Assessment Committee Workshop                                               Fall Convocation 2004

Preliminary Working Definitions*

Assessment: An ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning.

It involves making our expectations explicit and public; setting appropriate criteria and high standards for learning quality; systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; and using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance.  Assessment in this context does NOT mean institutional judgment and evaluation of individual performance or either faculty or students. When it is embedded effectively within larger institutional systems, assessment can help us focus our collective attention, examine our assumptions, and create a shared academic culture dedicated to assuring and improving the quality of higher education.

Student Learning Assessment: The measurement of what a student knows and is able to do, usually expressed in terms of progress toward a standard or mastery of a standard.


There are several layers or levels of assessment.  The Assessment Committee will be working at all levels; faculty who are not also lead instructors or program coordinators will primarily be concerned about Classroom Assessment.  (The following explanations have been adapted from a Cochise College document).

Classroom Assessment.  This can apply to a single class meeting or assignment within the course, or to any set of classes or assignments.  The goal is to understand and improve teaching and learning of a single lesson or unit.

Course Assessment (AKA Classroom Research).  This applies to an individual course (for example, my section of ENGL 218), or to multiple sections of the same course (all ENGL 218 sections).  The goal is to understand and improve teaching and learning in that particular course.


At SJC, Deans & Department Chairs will want faculty to be doing classroom and course assessment, but will also initiate program reviews.

Program Review and Assessment.  This can apply to any number of school, department, or program issues.  The goal of this type of assessment is to improve the program quality and success, and possibly will have an impact on gaining and/or maintaining accreditation (for the program and/or for the college).


SJC Administrators, while interested in the above types of assessment, will be most concerned with the following levels:

Institutional Assessment.  At this level, assessment of the institution as a whole—San Juan College—is done for the purpose of public and institutional accountability, and for gaining//maintaining accreditation.

Systemwide Assessment.  If we were part of a community college system, we would engage at this level to provide accountability. Instead, our “system” is probably higher education in New Mexico.


* The wording I’m using here comes from both the American Association of Higher Education and author Thomas Angelo.

Created by Andi Penner                                                       August 18, 2004