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Program Assessment

Valuable assessment makes the best programs and services even better by tracking progress toward goals and objectives. Student Development units are actively engaged in evaluation efforts in support of student success.

What is Assessment?

Assessment: Any mechanism for systematically collecting, evaluating, and interpreting information about programs or services.

Evaluation: Particular assessment efforts aimed at measuring a current program, service, or process against an established goal or objective. Evaluation efforts take three primary forms:

  • Frequency:  How many people use the program or service?
  • Satisfaction:  Did the users like the program or service? Were their hopes met?
  • Outcome:  What effect/correlation can be drawn between the program or service and the user's behavior or development? If the program aims to change attitudes, experiences, or behaviors, some evaluation questions should fall into the outcome.
Tips for Successful Assessment Planning
  1. Plan for assessment and evaluation.
    In addition to "what if" and "where do we want to go" conversations, be sure to have "how will we know if we are successful?" discussions. 
  2. Bridge the assessment-adjustment divide in regular one-on-one and team conversations.
    Meetings should regularly include conversations about meeting strategic goals and objectives and discussions of how to adjust and adapt if you aren't as successful as you want to be. Provide resources and support to enable adjustments to be made based on evaluation outcomes.  
  3. Know the data and make the feedback cycle visible.
    Nothing negates an assessment effort faster than people feeling like they spent a lot of time and effort collecting information only to have a report sit on a desk or shelf and collect dust. Do not undertake assessment and evaluation efforts if there is not a commitment to act on the data collected. Ensure that key stakeholders and people who participated in the evaluation process are provided feedback and the impact of the data collected. If people feel their contribution has had a valuable impact they are likely to enthusiastically support additional assessment efforts.
  4. Relationships in assessment may not mean cause and effect.
    Many times when relationships are seen between two things being assessed, it is tempting to infer that one thing caused the other. For example, in the Career Development Center a relationship between the number of times a student visits the CDC and the number of students who are successful in achieving their post-graduation plans, may be identified. While one would like to claim that this is evidence of the effectiveness of advising, it might also be true that more conscientious students are more likely to visit the CDC and achieve post-graduation plans. The lesson is to be cautious in interpreting relationships between assessed variables as evidence of cause and effect.
  5. Assessment never ends.
    This doesn't mean never take a break or stop to celebrate successes at the end of a big project, but if the value of assessment is in helping to see programs and services in a new light, and make better decisions, the results of one project should always contain the seeds of questions for the next project.
Using the Assessment Project Sheet

Use the UR Assessment Project Sheet to create your assessment reports and to stimulate conversation about your assessment and evaluation efforts. More than a standardized form for recording progress, this document provides a framework for conversation. If you can talk through the template and answer all its questions or complete all of its sections you will be well on your way to a successful and substantive assessment program.

The sheet is appropriate for use in all departments. The audience for this document is the Director and/or Assistant/Associate Director in your department. It may form the basis of the contents for your assessment component in your annual report.

Assessment Made Easy
The Office of Student Development contracts with Campus Labs (formerly known as StudentVoice) to provide handheld devices, Web-based survey administration, and a full complement of assessment support services. This service is available at no charge to all University offices. To ensure coordination and avoid "survey fatigue" among students, it is requested that all survey users submit a project sheet to the Center for Student Involvement assessment coordinator prior to submitting a project request to Campus Labs for development.

How to submit a survey to Campus Labs:

  1. To discuss the project being created, survey features and guidance on formatting issues that will help Campus Labs best accomplish project objectives, contact the Office of Student Activities or e-mail at abartel@richmond.edu or our Campus Labs representative, Daniel Kaczmarek. You may also contact a Campus Labs representative by e-mailing info@studentvoice.com
  2. A login and password are required before requesting a project and can be requested through Student Activities. 
  3. Create the survey in Microsoft Word.
  4. Submit a project sheet and copy of the survey to Alison Keller in the Center for Student Involvement.
  5. Once a login and username have been acquired, go to studentvoice.com and login.
  6. Click on the "Request Project" tab and follow the steps.
  7. As soon as requested your project will show up in the "requested" area of the "My Projects" tab. Use the "My Projects" tab to track progress during development, preview the survey when available, and view results after administration.

Sample StudentVoice Survey
Browse Campus Labs features and view assessments from many different resources. Once logged in, click on "Community", followed by "Resources".

Assessment Resources

On-campus resources

Off-campus resources

Archived assessment reports

  June 2008 to January 2010