Assessment and Improvement

The mission of Central Washington University is to prepare students for enlightened, responsible, and productive lives; to produce research, scholarship, and creative expression in the public interest; and to serve as a resource to the region and the state through effective stewardship of university resources.

Assessment: A Centralized Approach

At the time of the most recent visit, CWU had a decentralized approach to outcomes assessment. There were varied approaches to assessment and how the data was being used. Programs with specialized accreditations tended to follow the requirements of their accreditors, which was also varied. The university decided to develop a standardized approach to assessment, one that would be sustainable and structured to provide benefits to programs without undue burden being placed on the faculty. 

University-Wide Assessment Team

To centralize and standardize its approach to assessment, CWU has made some significant changes. These changes began with the formation of a university-wide assessment team. Overseen by the Office of the Provost, this team will consist of a University Assessment Director, the Accreditation Liaison Officer, and a representative from each of the four colleges and the General Education program that will serve as Assessment Liaisons. This team will be advised by the University Accreditation Advisory Committee that is made up of senior leadership members from Academic and Student Life. 

To be clear, it is not the job of the assessment team to conduct program assessments. That is the responsibility of the faculty. The assessment team members will help build the processes, advise faculty about the standardized assessment process, and will ensure that faculty see the benefits of assessment are able to use what has been learned to improve curriculum. 

Developing the Assessment Process

To date, the assessment team has created a standard process for programmatic assessment. The first step was to gather and examine the program-level outcomes for all majors and graduate programs. A document was drafted that described the proper way to develop program-level outcomes and this was adopted by the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee who now applies these standards to any programs that want to update their outcomes. Once outcomes are updated, they are being mapped to the curriculum to link them to sources of evidence regarding student competence. Next will be the identification of standards of performance that will be established for each program outcome. This is key to the assessment process as it allows program leads to identify areas where there may be a gap. Then action can be taken to improve the curriculum. 

Assessing General Education

When the General Education courses were built, each one had a list of outcomes, activities, and assessments. These were aligned with the General Education outcomes for the part of the program where they reside. This year, we have selected a sampling of General Education courses for evaluation. In each case, the course originator has been asked to identify how the course is meeting the General Education outcomes by looking at specific aspects of the course and examining sample assignments. The assessment efforts will be documented and aggregated to provide a larger understanding about how students are performing in this program. 

https://www.cwu.edu/mission