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Academic Program Assessment Cycle Summary

Both SACS and the THECB require that ASU engage in and report on program level assessment. The following is an outline of the assessment cycle at ASU. This cycle is intended to produce continuous improvement across the programs at ASU in regards to student learning. ASU places primary responsibility for the content, quality, and effectiveness of the curriculum with its faculty, in accordance with university best practices and in compliance with SACS comprehensive standard 3.4.10.

Below is a summary of the assessment policy at ASU. The complete set of protocols and expectations, including calendars and timelines, is available in the Guidelines for Academic Assessment document. The Director of Assessment within the Office of Accountability is the manager of ASU’s academic assessment process. Contact the Director, Dr. Kraig Schell ext. 6128.


Step 1: Construct/review/revise planning and  assessment components

  • All academic programs must have the following elements in place: mission statements, student learning outcomes (SLOs), curriculum maps, and assessment devices (with rubrics) Additionally, all programs must identify goals for continuous improvement in both the Assessment and Planning modules of SPOL. 
  • All elements must be reviewed and approved by the College Dean and the University Academic Assessment Committee (UAAC). Guidelines for creating these elements can be found in the Guidelines document, linked above.
  • Programs subject to discipline-specific accreditation can utilize the assessment and planning protocols required by those external entities for our local assessment process.
  • Assessment element review is conducted on a four-year audit cycle. In non-audit years, program managers may submit an Assessment Change Request form (ACR) requesting approval of any modifications.
  • An ACR template and an Excel template for curriculum mapping will soon be available on the Office of Accountability Blackboard site.

Step 2: Identify sections for assessment

  • Program assessment must be completed annually at the point where each SLO is considered to have been “completed” or “mastered.” It is the responsibility of the Academic Program Manager (APM) in each program to identify these courses/sections and work with the teaching faculty to plan the assessment event.
  • Assessment for the THECB Core must be completed biennially according to the Core Assessment Matrix. This means that the Core assessment process is a “one year on, one year off” system. It is the responsibility of each program’s APM to identify a maximum of four (4) sections of each Core course scheduled for assessment and work with those teaching faculty to plan the assessment event.  


Step 1: Deliver assessment device(s)

  • Our program-level assessment system is a summative system, so reportable data to SPOL must reflect completed learning on the program SLOs. Programs are absolutely welcome to collect formative data on SLOs as well, but it is not required.
  • All assessment devices must have been reviewed and approved by the University Academic Assessment Committee. It is NOT allowable to create devices “on the fly” or to allow faculty to have complete freedom to use whatever methods they choose.
  • It is recommended that the assessment event be completed within the final third of the course so that students have had the maximum time available to learn the material.
  • Unless your discipline-specific accrediting body requires it, ASU does not require student-level data to be reported.

Step 2: Collect required data for SPOL entry

  • Each measurement event must include the following data: 1) sample size; 2) grand mean on the assessment instrument in raw units; 3) that grand mean converted to a ratio.
  • The grand mean should reflect the scores obtained by the sample on the assessment device. It SHOULD NOT reflect the ratio of students meeting the benchmark expectation.  

Step 3: Insert data into SPOL and complete PAR

  • It is the responsibility of the APMs to record measurement data for their programs into the SPOL database. This task must be completed by August 15 for the academic year immediately preceding.
  • The Program Assessment Report (PAR) is a brief summary of assessment data and evaluative planning submitted for approval through the College Dean and the UAAC. The PAR must be completed and submitted to the Dean by the third Friday in September of the following academic year.
  • A PAR template will soon be available on the Office of Accountability Blackboard site.


  • It is the responsibility of the APMs to engage program faculty in a discussion of obtained assessment results for the purpose of constructing continuous improvement plans. The methods by which these interactions occur are at the discretion of the program managers.
  • Qualitative data evaluating the results of each assessment event and identifying opportunities for growth and improvement MUST be documented in the SPOL database for each SLO after each assessment event.
  • Consider the following questions to help you evaluate your programs:
    • Are different assessment methods needed?
    • What strengths and weaknesses in student learning were found?
    • Do benchmarks need to be increased or lowered?
    • Are curricular changes needed in the program?
    • Is professional development needed for faculty in the program?
    • Do learning goals or student learning outcomes need to be revised?
    • Do rubrics need to be revised?
    • Are additional resources required?

Linking to Institutional Effectiveness

  • A program’s assessment results and plans for continuous improvement should be linked to the program’s strategic planning and operational objectives. Operational objectives in SPOL should be clearly connected to assessment results, whether those are pre-existing objectives or new ones. 
  • Unit-level planning should align with TTUS priorities, ASU’s master goals, any college-level goals or initiatives, and other relevant aspects of ASU’s strategic plan.
  • The results from assessment of student learning outcomes will not be used for the evaluation of faculty or administrators.
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