When defining assessment the focus is usually on student learning. At Coastal Carolina University the term assessment takes on a much broader vision to include the concept of institutional effectiveness. Assessment is seen as the foundation by which we measure how our mission and major institutional values and commitments are achieved. Continuous institutional improvement is accomplished through a systemic and systematic thoughtful process that measures and uses results to increase academic quality and enhance students’ knowledge, skills, and values. Student learning and development is a major component of the assessment of institutional effectiveness and is determined by how units and programs contribute to the university culture, environment, and student growth.
Our systemic and systematic assessment system follows a four step cycle that aligns with the assessment definition stated by Thomas Angelo in 1995, then director of the AAHE Assessment Forum.
"Assessment is a means for focusing our collective attention, examining our assumptions, and creating a shared culture dedicated to continuously improving the quality of higher learning. Assessment requires making expectations and standards for quality explicit and public; systematically gathering evidence on how well performance matches those expectations and standards; analyzing and interpreting the evidence; and using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance." (Thomas A. Angelo, AAHE Bulletin, April 1995, p. 11). According to Angelo assessment involves:
- Making explanations explicit and transparent,
- Setting appropriate criteria and high expectations for learning quality,
- Systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence, and
- Using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance.