Graduate degree programs also are reporting on their assessment, coordinated through the Graduate School.