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Assessment and Accreditation

The Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning supports programmatic accreditation as well as helps assess and document University of Delaware’s assessment for our regional accreditator, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, 2nd Floor West, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (267) 284–5000

What programs on campus are subject to accreditation?

Many individual academic programs, in almost every college on campus, already undergo accreditation procedures. You can find a list of these programs and their accrediting organization on our Agency page. Additionally, the University of Delaware undergoes accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

What role does assessment play in accreditation?

Assessment will be the major focus of our next Middle States accreditation visit. For most if not all accreditation agencies, assessment has become a targeted focus. ABET, NCATE, AACSB and NCLEC visiting teams, to name a few, predominately spend their time delving into how units measured outcomes (hopefully in at least two ways), and the changes made as a result of findings. Of course, this means that all units that are part of an accreditation visit must, first, identify their outcomes

What must individual programs do for assessment?

The essentials are pretty simple. A program must view itself as an integrated, coherent educational experience designed to produce specific learning outcomes in the students who experience it. The faculty must agree upon and define these outcomes and agree upon and define the performance indicators that will enable them to know if the outcomes have been achieved by the students in the program.
Then, once a functional consensus is reached by faculty about what they want students to learn and how they will recognize success in students, they must design and implement an assessment process for the program.
This process entails devising the means of measuring or detecting the performance indicators identified as evidence of learning. (These “means” are often called assessment instruments or measures.) Then the program faculty members conduct the assessment measures or instruments and analyze or otherwise consider the results of the assessments.
Lastly, the faculty members employ the results of the assessments to drive reflection upon and, perhaps, refinement of the design of the original educational experience. (This is the “closing the loop” part.) Other components of this process include assessing the effectiveness of the program itself and integrating into the assessment mix the input of key external constituencies. These “external constituencies,” by the way, can be both industry councils to service areas within the institution itself (e.g., English, math, chemistry, etc.)

What do the academic support units do for assessment?

As mentioned above, academic support units, such as student services, must also have assessment plans. They way they go about assessing effectiveness is slightly different than the way academic units do it. Support units also articulate outcomes, but not all are of the “skills, knowledge, attitude” nature seen in academic setting. For instance, support units might also set outcomes goals for number of students served, the speed with which certain services are rendered, or the percentage of freshman who participated in mentoring or advising initiatives.

What is required of me as a faculty member?

Learning about assessment, participating in the development and implementation of your program’s assessment plan and participating in general education assessment, and helping keep everyone’s mind focused on the point of assessment, which is the improvement of student learning. All these are part of a faculty member’s professional responsibilities.

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