The main purpose of assessment, as outlined in Collected Rules and Regulations 20.035, is to improve the teaching and learning, research and creative activity, and service of individual units. In addition, MU’s program assessment serves an important function in the University’s accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association. In fact, MU is one of a select group of institutions pioneering a new model for continued accreditation. As part of the Pathways Demonstration Project, MU has increased attention to improving student learning within program assessment.
Assessment reports (approximately 15-20 pages) consist of two primary parts. In part one, the program’s faculty will assess the unit’s research and creative activity, teaching and learning, service, and economic development since the last assessment. (Program assessment is typically done every five years, with some variation depending on discipline-specific accreditation schedules.) This assessment should be based on criteria and methods appropriate to the specific discipline as well as data provided by Institutional Research. Because of requirements related to MU’s accreditation with the HLC, all units that offer degree programs must include learning objectives for each degree program in the teaching and learning component of this report.
Based on the findings in part one, part two describes the unit’s plans for the next three to five years. This section should identify the specific issues, problems, or concerns that this plan seeks to address as well as identify specific goals and proposed strategies. Due to our accreditation with the HLC, at least one of these goals must focus on improving student learning.
The final assessment report will be read by the provost, the associate provost, the dean of the appropriate school or college, the dean of the Graduate School (if involving any graduate degree programs), and the vice provost for undergraduate studies (if involving any undergraduate degree programs). These individuals will then meet with the chair or director of the academic unit for the program review. To conclude the process, a short executive summary is provided to the University of Missouri System, with copies given to the academic unit.
Because the plans for the next three to five years constitute an essential part of MU’s program assessment, units will provide very brief annual updates on their progress and any changes to the goals and strategies taken.