Faculty Handbook 2017-2018

F.4.c. Department and Program Assessment and Review

Each academic department, academic program, and special program of the College has developed a plan for the academic assessment of students. Quasi-departmental agencies responsible for collegiate center and learning domain requirements and the library also participate. The assessment of student academic achievement by departments is an integral part of a larger system of departmental and program evaluations. Student assessment is an annual activity in each department, oriented toward gathering outcomes data to be used with other information in the department’s self-evaluation that is to occur once in every seven-year cycle. Each plan is on file in the assessment program file in the academic affairs office. Each is structured in accord with the principles stated below.

Assessment instruments

Every academic department assesses the academic achievements of students through some combination of the following means:

  • graded course examinations;
  • required papers or research projects;
  • juried recitals or performances;
  • Odyssey projects;
  • Senior Seminars;
  • presentation of papers or projects at state, regional, or national meetings;
  • Capstone Experiences and Comprehensive examinations;
  • laboratory and fieldwork experiences;
  • internships;
  • student evaluations.

The use and weighting of each of these elements vary from department to department according to the nature of the disciplines. However, the Committee on Faculty monitors every department plan for consistency with campus-wide practices and for the assurance of multiple measures of student performance. Solitary reliance upon graded course examinations or projects and upon internally generated comprehensive examinations is not acceptable. External review of examinations, assignments, syllabi, and overall curricular structure and offerings by consultants from similar institutions are typical components of departmental assessment plans. Every department also has available to it the GRE scores of its majors and the record, as compiled by the Office of Career Development, of its majors in securing placement in graduate school and employment.

The Vision for Student Learning

The assessment of student academic achievement reflects and is governed by this statement, and it is cited here as the basis for the assessment of the College’s success in educating students. To the degree that the graduate has realized this statement, the College has attained success. Measurements of the degree of such success are used, through systematic procedures and policies stated below, in the continual improvement of the College’s programs.

Report on Self-Evaluation

Each department and program conducts a self-evaluation approximately once every seven years. The Provost, in consultation with the Committee on Faculty, sets the schedule for self-evaluation and initiate the process annually with the selected departments and programs. The report has three parts: an initial self-evaluation narrative, a consultant’s report and response, and a departmental final response. The final full report comprising all three parts is given to the Committee on Faculty and is kept on file in the Office of Academic Affairs.


The initial self-evaluation narrative should describe the following:

  • The character of the discipline and the place of its content and methodology in liberal arts study;
  • The character of the department and its approach to the presentation of the discipline at Hendrix;
  • The learning goals of the department for the general student and the major;
  • Offerings and the typical path or paths of study for the general student and the major, and the connection between departmental aims and offerings;
  • Typical teaching and learning activities in and out of the classroom, and the connection between learning goals and these activities;
  • The connection between the program, and the mission of the College with respect to liberal learning;
  • A commentary on the role of the department in implementing the Vision for Student Learning;
  • The outcomes of the program, together with supporting documentation specifying the methods used to reach conclusions about these outcomes;
  • A description of and commentary on the human, budgetary, and other resources available to the department;
  • The results of the department's self-evaluation and the plans for addressing problems or needs that have been identified.

A subsequent self-evaluation narrative should describe the following:

  • Updated information from the previous self-evaluation narrative highlighting any changes in the goals, character, approach, staffing, funding, and offerings of the department or program.
  • Discussion of the resolution or continuance of any issues raised in the previous evaluation.
  • Evaluation of and recommended revisions to the student learning assessment plan including plans for integrating assessment into the planning process.

Consultant’s Report

The report of the department’s external consultant should contain an evaluation of the material included in the self-evaluation narrative and a verification of the narrative in light of the site visit, together with recommendations and suggestions for improvement. The report should also contain a specific evaluation of the student learning assessment plan.

Departmental Response

The response by the department to the consultant’s report should address the consultant’s recommendations and suggestions. The department should state the results of the department’s self-evaluation and the plans for addressing problems or needs that have been identified. This should include an articulation of the goals for program enhancements and strategies to achieve them over the next seven years. The response should also contain a copy of the final version of the student learning assessment plan.