Faculty and staff review and assess programs at WNC in order to ensure that these programs are contributing to student growth, development, and overall institutional effectiveness.
While the performance of ongoing assessment and program review is required in order to meet the eligibility requirements of our accrediting authority (the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities), the student-oriented faculty and staff at WNC recognize that the benefits go far beyond maintaining accreditation. The practice and culture of program assessment focuses educators on program goals and affords them a holistic view of those programs–a view educators must have in order to offer the best possible learning experiences to students, including the acquisition of skills, the retention of knowledge, and the development of values necessary to succeed in their personal, professional, and civic lives.
Institutional Research and Effectiveness works with the other members of the Program Assessment and Review Committee (PARC) to facilitate annual assessment projects and five-year program reviews conducted by faculty and staff of all college programs, including degree- or certificate-granting academic programs and administrative programs.
The 2010-2015 Institutional Assessment Plan laid the groundwork for a systematic process moving forward. Certain aspects of the plan, like piloting and implementing robust assessment collection tool, were delayed or replaced, virtually all of the goals or guiding principles listed in the 2010-15 plan have developed as part of the culture of annual assessment and program review. For example:
- Academic assessment is led by teaching faculty.
- Administrative assessment is led by individuals with oversight responsibility in the area.
- Clear learning outcomes and assessment goals are central to a productive review process.
- Assessment is an ongoing (annual) process designed intentionally to cover all aspects of the area being assessed in regular intervals.
- Academic assessment can involve students at the beginning, middle, or beyond the completion of the program.
- Assessment results are valuable, and should be communicated, to the entire college community.
- Formal assessment of programs requires educating the faculty and support staff about the purpose of assessment; developing their knowledge about key concepts in assessment; and aiding them in the acquisition of skills necessary to become proficient in the use of assessment.
The 2015-2020 Institutional Assessment Plan benefits from the cultural growth and momentum created in the previous five years. Academic program reviews are completed on a regular schedule as overseen by PARC, and review processes themselves are reviewed and updated with feedback from program review teams. Administrative program reviews have been completed at a lower rate (measured as component of strategic plan KPI), and the recognition of the gap has led to new conversations and updates to the specific review processes.
Program Review and Assessment processes have distinctly benefited from the addition of a Planning and Assessment Coordinator. This position manages the assessment project collection tool (see assessment Westnet page, secure login required), compiles institutional reports and summaries, and creates reports on institutional projects and priorities to help guide the strategic planning processes with respect to administrative units and standing committees (see strategic planning page, secure login required).
Through process assessments in PARC, institutional dissemination of program review results have been improved. For example, administrative program review summaries are presented by responsible parties, in person, to the Budget Committee and the President’s Cabinet highlighting resources requests/recommendations; academic program review summaries are presented by review teams, in person, during College Council open forums, to the Curriculum Committee, and during ‘all academics’ meetings highlighting resource requests and curricular changes.