The Division of Student Development at William Paterson University has always sought to determine the effectiveness of its programs as well as student satisfaction. Sparked in 2006 by an assessment symposium sponsored by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA), and following our fifth annual Student Development Retreat in January 2007, we began to focus on appropriate means of assessing the actual learning outcomes of students who engage in the division’s programs and activities.
Under the leadership of Glen L. Sherman, Ph.D., Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Development, our divisional assessment program has continued to evolve and grow. A vital part of this effort was the development of a divisional Assessment Team, comprised of interested and dedicated staff members from across various departments within our division. This team has met on a bi-weekly basis for the past seven years, serving as a source of leadership and consultation in assessment for the division’s members. Jane Zeff, from Institutional research, is a member of the Team and has regularly attended these meetings as well. As the membership of the Assessment Team has evolved, its understanding of and appreciation for assessment, as well as its ability to spread information and know-how about assessment across the division has as well. These assessment efforts resulted in explicit positive recognition and commendation by Middle States in our recent accreditation review.
Each year since that time the division’s assessment efforts have evolved to reflect the changing priorities of the institution and the needs of our students. Over the years, our departmental self-assessment efforts have expanded to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), utilization of standards from the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), the effort to develop departmental strategic plans in accord with the university’s strategic plan, and currently, the effort to develop an on-line extra and co-curricular record for students to assist them with “telling their story” to employers and graduate schools upon graduation. While most institutions of our size and complexity have hired full-time assessment coordinators to manage this level of effort, we have managed to do so without any additional or dedicated staff members. These developing efforts take time and resources to accomplish. For instance, in order to provide the on-line resources required to accomplish these assessment efforts in an organized and meaningful manner, we contract annually with Campus Labs, an organization which is at the forefront of on-line tools for assessment work on university campuses. We typically also conduct annual retreats where we bring our entire professional staff together to engage in learning activities and this frequently involves topics related to assessment. Most recently, we have also hired Marc Schaeffer to work several hours per week to assist us in these efforts. The budget request related to assessment will cover all of these expenses.