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Academic Affairs Assessment Planning

Ferris State University is committed to making certain our programs and courses provide students with the best possible learning experience so that they will have the skills and knowledge to be successful in their careers and lives. To maintain that level of quality and to work to continually improve the educational environment at all levels, we are dedicated to regularly gathering and evaluating evidence of student learning. This evidence also demonstrates the quality of our programs and courses to future students, possible funding sources, accrediting bodies, and others. 

In addition to the assessment of student learning an important part of assessment at Ferris State University is a variety of other measures of institutional effectiveness, those related to Academic Affairs addressed in the second half of this report, the remainder of university assessment provided separately. 

A calendar of assessment goals and activities will be updated yearly. Below is a list of the key ongoing activities.

Student Learning Outcomes Assessment

  •  Assessment Ownership & Responsibility

    As it is part of the professional responsibility of programs and faculty members to collect and evaluate evidence of student learning to make appropriate improvements in curriculum and pedagogy, the control over that assessment process should also rest with the responsible parties. Programs and faculty members can make the best choices about the learning outcomes, the most effective assessment methods, the best processes for collecting and analyzing the data, and the most informed judgments about what changes are suggested by the evidence.

    Assessment evidence of student learning is not intended be used to negatively affect the employment, promotion status, or salary of faculty. Ferris recognizes that faculty can best collect and analyze effective evidence of their student learning and make changes to enhance the educational environment when they can do so without fear of penalty.

    Faculty members in the programs, majors, minors, and General Education are responsible for regularly collecting and analyzing evidence of student learning in relation to the stated outcomes and using that evidence to make any valuable improvements.

    Where there are courses with multiple sections, the department that houses those courses will be responsible for facilitating the collection and evaluation of student learning across multiple sections.

    Faculty members are responsible for collecting data on student learning in their own courses to determine where improvements could be made. The College, Department, and the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning are responsible for providing faculty with the training and support necessary to engage in student learning assessment.

  •  Learning Outcomes
     Given the focus on student learning, all programs and courses will be defined by clearly stated and assessable learning outcomes. Assessment will establish the extent to which students achieve the level of proficiency expected for the given learning outcomes and will be the basis for making changes that will enhance future student learning.

Assessment Descriptions

  •  Learning Outcomes Assessment

    Learning Outcomes Assessment refers to direct or indirect measures of student learning. This is different from the measure of individual student performance to evaluate the student. Instead, student learning assessment consists in collecting data on student learning in the aggregate to determine how programs or courses may be made more effective. Measures such as standardized exams, licensure or certification exams, portfolios, capstone projects, pre-and post tests, writing samples, juried reviews of projects, externally reviewed performances, evaluations of clinical and internship performances and more are direct measures of student learning. Other measures such as NSSE or the EBI surveys, other surveys of students, employers, and alumni, and career success offer indirect measures that can support direct measures. Student course surveys (SAI's), grades or GPA's, placement rates, retention, enrollment trends, and faculty-student ratios may be useful measures of institutional effectiveness but are not measures of student learning.

  •  Academic Program Review
    Academic Program Review is a fundamental and cumulative part of the assessment effort through which regularly collected data, including data on student learning and other institutional measures, is carefully reviewed through the program review process to yield specific recommendations. Program review applies to all structured educational units including programs, majors, minors, pre-programs, General Education, the business core and other non-degree program entities.

