Westminster Keeps Quality of Educational Experience High Through Student Assessment Day
One Day, Once a Year
Westminster College takes its commitment to providing a quality educational experience for each student quite seriously…so seriously, in fact, that once a year classes are suspended for Assessment Day so students can focus completely on evaluating their Westminster experience. This year, Tuesday, March 18, was the day selected for students to take some time to reflect on their academic progress and their level of satisfaction with the education they are receiving at Westminster. Students at the Westminster-Mesa campus will participate in similar assessments in April.
Using the Data
The results obtained from these assessment tools are not only used to internally evaluate and make improvements but to make national comparisons to peer institutions and to be used as a factor in determining national recognitions by national evaluation services such as The Princeton Review.
One of the assessment surveys that was given to all freshmen and seniors is the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). NSSE is a widely respected assessment tool used nationally for benchmarking four themes of campus life: academic challenge, learning with peers, experiences with faculty, and campus environments.
NSSE documents dimensions of quality in undergraduate education and provides information and assistance to colleges, universities and other organizations to improve student learning. An annual survey of college students allows institutions to assess the extent to which they engage in educational practices associated with high levels of learning and development.
Both the Westminster Focus on Teaching Committee and Westminster Assessment Committee originally recommended the use of this benchmark tool in 2003 to measure student learning experiences. The Westminster Assessment Committee has continued to approve the use of the NSSE every year in order to determine what progress is being made on each benchmark.
Feedback from Graduating Seniors
Seniors also were given exit interviews on Tuesday where they were asked to articulate the strengths and weaknesses of their preparation in a specific major. That information will be given to academic departments so each individual department can evaluate its own academic majors.
Juniors took the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), which evaluates their critical thinking skills: critical thinking, writing, and reasoning. Their scores will be compared with the scores they received when they took the CLA as freshman so their level of improvement can be gauged.
In addition, the individual departments of Accounting, Political Science, and Psychology gave their own knowledge based tests to seniors to find out .how effective their departments have been in teaching students within their academic discipline.
Overall Student Satisfaction
All students took the Student Satisfaction Survey Tuesday, an internal assessment of college services such residential life, dining, and class registration so the College itself can know what is going well and what needs improvement from the students’ perspective.
Now all this assessment data will be distributed to the appropriate places for evaluation to be used to take Westminster to greater heights of academic excellence and student satisfaction.