BSC Assessment Plan

Executive Summary

BSC’s original 5 year assessment plan was approved in spring, 1990.  It set the direction for assessment in general education, composition and computation skills, major programs and student social/personal growth.  An Assessment Steering Committee provided oversight to sub-committees working in each of these areas.  A second 5-year plan, adopted in 1994, outlined pathways to institutionalizing assessment and using results for continuous improvement in teaching and learning. The current plan rests on the foundation of prior work.

The current assessment plan exhibits the six characteristics of an assessment program recommended by Middle States Association:

The overall purpose of assessment is two-fold:

  1. Improvement/effectiveness: Through benchmarking, cohort and longitudinal analyses assessment results provide useful information for improving programs, services and the institution as a whole.

  2. Accountability/accreditation: Through surveys, assessment of student satisfaction and performance all stakeholders should be aware of how well the institution is meeting it’s goals and objectives and mission overall. The assessment website and newsletter are available to all campus constituents. 

Introduction:  History of Assessment at BSC

Assessment at BSC grew out of a request by then SUNY Provost Joseph Burke in June 1989.  For the next few years, teams of faculty/staff and administrators were sent to various assessment conferences. An assessment committee structure was built. On April 20, 1990 the College Senate, BSC’s governance body reviewed and accepted the first five-year assessment plan.  Administrative responsibility for assessment resided in the Office of the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs/Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

Originally assessment was based upon a series of principles and guidelines.  These principles set the parameters within which assessment was to proceed at BSC:   

First Five-year Plan (1989 – 1994)

Tasks, responsibilities and potential implementation guidelines were outlined in

Four areas: General education, major programs, computation and composition and social/personal growth. The primary focus was the process of setting goals and objectives in these four areas. A committee/sub-committee structure was set up that included over 100 faculty/staff/administrators over the five-year period.  Major program assessment was helped along by a FIPSE grant, which enabled 6 “pioneering” departments to begin addressing means by which assessment would take place.

Accomplishments included:

  1. The strategic plan for the College contained a list of expectations of BSC graduates taken from various assessment efforts and consolidated into one statement

  2. Three methods of assessing outcomes in general education were conducted sporadically. These included analysis of course taking patterns, a series of focus groups, and administration of a national critical thinking test.  These efforts resulted in the College Senate modifying   the general education requirements by eliminating a category of 18 hours of general education electives.

  3. BSC earned national recognition through its approach to fostering assessment in the academic major through several papers and presentations at national and regional assessment meetings.

  4. All departments were required to include assessment procedures in the self-study portion of the periodic 5 year program review process.

  5. A set of guidelines and a manual on assessment in the major were developed.  The manual set out an annual reporting mechanism.

  6. Review of entering student test results in composition resulted in a decision to redesign the delivery system of English 099 and to provide a non-credit mathematics component.

  7. Innovative methodology to assess social and personal growth was piloted and repeated for 2 years.

Second Five-year Plan (1994-1999)

The second five-year plan emphasized the college’s need to clarify the role of assessment within the campus culture and more specifically, the campus planning and decision-making structure.  It became clear that in order for assessment activities to continue, remain viable and be taken seriously by the many individuals charged to conduct them, decisions on campus must be tied to assessment results.

A number of agendas were set out to advance assessment activities and in particular to ensure the utilization of assessment results.  The agendas included:

Accomplishments included:

  1. The Assessment Advisory Board assumed an oversight role.  A faculty member was assigned full-time to directing the assessment efforts.

  2. An Assessment web site and newsletter, Assessment Matters, were developed to disseminate data to the campus community.

  3. Assessment activities were routinized:  Entering students and recent alumni are surveyed every year.  Current students are surveyed every 3 years.  Departments annually report their assessment activities and plans.  Assessment briefs are generated annually on retention and graduate rates benchmarked with other schools.

  4. The Sr. Advisor to the Provost for Assessment is a member of the Academic Affairs Council and the Steering Committee for Strategic Planning.

Third Five-year Plan 2002-2007

Assessment does not occur in a vacuum.  The development of a third five-year plan was delayed somewhat due to changing requirements from external stakeholders, SUNY/SUNY Trustees and changes occurring in the administration at BSC.

The third five-year plan incorporates assessment across the campus.  Academic programs in general education and major areas will be assessed on a cyclical basis.  A full cycle of assessment in general education will occur every 3 years and a full cycle of assessment in major programs will occur every 5 years corresponding with either external accreditation or BSC program review schedules.

In addition to academic programs, all non-instructional departments will also engage in assessment.  Every department will develop an assessment plan that sets out goals/objectives, specific activities that meet the goals/objectives, methodology for collecting information/data, criteria against which to measure success in meeting goals/objectives and a process for improvement based upon the results.