    Academic Program Review self-study reports are cyclical and cumulative, based on regularly collected evidence, and include regularly gathered data on student learning.
  •  The Benefits of the FSU Assessment Culture
    There are many benefits of the assessment practices of Ferris State University. Assessment data can allow programs and courses to be adjusted to help students achieve the desired outcomes. The data can provide an opportunity to rethink the outcomes for programs and courses. Assessment data provides a rational basis for institutional planning. Assessment practices are a fundamental part of obtaining or retaining accreditation at the program or college level. Further, assessment data can document and demonstrate to external parties the quality of our programs and courses and so can serve as an important part of institutional recruitment and retention.
  •  Accreditation Self Study Review Process
    Accreditation is a major component of our ongoing assessment efforts. Thirty programs are accredited by professional accrediting bodies. Academic Affairs takes an active role in the self study process with each program. The self study process is an opportunity for us to closely examine a program, to evaluate strengths and challenges, to consider resource needs and opportunities for enhancements. We welcome the opportunity to have professionals from outside review our programs and provide formative feedback.
  •  Institutional Measures
    Students are able to learn effectively because of the strength of Ferris' academic programs. In addition to Learning Outcomes assessment, programs make use of a number of indirect measures to evaluate the health of the program. Those measures include but are not limited to the retention rate; the graduation rate; credit hour production; job placement rate; the career success of graduates; graduate performance on certification, registry, and licensure examinations; and program productivity. Most of these are available through Institutional Research and Testing, collected as part of the Ferris FACT Book, and are included as a part of Academic Program Review. When these measures indicate a possible need for change in a program, they are the basis for a recommendation for action.
  •  Faculty Evaluation
    The quality of Ferris faculty is fundamental to the quality of student learning. Faculty members are regularly evaluated to facilitate their development as needed. All faculty members collect institutionally approved student surveys concerning their teaching each semester that they teach. Every five years, all tenured faculty members go through a process of Post-Tenure review where their teaching, service, and professional activities are reviewed by the appropriate supervisor with recommendations for improvement where necessary. Tenure-track faculty undergo yearly and systematic review of their performance by the appropriate supervisor and a Faculty tenure committee; such a review includes observations of the faculty member's teaching. Adjuncts and one year appointments are carefully reviewed with the appropriate supervisor or his or her designate directly observing their teaching and making recommendations for their renewal when appropriate. A promotion process is in place in each College to review candidates for promotion and evaluate the quality of their teaching, service, and learning. Faculty Development funding, Sabbatical leave, training by the Faculty Center of Teaching and Learning, and other opportunities are provided to maintain the quality faculty that insures a quality Ferris education.

    Each semester courses and evaluations utilize a standardized instrument. Click here.

  •  The Supportive Academic Environment
    Ferris provides its students with a supportive learning environment that provides students with the opportunity to attend presentations, lectures, and a range of cultural events at the Department, College, and University Levels. The impact of these opportunities is assessed through the NSSE and periodic surveys of student satisfaction.


Ferris Assessment Activities

  • All programs, majors, minors, general education, curricular cores, non-degree program entities, and pre-programs will have public measurable learning outcomes.
  • All new programs as part of the curriculum approval process will identify the learning outcomes of the program and the means by which the student learning of those outcomes will be assessed.
  • All courses will have learning outcomes which will be included on the syllabi handed to students. While, faculty may exceed the outcomes for the course, all sections of a course must meet the assigned outcomes. 
  • All new courses as part of the curriculum approval process will identify the learning outcomes of the course and the means by which the student learning of those outcomes will be assessed. 
  • Programs, majors, minors, general education, curricular cores, non-degree program entities, and pre-programs will regularly collect evidence on how well students meet the learning outcomes, analyze the evidence, and make changes as appropriate. These activities are reported through the Advice for Assessment Directors.
  • Departments will structure and organize the assessment of student learning in courses with multiple sections. In the case of General Education, the committees for each general education are responsible for regularly assessing how well that outcome is being achieved. 
  • Faculty members are responsible for conducting assessment of student learning in their individual classes and using that data to improve the curriculum, materials, or pedagogy of the course. Colleges, Departments, and the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning will provide support for and regular training in effective learning outcomes assessment at the course level.
  • The Advice for Assessment Directors will be collected and evaluated each January. Programs not engaged in effective assessment will be notified and offered the necessary support to enhance their assessment activity.
  • There will be a yearly audit of assessment by the FSU Assessment Committee following the collection and evaluation of the YARs to determine where and how the assessment process can be improved and how greater efficiencies can be accomplished.
  • The regular collection of assessment data on student learning as well as the collection of other institutional measures of effectiveness culminates in the Academic Program Review Process following the procedures detailed on the Academic Program Review Web Page. Assessment should be ongoing and not only occur to support Academic Program Review. Rather, Academic Program Review should draw on already-gathered evidence of program effectiveness.
  • The third Friday of each February is designated specifically for Departments and Programs to engage in assessment educational activities or the review of assessment activities. The activities may be varied including an Assessment Fair, educational workshops, meetings dedicated to enhancing assessment, assessment planning sessions, and similar activities.
  • At least once a year, the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning will make available workshops on assessment, and especially course assessment. Assessment at Ferris and the role of course assessment will be an important part of the orientation of all new faculty members. 
  • A Virtual Assessment site will be established and maintained under the guidance of the Ferris State University Assessment Committee with the support of FLITE librarians. This room will provide resources on assessment, assessment data and reports, and material from HLC. This room will also serve as a resource room for site visit by HLC as part of Ferris State University's self study.
  • Assessment is essential to the educational life of Ferris State University. Participation in assessment activities will be recognized as very important service to the institution and be considered as part of Post-Tenure Review and Colleges are encouraged to consider it positively in applications for Promotion or Merit.