University Assessment System 

Chicago State University continues to dedicate considerable resources to excellence in academic assessment. All academic programs follow a regular process of faculty-driven assessment, using results of multiple assessment instruments (direct and indirect) to inform program improvements and to enhance student learning. Non-academic programs also prepare unit assessment plans that incorporate processes of continuous change and quality improvement. Our data shows that our students learn, and we publicize these results of student learning to internal and external stakeholders. We are proud of many changes made as a result of assessment that have further enhanced our learning processes since the last comprehensive visit. 

As the university entered the new decade following the 2002 HLC visit, CSU has continued to place considerable emphasis on advancing and documenting its academic quality and assessment efforts. Pursuit of excellence in assessment included the validation of all academic programs either by means of accreditation reviews or other required program reviews performed to meet Illinois Board of Higher Education cyclical review requirements, those of external accreditation agencies, and those of the program missions themselves. To facilitate assessment through curricular means, a university assessment coordinator monitors and oversees the coordination of all assessment processes at the institution. 

The crux of assessment of student learning occurs regularly through general education and program-level assessment. Cyclical analysis of assessment data results occurs via Form 201C which summarizes the assessment data, analysis pattern, and program changes made as a result of assessment. 

A university assessment committee (UAC), chaired by the university assessment coordinator, was established in 2001. The principal activity of the UAC consists of training and supporting program assessment coordinators (PACs) as well as ensuring appropriate documentation of assessment activities through the collaborative creation of templates and collection of assessment reports.

Since the last visit, the UAC has revised its reporting forms to include increased emphasis on documenting student learning and publicizing the results of learning processes (Form 201BC). It instituted Form 201C for summary presentation and racking of assessment data results, analysis, and consequent changes in three-year cycles. It revised the annual assessment reporting forms to document the Commission’s focus on student learning, including publicizing the success of efforts in student learning. The committee devised rubrics for the scoring of assessment reports in LiveText®; assessment reports are evaluated using this matrix. It directed the preparation of a “Key Changes” document for highlighting the changes made to programs as a result of assessment since 2003. It also implemented a job description sign-off form for assessment coordinators to enhance accountability of assessment personnel. 

To publicize student learning to university stakeholders. LiveText® was adopted in 2008 as the university-wide electronic repository for assessment data. While some courses, programs and colleges were using LiveText® as early as the last accreditation visit, primarily to store assessable items such as electronic student portfolios, the university-wide adoption in 2009 has resulted in greater efficiency and effectiveness for institution-wide collection and storage of assessment data. More importantly, centralization of the data in an electronic format facilitates greater accessibility to documentation of university, college, and program success in accomplishing student learning.

Currently, LiveText® houses annual program assessment reports, accreditation reports, and semester general education reports. At one level, these reports contain detailed discussions of the extent to which student learning outcomes in major degree and graduate programs as well as general education courses have been achieved. They present this information in terms of correlates with the university mission and goals and achievement acceptability of a given program, departmental, college/division. These reports also contain graduation and retetion data and the results of alumni and employer surveys.

At the program level, LiveText® houses evidence for program and class-level assessments (for general education, undergraduate and graduate program assessments), annual assessment reports, annually submitted trend-data forms (that track evidence of learning and modifications/changes made as a result of assessment), reviews of reports by the University Assessment Committee, by University General Education and Assessment Coordinators, and by College Deans. Additional forms of documentation and analysis includes program/unit self-assessments, Illinois Board of Higher Education program/unit reports, Illinois State Board of Education Recognition Reports and College accreditation reports such as the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) for the College of Education. Other mechanisms for reporting to stakeholders include IBHE program reports and reports to program-level accrediting bodies. 

Program Level Assessment 

Program-level assessment at CSU is faculty-owned and driven. Each program has an assigned and compensated faculty assessment coordinator, who works with the program director/academic chairperson and program faculty on all matters related to assessment. Program-level assessment plans incorporate at least two direct and one indirect assessments of learning. 

Reports are submitted on a regular basis, and analysis of data and changes made through assessment occur in three-year cycles. Program faculties regularly discuss assessment results in department meetings and in meetings of related committees. Assessment coordinators meet collectively each semester to discuss issues of common concern and to address assessment initiatives at the institutional level. A university assessment committee is composed of key assessment stakeholders, including faculty from the colleges. 

CSU faculties determine assessment learning outcomes, instruments, and processes at the unit level. They consider assessment data and modify academic programs based upon trends and needed improvements. The university faculty and administration is committed to obtaining, reviewing, and acting on assessment findings to enhance student learning at the course, program, and institutional levels. In these ways, assessment at CSU is the product of faculty governance and faculty ownership of the process. 

Through course-embedded assessment, faculty drive the assessment process at CSU. In this regard, an essential building block of the university’s assessment plan is the university Syllabus Template. The course syllabus is one of the primary means through which academic learning outcomes are expressed. Originally adopted more than a decade ago by the Faculty Senate, the template was updated in February 2011 to reflect current student learning needs. Faculty prepare syllabi that include multiple learning outcomes, required course information, and university and college specific policies,

Department level curriculum committees are the initial stewards of the syllabus format. They ensure compliance with the template by reviewing all syllabi not only to assure that they adhere to the form of presentation, but much more importantly, that they contain specified learning outcomes. The department curriculum committee reviews learning outcomes in terms of the level of the course (whether undergraduate, master’s level, or doctoral), the learning requirements in relation foundational theories such as Bloom’s Taxonomy, and the appropriateness of the evaluation methods for the outcomes sought. Syllabi that fail to satisfy the committee’s expectations in these areas are returned to the recommending faculty member along with feedback for improvement and resubmission. Once the syllabus for a new or modified course leaves the department level, it moves to the college curriculum committee who review it with an eye for college-wide implications. If the new course or change has university-wide implications, the syllabus moves to the university curriculum committee, then the graduate council, if applicable, and ultimately to the provost for final approval.

Direct assessment measures that prompt students to represent or demonstrate their learning or product include but are not limited to student portfolios; capstone projects, including senior and graduate theses; performances and creations; comprehensive examinations; standardized tests administered through a program or by an external body; case studies; and graduate program candidacy processes.

Indirect assessment measures that capture students perceptions, attitudes, and experiences include but are not limited to student surveys; exit interviews; alumni surveys; and self-assessments/reflective reports.

Among the key processes that ensure student learning occurs and that assessment is conducted in an organized, sequential fashion are:

  • Identification of entry and exit points such as Freshman Orientation Participation and successful completion of Senior Thesis/Project, and Master’s Thesis or Dissertation.
  • Undergraduate and Graduate Program Assessments, Trend Data Forms, and Key Changes reports in Live Text
  • Assessment Plans and Benchmarks for all non-degree Certificate Programs
  • Course Leve l General Education Assessment
  • Accredited Colleges (College of Education, College of Pharmacy. Business, and Health Sciences) and Programs at CSU 

CSU publicizes the impact of its programs on student learning through a variety of mechanisms, both for internal and external stakeholders. Academic programs utilize student publications (catalogs, brochures, and letters to majors) that state assessment expectations and their relationship to student outcomes as well as provide information on student learning and highlights of success.

 As previously noted, LiveText ®directly informs the publication of student learning associated with all education programs at the institution. Through its function as a live database of assessment/accreditation information, it also performs an analogous function for all academic programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels at the institution, as well as for general education courses and non-academic programs.

Deans and senior level administrators are able to make requests for budgetary resources, either re-allocations or new allocations, based upon assessment findings.