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Assessment Overview

UAS has strategically placed self-assessment at the heart of its activities. Through this commitment to continuous self-reflection and improvement, UAS has developed a culture of assessment that guides decision-making institution-wide. A key facet of UAS’s assessment activities is assessing student achievement of pre-defined learning outcomes. The process starts with the development of learning outcomes assessment plans for each academic program, followed by plan implementation, reporting, and ultimately looping back the insights gained from this process into program improvements. Program reviews, required by Board of Regents policy, are an integral part of our practice to ensure that we meet UAS’s mission. Reviews focus on data-informed evidence of quality teaching and learning, graduation effectiveness, success of graduates in securing employment or advancing their educational goals, community engagement, adequacy of available resources, alignment with related programs at UAS and across UA, and program elements requiring improvement.

Details on this project such as student competencies, and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the companion tabs of this assessment page. You may also download the UAS Academic Program Assessment & Review schedule.

Please see the Memo from the Provost 10-21-16 for more information and timelines regarding our program of annual assessments.

Program Assessment Timeline for Academic Year 2017–2018
ActivityDate due
Provost sends reminder memo about Annual Program Assessments to Deans, Directors, Faculty SenateOctober 9, 2017
Institutional Review data provided by Institutional Effectiveness prior to Convocation
Deans & Directors consult with faculty to review/update, or develop annual assessment plansBy October 31, 2017
Department chairs/program heads work with faculty to prepare Annual Program AssessmentsFall - Spring Semester
Reminder Memo about Program Assessment deadlines sent out by Provost to Deans & DirectorsJanuary 5, 2018
Annual Program Assessments due to Deans and DirectorsMarch 1, 2018
Annual Program Assessments due to Provost's Office (following Dean/Director review)April 2, 2018
Provost's website updated with Annual Program AssessmentsMay 1, 2018

Undergraduate Competencies

The faculty has defined six competencies in which baccalaureate degree students will be assessed periodically during their studies at UAS. The general education courses as well as degree requirements will help students develop and improve their skills in six critical areas. No one course will cover all the competencies. Assignments and tasks will be embedded into the course objectives of many different courses at different levels of the curricula to provide students the opportunity to learn and demonstrate mastery of these competencies.

College graduates should be able to write, speak, read, and listen effectively for a variety of purposes and audiences. Whether their aim is personal, academic, or professional, they should be able to communicate ideas and information effectively.

A quantitatively literate person is capable of analytical and mathematical reasoning. This individual can read and understand quantitative arguments, follow logical development and mathematical methods, solve mathematical and quantitative problems, perform mathematical calculations, express functional relationships, and apply mathematical methods. As a minimum, a student should know the mathematical techniques covered in the general education mathematical requirements.

Competency in information literacy combines the skills of being able to 1) identify needed information; 2) locate and access the information; 3) analyze and evaluate the content; 4) integrate and communicate the information; and 5) evaluate the product and the process. Reading and writing literacies plus library skills provide the foundation to access the increasing volume of information available electronically.

Students should have the knowledge to make efficient use of computers and information technology in their personal and professional lives because basic technological knowledge and skills apply to all fields and disciplines. Necessary skills range from a basic ability to use a keyboard through word processing concepts, spreadsheet and graphics applications to telecommunications, conferencing, electronic mail, and social networking technologies.

Professional behavior is expected of college students. Success in professional life depends on many behaviors, including responsibility, good work habits, ethical decision making, recognition of the value of community service, and successful human relations.

Competency in critical thinking reflects proficiency in modes of thought: conceptualizing, analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating, interpreting, and/or applying ideas and information. A critical thinker can approach a concept from multiple perspectives and frames of reference, compare and contrast ideas or models, and demonstrate a willingness to take intellectual risks. A critical thinker knows not only how but also when to apply particular modes of thinking. It should be noted that problem solving and analytical approaches may vary from discipline to discipline.

Graduate Competencies

The Graduate Curriculum Committee officially adopted Graduate Competencies in Spring 2008.  Previously, the graduate programs had informally followed the six undergraduate competencies contained in the UAS Academic Catalog. Graduate programs are now implementing these into appropriate course syllabi and subsequent assessments.  The Competencies are:

  •     1.1    Candidates possess effective professional writing skills appropriate in their fields.

  •     1.2    Candidates are effective in presentations and professional discourse.

  •     1.3    Candidates use substantial comprehension skills in reading and listening.

  •     1.4    Candidates understand the role of technology and effectively use it for professional communication.

  •     2.1    Candidates recognize ethical and professional responsibilities.

  •     2.2    Candidates can work effectively in various roles with diverse individuals and groups to achieve common goals.

  •     2.3    Candidates can assume a leadership role, when necessary.

  •     3.1    Candidates identify, analyze and conceptualize problems in their field.

  •     3.2    Candidates evaluate and synthesize data, considering multiple perspectives.

  •     3.3    Candidates understand the holistic and systemic nature of issues in relation to various environments.

  •     3.4    Candidates understand the role of technology in analysis and decision-making.

  •     3.5    Candidates exercise judgment in decision-making.

Assessment of academic programs is a best practice in higher education... Assessment is an ongoing process designed to monitor and improve student learning.  Faculty explicitly define what they want students to learn, verify that the curriculum is designed to foster that learning, collect empirical data that indicate the extent of the learning, and use the data to improve the program. 

Allen, M. J. (2006). Assessing general education programs. Bolton, Mass: Anker Pub. Co.  p. 1.

Comprehensive program assessment plans are needed for all UAS certificate, associate, bachelor, and master’s degree programs.

The UAS Undergraduate Student Competencies are typically introduced in general education courses, and specific competencies will be further developed in individual upper division courses relevant to a particular degree program.  The six competencies are not directly reflected in degree program learning outcomes unless specific to the degree, i.e. quantitative reasoning for B.S. Math, or communication for B.L.A. Communication.

Generally, it is the combination of courses the students have taken to degree completion.  The emphasis is NOT on the individual courses. The assessment plan does not assess general education courses and developmental courses, but is focused on the learning outcomes of an overall degree or certificate program.

Graduate Student Competencies were adopted by the Graduate Curriculum Committee in Spring 2008. However, it is expected that undergraduate competencies will be reflected in graduate students skills and behaviors.  Click here to see an overview of the undergraduate and graduate student competencies.

Assessment vocabulary and definitions vary throughout the academic assessment literature. UAS policy indicates the use of the following definitions so that all faculty, staff and administrators will have a common understanding of the terms.

Definition of Terms

  • Goals – What students should learn, understand or appreciate as a result of studies. Statements found in mission statements, professional organization standards.
  • Outcomes –What students should be able to demonstrate, represent or produce? Three areas of outcomes: Knowledge (content), skills (abilities), disposition (professional behavior). Should identify what students. 
  • Curriculum Map – tracks where goals and outcomes are addressed (i.e., Introduced, Developed or Mastered) in the curriculum. The six UAS Competencies can be mapped separately or included in the degree program map.
  • Direct Measures- observation – Student work such as completion of capstone course, portfolio, tests, labs, presentations.
  • Indirect Measures-perception – How students, employers, alumni feel about learning as through surveys, focus groups, time to degree, job placement data.
  • Rubric – carefully designed rating chart or scoring guide by reference to goals, outcomes and expectations for proficiency. (Future rubrics designed by faculty)

Yes, if the course is taught to specific outcomes and if the performance and criteria are stated and shared among faculty (i.e., if the grade reliably represents learning of specific outcomes at an identified level of proficiency).


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