Frequently Asked Questions
- What is assessment?
“Assessment is any effort to gather, analyze, and interpret evidence which describes institutional, departmental, divisional, or agency effectiveness.” (Upcraft and Schuh, 2001) Assessment focuses on effectiveness while evaluation focuses on using assessment evidence for improvement. Research guides theory development while assessment guides practice. To learn more about the differences between Assessment, Evaluation and Research, download this document.
- Why is assessment important?
Assessment in Student Affairs is important because it contributes to student learning, growth, and development; it ensures quality; it helps seek and prioritize resources; it helps in policy development, accreditation, and accountability; and it informs and guides decision-making, learning and action. It provides a mechanism to celebrate and share our accomplishments.
- What is a Learning Outcome and how do I write one?
A Learning Outcome is a statement that describes what a participant should obtain or should be capable of doing after the completion of a learning experience. More specifically, learning outcomes are the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and habits of mind that students take with them from a learning experience. The ABCD Structure of a Learning Outcome includes
- Audience: To who does the outcome pertain?
- Behavior: What do we expect the audience to know or be able to do? The more specific the verb, the better the outcome.
- Conditions: Under what circumstances will the learning occur?
- Degree: At what level does the behavior need to be performed or to what criteria must the student perform?”
For example: “As a result of participating in the Edge presentation at New Student Orientation, students will be able to identify their top three core values.”
- What are the different types of assessment methods (besides surveys)?
Assessment methods are the strategies, techniques, tools and instruments for collecting information to determine the extent to which students demonstrate desired learning outcomes. Several methods should be used to assess student learning outcomes. Direct methods of assessment ask students to demonstrate their learning while indirect methods ask students to reflect on their learning. Tests, essays, presentations, etc. are generally direct methods of assessment, and indirect methods include surveys and interviews. See Assessment Methods for additional information and a listing of assessment methods.
- What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative data?
Qualitative Data is measured by the quality of something rather than its quantity. Qualitative methods of assessment rely on descriptions rather than numbers. They typically involve asking participants broad, general questions, collecting the detailed views of the participants in the form of words or images, and analyzing the information for descriptions and themes. Examples include ethnographic field studies, logs, journals, participant observations, and open ended questions on interviews and surveys.
Quantitative Data, on the other hand, is measured by the quantity of something rather than its quality. Quantitative methods of assessment rely on numerical scores or ratings. They use structured, predetermined response options that can be summarized into meaningful numbers and analyzed statistically. It is the assignment of numbers to objects, events or observations according to some rule. Examples include tracking attendance, Likert scale surveys, checklists and rubrics.
- What assessment-related technology is available?
UTEP’s Student Affairs Division uses various technology platforms to help with assessment efforts. They include Campus Labs, Baseline, Compliance Assist and UTEP’s Center for Institutional Evaluation, Research and Planning.
Campus Labs is a company focused on collecting student feedback to help improve campus services. The Campus Labs platform offers integrated software and cloud-based assessment tools for higher education. Included in the Campus Labs platform are Baseline and Compliance Assist.
Baseline provides the technology, resources, and expert consultation required to create an integrated, coordinated, and comprehensive assessment approach across the campus. The purpose of Baseline is to connect and translate assessment data in order to improve programs and services both inside and outside the classroom
Compliance Assist is an online solution that simplifies and integrates assessment data. It is a fully integrated and comprehensive online solution for managing institutional research and strategic planning needs.
To request access to Campus Labs, Baseline, and/or Compliance Assist, please click here. To log in to any of these platforms, please click here.
UTEP’s Center for Institutional Evaluation, Research and Planning (CIERP) is a clearinghouse for statistical data and a hub of analytical support for decision across campus. CIERP facilitates research-based planning and evaluation processes that are ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide. They house a suite of data tools and/or specific types of data sets instrumental in assessment efforts.
- What is a Culture of Evidence?
A commitment to demonstrate with data that programs offered and services provided are effective and contribute to an institution’s ability to achieve its goals and fulfill its missions.
- How does UTEP’s Student Affairs Division build a Culture of Evidence?
UTEP’s Student Affairs Division builds a Culture of Evidence by encouraging and supporting the creation and sharing of department dashboards and impact reports. It also provides guidance and ongoing training in the form of its Impact Team, a group of Student Affairs professionals dedicated to creating a culture that uses assessment and evaluation practices to incorporate data in strategic planning, decision-making processes, and in the development, execution, and refinement of programs and services. Additionally, every year the Student Affairs Division hosts an Assessment Symposium, where every Student Affairs department is invited to participate in a Poster Presentation. The poster session is an opportunity to highlight various ways in which the department collected and used data in improve its respective operations and services.