Student Achievement Assessment Committee
Letter From NCA Accepting the 1996 Assessment Plan
STAFF ANALYSIS OF INSTITUTIONAL REPORT
DATE: July 22, 1996
STAFF: Stephen D. Spangehl, Associate Director
INSTITUTION: Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH
PREVIOUS COMMISSION ACTION RE: REPORT: The University is to file a report on or before February 1, 1996, focused on: 1) progress on establishing and implementing a university-wide planning process; and 2) progress on developing and implementing a student assessment plan.
ITEMS ADDRESSED IN REPORT: The report included a description of planning-related activities undertaken prior to January 24, 1996, and a short progress report (with lengthy appendices) on institutional assessment activities.
STAFF ANALYSIS: The institution is at work on developing a statement of core values and priorities, and the President has established both an Environmental Scanning Task force (to do an external analysis of threats and opportunities) and a Building Community Task Force (to scan the internal environment). These pieces form the foundation of a strategic planning process that will result in a revision of the University's Role and Mission Statement and the development of specific 3-5 year goals. Another intended outcome of the process is "a more focused linkage" between planning and budgeting.
The assessment report narrates the activities that have already taken place at BGSU as it confronts assessment. These included an inventory of existing assessment activities, a review of the institution's general education program and a clearer articulation of its general education goals for students, the establishment of assessment committees in each college, and the planning of assessment in each program or department. Various constituency groups have endorsed the institution's "Commitment to Assessment" statement.
Although ambitious and institution-wide, the assessment plan seems to be moving this large institution in the right direction. The statement of general education goals has a clarity and coherence rarely found in comprehensive universities; if the institution can assure itself, its students, and its publics that it can assist its students in achieving the goals it sets for them in this statement, it should achieve much-deserved attention from peer institutions. A variety of statements of learning goals for sample departments and programs were appended to the plan, and the goals identified appear to be serious, challenging, and appropriate to a higher educational institution. However, much additional work needs to be done in identifying means of achievement of these goals, and of using the information gathered to inform improvements in curriculum, teaching, and other activities at the departmental, college, and university levels.
Since the report focuses most on the identification of academic goals for general education and majors, it does not devote sufficient attention to the way in which the institution will make certain that its faculty, staff, and administration derive maximum insight from the wealth of data that already is and that will be collected. Although the energy the institution is investing in the planning process indicates it intends to analyze and use the data it collects, experience has shown that getting an institution to extract useful information from available data is one of the most challenging parts of assessment. More attention to this aspect of its assessment program would be extremely beneficial to BGSU as it implements its plan.
The timetable provided is an annual one, implying that the elements of the plan are already in place or will be implemented within the next year. The next team to visit the College will expect to find a fully implemented assessment program, one that can provide solid evidence of the educational achievement of students and one that regularly provides the institution with information that it uses to make improvements in academic programs, curriculum, teaching, and other aspects of its operation.
STAFF ACTION: Accept the report focused on 1) progress on establishing and implementing a university-wide planning process; and 2) progress on developing and implementing a student assessment plan. No further reports are required. The University's next comprehensive evaluation is scheduled for 2002-03.