Assessment & Accountability

Don't just check a box. Make it meaningful.


Institutional effectiveness should be about more than changing just because external accrediting bodies tell us to. When processes are designed to actually provide useful data back to the individuals on campus that can impact change, everybody wins. Assessment and accountability aren’t possible unless we get buy-in from relevant campus stakeholders. This includes faculty, staff, administrators, and students.

From the faculty perspective, assessment needs to be meaningful. If data is seemingly being produced to live in a blackhole from which no usable results emerge, it’s hard to get excited. Assessment doesn’t have to focus on institution-wide themes even. It can be relevant to an individual faculty member’s personal pedagogy. Or curricular design. Or even student success.

It is essential that we work to limit faculty concerns with assessment. It should never be used as an element of faculty evaluation. It should be made as streamlined as possible to minimize duplicative efforts and unnecessary bureaucracy. And it should be genuine. The faculty member should be able to easily translate what they do in their classroom to what they report to an assessment office.

All of this isn't to say that accreditation doesn't matter. We know it does. As demanding as it might be to fulfill the requests and standards set forth by regional accrediting bodies, their stamps of approval equate with financial aid, which assures we enroll students and even have jobs. But the key is making it so our efforts every day are geared at assuring we advance our campus in an intentional, mission-driven way. If we take care of the day-to-day in a meaningful, proactive way, accreditation reports should be opportunities to brag. Accreditation, after all, should be more about progress than compliance.

Meaningful assessment and accountability means intentionality. A well-grounded, informative assessment process will not just emerge on campus. It takes trust. It takes tools that minimize the process. It takes providing useful information back. No one likes doing something simply because they're told they have to; it runs counter to our very human nature. But, if you build a culture that shows why assessment matters, you'll find a campus community more willing to meaningfully engage with your office and your efforts.