Although its work is often behind the scenes, the CalSouthern Institutional Research and Assessment Department’s mission is absolutely critical. Simply put, its responsibility is to guide institutional assessment at all levels to improve the programs and services the university offers its learners. Although assessment has been a priority of CalSouthern since the university’s inception, over the past two years the assessment processes have been greatly enhanced and become more data-driven. Perhaps you have already uploaded “signature assignments” into LiveText, the system that facilitates the collection and analysis of data related to student achievement. If you haven’t yet, chances are, you will soon.
But let’s back up a moment and explore the concept of assessment. Perhaps the best and most comprehensive definition comes from Linda Suskie, one of the foremost experts on the topic. She describes assessment as “the ongoing process of establishing clear, measurable expected outcomes of student learning; ensuring that students have sufficient opportunities to achieve those outcomes; systematically gathering, analyzing and interpreting evidence to determine how well student learning matches our expectations; and using the resulting information to understand and improve student learning.”
Here’s how and why assessment matters to you, in more concrete terms.
Success At CalSouthern, we have developed institutional and program learning outcomes that will provide you the skills needed to succeed in your chosen field. These outcomes are carefully and continually reviewed with input from faculty, practitioners, learners and alumni to ensure they are current, relevant and directly tied to success in the particular field. Signature assignments are created to specifically measure achievement of these learning outcomes. Embedding these assignments throughout your program allows us to assess achievement of the outcomes as you progress in your program of study. Because we know that achievement of these learning outcomes will ultimately lead to your success, it is critical for us to assess your progress along the way.
Quality While grading evaluates an individual student’s performance, assessment allows us to examine student learning across courses and programs. When we see patterns of learners not achieving outcomes at the desired levels, we can analyze the data to find out why, and if needed, make adjustments to the curriculum to improve learning.
The flexibility of our online programs allows us to continually revise and enhance the curriculum. And because the learning outcomes are designed by practitioners and experts, you can be assured that the curriculum will prepare you to succeed in your chosen field.
Engagement Assessment helps you remain actively engaged in your progress. You can review your assessment results to track how well you are achieving the learning outcomes and identify where you need to apply yourself to gain the necessary skills to succeed when you graduate.
Focus Grading is a measurement of your performance in a specific course and includes many criteria. Assessment clearly indicates how well you are achieving a specific institutional or program learning outcome predetermined to ensure your success. It can help you focus your time and energy where you need it the most.
For instance, your course may include a signature assignment designed to measure how well you can communicate in writing. CalSouthern values this competency and expects all graduates to be able to write effectively. By assessing this specific outcome, we are able to measure achievement and then, if needed, provide you with additional resources to ensure that you develop this competency. Because assessment measures how well students are achieving the learning outcomes, mentors can focus on the knowledge and skills you need the most.
Collaboration Assessment allows learners and mentors to shift the focus to progress, once any weaknesses are identified. CalSouthern offers support such as writing workshops, APA webinars and library resources specifically designed to help you achieve specific learning outcomes. Staff and faculty are eager to collaborate with you to help you in the areas you need it the most. It’s our personal touch philosophy in action!