Faculty Handbook 2019-2020

I.7. External Evaluation and Assessment Issues

Student Learning and Assessment

Learning Goals and Student Assessment Plans.

Chairs should make certain that the department/program has learning goals relevant for the majors and the minors offered by the department/program.  The most recent learning goals are available on the department/program web pages.  Any changes that are made in the learning goals should be sent to the Associate Provost and the web page should be updated.  Learning goals are also collected here in the Student Assessment Plan links in Faculty Resources.

In addition to the learning goals, each department has a student assessment plan that describes how student learning is assessed.  Again, the most recent version is available at the above link in Faculty Resources.  The student assessment plan describes how the department/program will evaluate how well the students are progressing with the learning goals.  More detailed examples of how data is evaluated can be found in Section F.4.c. of the Faculty Handbook.

Departments/programs are expected to use a minimum of one direct measure and one indirect measure.  [A direct measure involves faculty or expert assessment of student learning while an indirect measure involves student opinion of expression of their own learning.]  The Student Assessment Plan should focus on a short list of measures that are reviewed and used by the department/program on an annual basis.  
Each department has a description of how the department/program’s learning goals relate to the Vision for Student Learning.  The link above also contains those documents.  Finally, it is strongly recommended that the department create a curriculum map, or matrix, showing how the courses in the program relate to the learning goals.  If your department has done this, the result can be found in the annual assessment report for the year the matrix was created.

Course Syllabi.

Chairs should make sure that all the faculty teaching courses in the department or program have course syllabi available for students.  Although Hendrix does not have a required format or content, the chair should advise the faculty to include grading policies, attendance policies (which should be compatible with the attendance policy in the Catalog), course learning goals, office hours, academic integrity guidelines for the class, and the statement provided by Academic Support Services on accommodations for disability.

Chairs should maintain a collection of recent course syllabi used in the department or program.

Annual Assessment Planning and Reporting.

Department/program chairs should complete an annual assessment form at the end of each academic year.  Introduced in 2004-2005, the form emphasizes how departments and programs can follow the following basic assessment cycle.  In the past two year, the forms have been used to gather information for the HLC assurance document.
Generally, the items covered in the form relate to the standard three-step cycle of assessment: 

  • Articulate learning goals,
  • Gather information about how well students are achieving the goals
  • Use the information for improvement.

This form queries the chair about the department or program’s Student Assessment Plan (SAP).  Chairs are asked if the SAP is up-to-date and available to students, if learning goals appear in the department or program’s syllabi, and if the department collects at least one indirect and one direct piece of student data.  Chairs are asked if a curriculum map has been completed for their majors and minors and what has been learned in the department or program’s assessment meetings.  Finally, chairs are asked to define one assessment action item for the following year.

These completed forms, along with the department or program’s Student Assessment Plan are available online in Faculty Resources web pages showing each department and program’s progress since 2004-2005.  The Associate Provost and the Academic Assessment Committee monitors and evaluates these assessment activities and reports back to the department or program chair as well as to the Committee on Faculty, which uses the information in their decision-making concerning faculty lines and departmental budgets.

External Program Review and Assessment Plan Review

Each department/program conducts a self-evaluation and external review once every 7-10 years.  The Committee on Faculty evaluates each external review thoroughly and uses the information in their decision-making concerning faculty lines and departmental budgets.  One major emphasis of the cycle of reviews should be the evaluation and revision of the student learning assessment plan to assure that the annual process is useful and manageable.  For those programs that have not participated in a previous self-evaluation, a major emphasis should be the development of an annual plan for assessing student learning.  Statistical data is available from the Registrar’s Office and the Institutional Research Office.

As described in the Faculty Handbook assessment policy statement, the review process has the following three components:

  • The self-evaluation narrative,
  • The consultant’s visit and report,
  • The department/program response to the consultant’s report.

Previous reports all available from Academic Affairs.

Self-evaluation Narrative.

The self-evaluation narrative should speak to the following issues:

  • 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 for the general education student and for any degree programs offered by the department/program;
  • Available coursework and the typical path or paths of study for the general education student and for any degree programs;
  • Typical teaching and learning activities in and out of the classroom, and the connection between departmental goals and these activities;
  • The connection between the program and the mission of the College including the relationship of the curriculum to the Vision for Student Learning;
  • The outcomes of the degree programs, 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;
  • Plans for addressing problems or needs that have been identified.

If the external review is not the first conducted by the department/program, then information in the above list that has not changed can be summarized as long as the following issues are included:

  • 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 and Consultant’s Report.

The selection of the consultant is a crucial part of the evaluation process and chairs are urged to confer with all members of the department/program.  In addition to expertise relative to your discipline, you should consider the following qualifications:

  • Experience with annual plans for assessing student learning;
  • Extensive experience as a faculty member in a small, undergraduate liberal arts college environment;
  • Recent experience with the Higher Learning Commission or Southern Association re-accreditation process;
  • Experience with engaged learning in the discipline;
  • Previous experience as an external program consultant.

