Assessment Brief #100 - Survey of Departmental Assessment Coordinators

Assessment Logo: assessment-revision-outcomes

April 2018

Survey of Departmental Assessment Coordinators

In the past two years, Miami's approach to assessment has shifted away from an emphasis on standardization toward a greater focus on customization.

Toward that end, the University Assessment Council has developed several new practices and resources, designed to help departments and programs to design assessment plans that are aligned with their disciplinary conventions, competencies, and approaches for evaluating scholarly or creative work as well as with their particular resource constraints.

The Council has developed a robust Canvas site that offers information on a range of assessment methods (rather than prescribing the use of particular rubrics or mandating the use of an online assessment platform). Instead of having one deadline date each year, departments can select one of two dates (June 30 or December 30) to enable them to create a timeline of activity that meets their needs.

The Council offers brief feedback on assessment activity annually so that departments can better understand their strengths and areas for improvement. In this feedback, the Council often encourages departments to simplify or streamline the assessment process by focusing on a few meaningful outcomes that can be assessed efficiently to better ensure ongoing activity and higher quality results. Instead of offering workshops on general topics, Council members have focused on meeting in one-on-one sessions with assessment leaders in departments, providing consultants to help them improve assessment activity in ways that are relevant to their discipline or field.

To ensure that this new approach is working effectively, the University Assessment Council administered a survey in January 2018. The survey was sent to assessment liaisons for all academic degree programs/majors.

Fifty-six persons (out of a possible 125 persons) responded to five survey questions. This represents a response rate of 44.8%.

Question #1: On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest level), how would you rate the quality of your department's assessment activity?


  • Excellent: 7 responses, 12.5%
  • Above Average: 31 responses, 55.4%
  • Average: 17 responses, 30.1%
  • Below Average: 0 responses
  • Poor: 0 responses

Question #2: What do you see as the top one or two strengths of your department's assessment activity?

Top Responses:

  • Faculty involvement (in the form of either a leader or "champion" or a committee) (14 responses)
  • Clear and meaningful learning outcomes (7 responses)
  • Simple, streamlined process (6 responses)
  • Assessment activity embedded in departmental culture (5 responses)
  • Multiple measures of assessment (5 responses)

Question #3: What do you see as the major weakness or area of improvement for your department's assessment activity?

Top Responses:

  • Lack of faculty involvement and/or faculty resistance to assessment (15 responses)
  • Administrative burden and investment of time needed for assessment (9 responses)
  • Timing of reports (requiring work to be done over summer) (3 responses)
  • Complexity of assessment plan (3 responses)
  • Small samples size, due to low numbers of students in program (3 responses)

Question #4: On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest level), how would you rate the quality of the support for assessment activity at Miami University?


  • Excellent: 19 responses, 33.9%
  • Above Average: 22 responses, 39.3%
  • Average: 11 responses, 19.6%
  • Below Average: 2 responses, 3.6%
  • Poor: 0 responses

Question #5: What resources or forms of support would most assist you in improving the quality of your department's assessment activity?

To Responses:

  • Model assessment reports (11 responses)
  • One-on-one consultation (10 responses)
  • Compensation and recognition for assessment coordinators (e.g., ensuring the work is rewarded in merit increment decisions, GA support, summer stipend, course release) (9 responses)
  • Workshops (3 responses)

Discussion of Findings

The responses to the questions (response rate, scores and quality of thought in the narrative responses) indicate that departments generally take assessment of student learning seriously. Sixty-eight percent of respondents believe that they are engaging in assessment activity that is either excellent or above average. The two respondents who indicated that the support was below average cited the need to compensate assessment coordinators for their work.

Many of the respondents' comments suggest that the assessment coordinators appreciate the customized approach to assessment that the University Assessment Council has spearheaded in recent years. A few comments suggest that some assessment coordinators may not be aware of the resources and opportunities related to assessment at Miami, and still others suggest that despite the emphasis on customization and streamlining, several departments find the assessment process time-consuming and challenging and note a need for greater compensation for and recognition of assessment work

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Develop a communication plan to ensure that assessment coordinators are aware of the assessment-related resources available to them.
  • Develop an excellence in assessment award to honor outstanding assessment activity.
  • Make available model assessment reports (or excerpts from model reports) across a range of disciplines.