Departments that develop useful programs for assessment are in the best position to articulate their strengths and address their weaknesses. From attracting new majors to justifying new faculty positions, information gleaned from well defined assessment practices will be of great value to your program.
The department Chair is responsible for coordinating the department conversation about department goals and the effectiveness with which those goals are being met. This conversation may take place annually in a department retreat, biennially, or it may be undertaken periodically in regular department meetings. Some departments may choose to have an assessment subcommittee within the department. While some assessment activities are imposed by accreditation bodies or granting agencies, many meaningful assessment efforts are undertaken by departments voluntarily in the spirit of program improvement.
The department Chair should work with the Office of Planning and Institutional Research and the university assessment coordinator, Ken Abernethy, to ensure its assessment efforts will meet the requirements set by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Within these requirements and to maximize the value of this exercise, tailor your assessments to provide meaning and value relevant to your department.
The Office of Planning and Institutional Research conducts a senior exit survey during rehearsal on the morning of graduation. Approximately 95% of graduating seniors complete this survey. The Office of Planning and Institutional Research makes summary results from this survey for all graduates and those with a specific major available to academic departments to assist in their assessment efforts.
In addition to the information provided by the Office of Planning and Institutional Research, many departments have found it useful to conduct their own senior exit surveys and interviews with graduates to gauge student satisfaction with department programs. A sample of these survey questionnaires can be provided upon request. Periodic surveys of alumni can also provide useful feedback for the department.