Academic Assessment at NAU
At NAU, the central purpose of academic assessment is to continually strengthen and celebrate the high-quality student learning experience we provide. We do this by engaging in an ongoing process examining what our students know and are able to do.
Assessment provides answers to questions such as: “What do our graduates know, and what can they do with that knowledge?” and “What programmatic changes can we make to continually improve their knowledge and skills?”
There is no single “right” way to design and implement assessment. Across the country, universities have each adopted an approach they feel is best suited to the priorities and circumstances of their institution. Similarly, NAU’s practices aim to ensure that assessment is (1) faculty-driven; (2) meaningful and useful; (3) focused on student learning; and (4) continual (rather than episodic).
For faculty, our assessment process
- assists in determining what is and is not working in the course or program;
- engages them in conversations about curriculum and learning design with colleagues in their department, and at times, across the university;
- provides powerful evidence to maintain and improve programs;
- ensures they can tell their story to individuals outside their field of expertise; and
- validates their program’s effectiveness.
In addition, engagement in assessment allows us to maintain our accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission, NAU’s institutional accrediting body. By collecting assessment reports from academic programs, we are able to document the meaningful and useful nature of our assessment efforts, identify areas to improve assessment, and provide support to academic programs in need of that support. Although this information is primarily used internally to provide support and service, it also provides a measure of our assessment efforts to the Higher Learning Commission.
See the DPE how-to guide for resources that will assist you in completing the Degree Program Expectations, including the six steps of the assessment process.