The College follows a continuous, four-year assessment cycle, over which time every department conducts a focused self-evaluation. In addition, the College is reviewed every 10 years for the purposes of reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The review is a college-wide project that consists of multiple points of exchange between the College and the Commission. This process is coordinated by a college committee of faculty and staff, with oversight provided by the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.
Although assessment can be viewed as added work, departments can also view it as an opportunity to learn more about what our students are learning, and to make desired improvements to the academic program or student-based departmental culture. Effective assessment projects do not need to take on everything in an academic program at once, nor do interventions need to be onerous. Good assessment plans are focused and provide "feedback loops" that can be invaluable in determining where you can best, and even most efficiently, effect improvement in your department.
Since these cycles (both assessment and accreditation) have long durations (years), and to foster continuity, each department is expected to have a person who has been trained, by the Director of Institutional Research, in the procedures related to these evaluations. This role may be assigned to you, or to someone else in your department. Training will include advice on creating thoughtful and efficient assessment plans.
If someone else, this point person may need help from you, the chair, as they fulfill their duties. You can assist them in a number of ways, such as:
- Documenting department decisions as well as discussions about assessment.
- Keeping records of exemplary student achievements during and after their Cornell years.
- Conducting occasional department brainstorm sessions.
- Keeping a list of immediate and future departmental goals and needs.
These strategies will help your assessment point person as he/she works to fit your department's activities into the complete picture of the College's assessment efforts.