Introduction to Assessment of Student Learning

Institutional assessment begins with the mission at Valley City State University. Valley City State University sees itself as preparing people for life through exemplary practices in teaching, learning and service (VCSU Mission, 2/04). That statement and its corresponding vision, values, purposes, and goals inspire all assessment activity. Assessment of student learning is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning'; rooted in a learner centered philosophy. This plays a critical role in determining and responding effectively to student needs (AAHE Bulletin, 11/95).

Over the past decade, understandings of academic assessment at Valley City State University have developed from an initially broad, unclear discussion to a specific, focused use of Abilities to shape curriculum and define outcome measures. In developing its assessment process, VCSU is guided by the AAHE principles of good practice for assessing student learning:
  • The assessment of student learning begins with educational values.
  • Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time.
  • Assessment works best when the programs it seeks to improve have clear, explicitly stated purposes.
  • Assessment requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to the experiences that lead to those outcomes.
  • Assessment works best when it is ongoing, not episodic.
  • Assessment fosters wider improvement when representatives from across the educational community are involved.
  • Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues of use and illuminates questions people really care about.
  • Assessment is most likely to lead to improvement when it is part of a larger set of conditions that promote change.
  • Through assessment, educators meet responsibilities to students and to the public.
(AAHE Bulletin, 09/10)
Responsibility for assessing and improving student learning at VCSU is shared by the classroom teacher, the General Education Council, major programs, Curriculum Committee, the Faculty Senate, Assessment Committee, and the students. This booklet describes the various assessment activities.