Assessment is a Dirty Word.
Chances are, if someone in your office mentions the word “assessment” in a staff meeting, at least one person will roll his or her eyes, and someone else will suddenly need to be somewhere VERY IMPORTANT. Am I correct?
About 6 years ago, I was appointed to Bridgewater State University’s Divisional Assessment Committee. I was charged by the committee to bring learning outcomes, assessment, strategic priorities, and all that fun stuff to the Career Services staff and we had to assure our division that we not only understood assessment but were doing it and doing it well. I saw the above-listed reactions, and more, in staff meetings.
I understood the staff’s responses; I also found assessment confusing and annoying. Because of my personality (INFJ’s unite!), I decided to create a system of assessment that not only made sense for a career services office, but also measured what was important to us.
I started by engaging the whole staff in the development process. We worked for two years as a team: creating a mission based on university strategic priorities and divisional student learning outcomes, rebuilding our workshops, creating valid assessment instruments and finally, establishing a review system. As a result of this team effort, their attitude toward assessment shifted dramatically. One of my co-workers recently told me: “I still don’t love assessment, but I understand why it is important and no longer dread the process.”
Over the next few months, I am going to walk through the steps our staff took to build a solid assessment process that works for our office. It is my hope that all levels of professionals will enjoy – and learn – from this series. Directors can use this process to plan their next mission and vision, mid-managers will develop skills for future roles leading an assessment process and new professionals will, hopefully, learn how to create assessment instruments that measure student learning.
I look forward to your comments and feedback as we explore assessment together!
Carol Crosby is Assistant Director in Career Services at Bridgewater State University (BSU) in Bridgewater, MA. Her work in higher education has spanned 20 years and she has worked in career services offices for 12 years. She has a M.S. in College Student Personnel from the University of Rhode Island and has attended the HERS Institute at Wellesley College, NACE’s Management Leadership Institute, and the Fulbright International Education Administrators Program in Germany. She has been a member of BSU’s Student Affairs Assessment Committee and has participated on the program review team for accreditation for her office. She presented her office’s approach to assessment as it relates to students’ skill development at NACE’s 2015 Annual Conference in Anaheim, California.