Introduction to Assessment of Student Learning

Institutional assessment at Valley City State University begins with and is guided by the Mission:

Valley City State University is a public, regional university offering exceptional programs in an active, learner-centered community that promotes meaningful scholarship, ethical service, and the skilled use of technology. As an important knowledge resource, the University offers programs and outreach that enrich the quality of life in North Dakota and beyond. Through flexible, accessible, and innovative baccalaureate and master's programs, VCSU prepares students to succeed as educators, leaders, and engaged citizens in an increasingly complex and diverse society. (VCSU Mission, 9/2013)

This mission along with corresponding vision, values, purposes, and goals inspire all assessment activity. Student learning assessment 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.