Frequently Asked Questions

Which academic programs are required to have an assessment plan and submit annual reports?

All undergraduate and graduate academic programs that appear on the ADHE List of Approved Programs are required to assess student learning goals. In addition, stand-alone minors (e.g., Minor in Gender Studies) are required to assess student learning goals.

Does UA Little Rock have an assessment handbook?

UA Little Rock does not have an assessment handbook per se, but its Forms and Guides for Assessment Plans and Annual Reports were carefully designed to lead faculty through the assessment process in a step-by-step manner that emphasizes continuous improvement. Additionally, each academic department has a copy of Linda Suskie’s Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide (Wiley 2015), which is an easy-to-follow, up-to-date reference for assessment planning and reporting. The Assessment Central website also provides links to helpful online resources, as well as a UA Little Rock Glossary of Assessment Terms. The Comprehensive Assessment Plan (still in draft form, as it is evolving!) describes the various assessment processes on campus and how different assessment groups work together.

Is there a list of best practices in assessment?

Assessment will look different across the disciplines and according to program resources. That said, below is a list of “good” practices that nearly all programs can adopt. UA Little Rock’s Forms and Guide for Assessment Plans and Annual Reports were carefully developed around these practices and are a reference for explaining critical concepts.

  • Student learning goals should be clear and measurable and align with the university mission and Skills in the Major (3-5 goals is sufficient).
  • See the Assessment Plan and Annual Report Forms and Guides for help writing student learning goals. (Found in Left Menu)
  • Direct evidence of student learning is valued over indirect evidence of learning, although an assessment plan might include both.
  • See the Assessment Plan and Annual Report Forms and Guides for definitions and a list of direct and indirect assessment methods. (Found in Left Menu)
  • Assessment artifacts/learning activities can be embedded across the curriculum.
  • Summative assessment is required. Formative assessment is encouraged once a program has established its assessment practices.
  • Simple, sustainable, affordable plans that cycle every 3-5 years (assessing 1-2 student learning goals each year) are acceptable.
  • Assessment plans should respect faculty workload, and assessment service should be recognized as service in annual professional activity reports.
  • Assessment should be faculty-driven. Substantial faculty involvement is expected; assessment should never be left to one individual faculty member.
  • Emphasis should be placed on using assessment data to inform how to continually improve student learning.
  • Assessment results and improvement measures should be communicated with others.

Does UA Little Rock have any policies mandating assessment?

UA Little Rock Faculty Policy 404.3 addresses assessment:

“All faculty are expected to be involved in their programs’ assessment of student academic achievement, which involves collecting information that will be
used to make decisions to improve the programs’ curriculum, instruction, and advising.

“Assessment at UALR is designed to help the academic programs—whether undergraduate, graduate, or core—focus on what should be taught and whether it is being
taught successfully.

“Programs are encouraged to use a variety of assessment methods, including both locally developed and standardized assessment instruments, and both
quantitative and qualitative methods. Faculty participates in assessment in all its phases: design, data collection, interpretation of the results, and
implementation of any changes.

“Assessment activities and results for both program and core assessment are reported annually. The associate vice chancellor for academic affairs directs
the assessment program.”

Can assessment data be used against a faculty member in promotion and tenure or annual performance review?

No. Faculty Senate Legislation 2017_4 addresses this issue by stating that assessment data should be used only to inform decisions about how to improve student learning; however, faculty service in assessment work should be recognized in promotion and tenure and annual performance reviews.

Should assessment data be used in judgment against the quality of an instructor or program?

No. Assessment should be framed with a growth mindset that measures student learning in order to inform decisions about improving student success. In a continuous improvement paradigm, focus is placed on how programs can use data to improve, not as a referendum or judgment on program or instructor quality.

Assessment is a requirement. Does it have any benefits?

Beyond accreditation and program review, assessment carries other benefits:

  • Community building: assessment work is an occasion for faculty and staff to come together to discuss pedagogy and best practices, and documentation ensures transparency
  • Strategic alignment of institutional resources with continuous improvement initiatives
  • Reaffirmation of program/institutional relevance to its stakeholders and community
  • Focus and aspiration at the program and institutional levels
  • Data-informed decisions to continuously make our programs and institution better

What is the relationship between assessment and program review?

The ADHE requires that all programs not accredited by a disciplinary agency undergo a comprehensive program review every 7-10 years. Documentation of a program’s ongoing assessment culture is a central component of program review.

What is the relationship between assessment and accreditation?

As with program review, programs undergoing disciplinary accreditation are required to document ongoing assessment efforts. UA Little Rock’s regional accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), also expects documentation of a culture of continuous improvement that uses assessment data to inform decisions about curricula, student support, resource allocation and more. The HLC also stipulates the public posting of assessment data.

Are there guidelines on whether or not my rubric should be on a 0-4 scale versus a 1-4 scale?

In order to ensure consistency across the university, programs are asked to implement a 0-4 scale on their rubrics, where 0 indicates that evidence of the student learning goal is absent or cannot be scored. This absence of evidence might be due to an assignment mismatch or the student’s not answering or answering a different question. A tally of 0 scores can be indicative of needing to modify the instructions or structure of the learning activity. The rubric score of 1 would then indicate the lowest level of mastery of the goal, with 4 indicating the highest level of mastery.