Academic Policy  1630.10

Student Academic Achievement and Degree Program Outcomes

The University of Arkansas program for the assessment of student academic achievement in degree programs is based on principles first approved unanimously by the Campus Faculty in 1993 and approved by the Commission on Higher Education of the North Central Association in 1995. It is consistent with the U of A mission goal of "strengthening academic quality and reputation by enhancing and developing programs of excellence in teaching, learning, research, and outreach," and the institutional responsibility for evaluating academic quality and the ways and extent to which educational goals are being achieved in academic programs. This program has been governed by Academic Policy 1630.10 since 1998 from which time annual reports on assessment of student academic achievement have been required from colleges and schools.

During the fall semester of 2006, the provost and deans called for a review of assessment of student learning in college degree programs (by individual major) through the academic departments in which the programs are housed. The reviews focused on assuring that assessment was in place and on achievement of degree program outcomes. Generally, the reviews were made in the context of standards and goals for comparable programs in peer institutions and statements promulgated by respected professional associations in the discipline and included such topics as: 1. What are the student learning outcomes for each degree program and how are they appropriate to the U of A mission and the degree programs? 2. What evidence is available that students achieve the stated learning outcomes? (What indirect and direct measures of student learning are utilized?) 3. In what ways is evidence of student learning analyzed and used? 4. How is effectiveness of assessment evaluated and improved? 

Following on from the 2006-2007 review, the U of A campus assessment policy as annotated (attached) will continue to be implemented, but, beginning in 2008-2009, with a new reporting format and schedule developed to provide for variety among disciplines and less frequent periodic central reporting on assessment results to complement program review and accreditation results. Programs of study such as free-standing minors and certificates (those in areas of study in which there is no major/degree program) should be included in the assessment and the report. The first formal assessment of the (whole) general education core curriculum will also be included.

Campus Policy item 6 requires another assessment of students three to five years after the students graduate. During 2008-2009, institutional support and management for a broad initiative to survey graduates on a periodic basis will be sought.

Note that Campus Policy items 7, 8, and 9, provide for 1) unit; 2) school and college committees charged with evaluating results and effectiveness of the assessment programs and reporting findings, conclusions, and recommendations; and 3) deans’ approvals of unit plans for assessment. Individual schools and colleges have the responsibility for implementing processes appropriate to their circumstances for compliance with these requirements.

The review and approval of unit programs of assessment by the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs is addressed in the section on Documenting Student Achievement. The reporting format and schedule are attached. The assessment reports in the new format, Documenting Student Achievement, will continue to be considered, along with other indicators of program quality, including the findings from the program review process, as budget and other resource needs are considered and as organizational options for change of other kinds are evaluated.

Reformatted for Web October 14, 2014