Final selection should be made in consultation with the appropriate Area Chair, the Associate Provost and the Provost.  During the semester before the visit is to be scheduled, you should submit one or more names and vitae to the Associate Provost and receive approval before inviting a consultant to participate. 

Once you have approval, the chair should invite the consultant to participate.  Your invitation conversation should include the following items:

  • The procedures and goals for an external consultant. 
  • Payment details:
         ¤ The consultant completes a W-9 
         ¤ The payment amount is a $750 stipend plus reasonable travel expenses (keeping expenses at a $750 total)
         ¤ Expenses are reimbursed as we get them in Academic Affairs
         ¤ The stipend is paid after receipt of the final report
  • The schedule details:
         ¤ When the consultant receives the self-study narrative
         ¤ Schedule the on-campus visit (as described in a later section)
         ¤ Consultant report due one month after visit
  • Visit meals details:
         ¤ Keep the meals on a small scale with a few faculty members instead of trying to include the entire department
         ¤ Remember that the consultant usually prefers short meals with plenty of evening downtime to work on visit notes.
         ¤ Consider working meals.

In preparation for the visit, the following items should be collected and sent to the consultant:

  • Self-evaluation narrative
  • Annual plan for assessing student learning and annual assessment reports
  • Web addresses for college, department/program, Catalog, Faculty Handbook, Guide to Academic Planning, and Odyssey Program Guide
  • Admission viewbook (or link)
  • Curriculum vitae of faculty and staff
  • Recent enrollment data
  • Course syllabi
  • Other data collected for assessing student learning

The consultant should spend 1 ½ to 2 days on campus.  A typical schedule is included below.  Please plan as far in the future as you can since the visit includes your department, the Committee on Faculty, the Provost, and, if possible, the President.  The appropriate area or building administrative assistant should help develop the schedule and all involved should be sent calendar notifications.  The consultant’s vita and the visit schedule should be sent to program faculty members and the Committee on Faculty at least two weeks before the visit.   The consultant should be prepared for a concluding meeting that includes department/program faculty along with the Committee on Faculty during which a preliminary summary of the visit should be given.  A formal written report to the chair and Associate Provost should be received within one month of the visit.

Department/Program Response.

Once the consultant’s report has been received, the department or program should write a formal response to the report.  That report should be completed before the end of the semester when the report was received.
Once the department’s response has been written, the original narrative, the consultant’s report, the response, and any changes in the assessment plan should be sent to the Associate Provost. The materials are added to the assessment files in Academic Affairs.

Typical Timeline for an External Review

Planning Semester (typically Fall)

  • Gather information for self-study narrative.
  • Prepare a short list of possible consultants.
  • Ask Academic Affairs for consultant approval.
  • Invite approved consultant and schedule visit.
    [Target:  Before mid-semester]
  • Complete self-study narrative.

Consultant Semester (typically spring)

  • Complete consultant visit schedule and schedule lodging.
    [Target:  Eight weeks before visit]
  • Send materials to consultant.
    [Target:  Six weeks before visit]
  • Send materials and schedule to department/program faculty and Committee on Faculty.
    [Target:  Two weeks before visit]
  • Make final local travel arrangements with consultant.
    [Target:  Two weeks before visit]
  • Coordinate visit and get travel receipts from consultant.
  • Thank consultant and remind about the report; submit local receipts to Academic Affairs.
    [Target:  One week after visit]
  • When the report is submitted, notify Academic Affairs so stipend can be paid.
  • Start the process for preparing the response report.
    [Target:  No later than the first half of the semester following the visit.]

Typical Schedule for Consultant’s Visit

First Day    
     Evening  Arrive Little Rock airport, met by department chair
Dinner with Department and lodging at Conway motel
Second Day    
     7:30 Breakfast with department chair
     8:30-9:30 Meeting with Provost and Associate Provost
Academic Affairs conference room, Fausett Hall Suite 202
     9:30-12:00 Individual meetings with department faculty
Faculty members' offices
     12:00-1:30  Lunch with department majors and minors
Private dining room, Student Life and Technology Center
     1:30-2:30  Tour of campus and facilities
     2:30-4:00  Individual meetings with faculty in department and allied programs
Faculty members' offices
     6:00 Dinner with department
Third day    
     7:30 Breakfast with department chair
     8:30-9:30  Meeting with Director of Library
Bailey Library
     9:30-10:00 Meeting with the President (not required if President is traveling)
President's Office, Fausett third floor
     10:00-11:00  Concluding session with Department and Committee on Faculty
Hatcher Conference Room, Fausett third floor
     11:30 Lunch with department chair, leave campus for Little Rock airport


  1. Make sure someone is assigned to take the consultant from each meeting to the next.
  2. Get receipts for travel expenses from consultant before departure.