These principles guide Lawrence's approach to the assessment of student learning. They help make assessment manageable and useful to the faculty as we pursue our academic mission.
Focus on mission.
Use the mission of Lawrence (or the department or program) as a starting point for defining outcomes and planning assessment.
Improve (not prove).
Focus assessment on improving the academic program, not accounting to an outside agency.
Inform decisions (not conduct research).
Identify patterns and trends to guide decision-making. Reserve academic rigor for your peer-reviewed research.
Evaluate programs (not students).
Examine work samples from many students to discern patterns. Don't try to evaluate everything and everyone.
Use existing work.
Rate work samples from Freshman Studies, foundation/gateway courses, and Senior Experiences. Probe findings with surveys, interviews, or focus groups to explore what lies behind the data.
Work in cycles and shift focus.
Target specific outcomes during each assessment cycle, making sure to encompass all outcomes within a reasonable time frame.
Iterate and refine.
Tweak your learning outcomes, curriculum, instruction, and assessment to improve alignment, sharpen focus, and promote shared vision. Document these changes in your department reports to show how you "close the loop."
Make it useful.
Report and act on data in a way that directly supports your department’s activities and the university’s planning and reporting requirements.