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Outcomes assessment

The timeline for assessment reporting has been adjusted for 2020-2021. Rather than submitting assessment reports in February, DUPs and DGPs can submit their reports in mid-March.

The new assessment report submission dates are:

  • March 19, 2021: DUPs and DGPs submit assessment reports to department heads in the APA application: go.ncsu.edu/APA
  • May 28, 2021: Department heads review assessment reports
  • June 11, 2021: Department heads submit a summary report to their dean’s designee
  • June 25, 2021: Dean’s designee reviews assessment reports
  • July 9, 2021: Dean’s designee submits a summary report to the Provost’s Office

During this unusual year, flexibility and creativity are key. In some or many cases, the data collected will not be from the course(s) or assignment(s) you had originally intended to use.  However, these data can still be valuable. Importantly, these data allow us to ensure quality of student learning across mode of delivery.  As such, the assessment data we collect in the fall can also better help inform us as we plan for the spring semester. Additionally, when we return to “normalcy” in the future, instruction may look different.  In this sense, the data we collect now can be informative as we potentially adapt learning environments and delivery of instruction. As always, it is critically important to discuss assessment findings with colleagues in your department to identify ways to improve student learning.

There is certainly an “asterisk” associated with this academic year in many regards. In the spirit of continuous improvement of student learning and NC State’s mission of teaching excellence as well as the creation and application of knowledge, we urge you to continue to use assessment as a powerful tool to keep moving forward. COVID-19 has certainly impacted the mode of delivery of course content for many of us, and subsequent changes to assessment and the data we are able to collect are expected results. The Office of Assessment and Accreditation and The Graduate School are available to assist you with assessment needs as we all work to the best of our ability to maintain continuity and deliver high quality instruction.  For additional resources for assessment during COVID-19, please visit the assessment resources page.

This spring, campus assessment facilitators will offer drop-in training sessions for DUPs, DGPs, and department heads for assistance with the annual outcomes assessment process. Faculty and staff involved in the assessment process are also welcome to reach out to the assessment facilitators for individual consultations (Dr. Stephany Dunstan sbdunsta@ncsu.edu for undergraduate programs; Dr. Pierre Gremaud gremaud@ncsu.edu for graduate programs). Learn more on the assessment resources page

All graduate degree and transcripted certificate programs (hereafter referred to as academic programs) are required to be assessed annually in the spring in accordance with university regulations.

Assessment plan

Every academic program at NC State must develop and maintain an assessment plan describing measurable student learning and program outcomes as well as appropriate evaluation methods.The university requires an annual assessment report from each academic program; these annual reports provide a summary of recent assessment results, an evaluation of strengths and areas for improvement based on the results, and a description of decisions made and implemented to address areas for program improvement.

  • Learning Outcomes – Outcomes are the knowledge, skills, and other attributes students are expected to come out with as a result of the educational content and experiences of the program. Each program must have a set of comprehensive student learning outcomes which are measurable (i.e., amenable to qualitative or quantitative analysis); the program can measure as many outcomes as deemed appropriate each year as long as all outcomes are assessed within a 3-year cycle. In the assessment plan, outcomes are grouped under objectives, the broader goals that the outcomes are designed to achieve. Current assessment plans for all academic programs at NC State are available at apps.oirp.ncsu.edu/pgas/.
  • Data – Each academic program must collect and use evidence of learning that are aligned with the outcomes such as test questions (not grades) or project related information. The goal is to allow programs to determine not only the extent to which students achieved the outcome, but also to allow faculty to identify both strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Using Results – Each academic program must make clear decisions based on the data collected. Decisions may or may not include changes to the overall program or courses and changes to the program may or may not be big changes. The spirit of the process is that the faculty review the data and make decisions regarding whether changes are needed and, if so, what those changes should be.

Responsibilities of program directors

  • Plan design and faculty engagement – Program directors are expected to lead the efforts to develop, maintain and improve their program’s assessment plan. Ideally, DGPs should engage the entire faculty in the active and continuous enhancement of their program.
  • Data collection and analysis – Program directors are responsible for organizing the collection and analysis of data pertaining to the assessment master plan.
  • Develop and submit yearly assessment reports – Program directors are expected to develop assessment reports meeting the necessary criteria in the rubric for evaluating reports. The reports are submitted to the online Academic Program Assessment (APA) system go.ncsu.edu/apa.

Responsibilities of department heads and/or unit directors

  • Evaluation of program reports Department heads and unit directors are expected to evaluate program reports according to the criteria in the above mentioned rubric and in accordance with the university regulation. Program reports that do not meet these criteria must be returned to program directors for revision.
  • Development and submission of yearly department/unit report Department heads and unit directors must write and submit their unit’s summary report through APA.
  • Organization of the assessment process – Department heads and unit directors are expected to work with the programs under their purview and the involved colleges to optimize the assessment process for individual programs. Issues of relevance include (i) assessment granularity (which programs should be assessed together vs separately), (ii) how can data gathering and analysis be improved, (iii) how to best implement the recommendations from the outcomes assessment.

Responsibilities of deans or dean designees

  • Evaluation of department/unit reports Deans or their designees are expected to evaluate department/unit reports according to the criteria in the above mentioned rubric and in accordance with the university regulation. Reports that do not meet these criteria must be returned for revision.
  • Development and submission of yearly college report Deans or their designees must write and submit their college’s summary report through APA.