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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Review & Assessment

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The mission of Student Affairs Assessment at Minnesota State University, Mankato is to provide information regarding: student demographics, student expectations and experiences, student engagement, campus climate and the quality and improvement of services and programs provided by the Division.


MSU's mission statement says that we "promote learning through effective undergraduate and graduate teaching, scholarship and research in service to the state, the region, and the global community." In order to assure ourselves, our students and our public that we are effectively promoting student learning and development, it is critical that we assess the outcomes established by our various programs.


Assessment of student learning at Minnesota State University is based on the "Principles of Good Practice in Assessing Student Learning" established in 1992 by the American Association of Higher Education. These principles assume that assessment of student learning begins with identification of our educational purposes; for example, "to promote learning". Those purposes are further defined by the question, "What do we expect our students to know and be able to do when they have completed their educational programs?" The AAHE principles further suggest that, through assessment, we meet our responsibilities to students and to the public, providing evidence of our effectiveness in promoting learning.

Assessment Plan Development

Each student affairs department will design a five year assessment plan to assess the program and services offered by the department to:

  • insure high quality programs and services through continual feedback and improvement;
  • provide data illustrating the educational value the depatments programs and services add to the student learning experience at MSU; and
  • develop a base of information and data regarding the departments programs and services to be used as a component of Department Program Review and Institutional NCA Accreditation.

The department five year assessment plan will establish educational goals, measurable outcomes, the assessment instruments, methods and measures to be used, and a plan for dissemination of data gathered for program and service improvement.

Each of the goals and corresponding measureable outcomes will be assessed at least once over the course of the 5 year plan. Not every outcome has to be assessed every year, but all outcomes must be assessed at least once during the five year time period to be used for Program Review.

Develop a realistic number of goals and outcomes. The five year assessment plan should have no more than 15 outcomes.

Assessment plans are dynamic. Some goals and outcomes may be carried over from one five year plan to another, others will change over time.

The authority and responsibility for the design and operation of assessment is shared by the student affairs staff in each department with support from the assessment coordinator.

General Characteristics

The assessment plan:

  1. Is linked to the institution's mission, goals, and objectives for student learning.
  2. Has a conceptual framework.
  3. Has student affairs staff ownership/responsibility.
  4. Leads to program, departmental, and institutional improvement.
  5. Uses multiple measures.
  6. Is cost-effective.
  7. Doesn't restrict or inhibit goals of access, equity, and diversity established by the institution.
  8. Provides a timeline for development and implementation that is appropriate and realistic.
  9. Provides for appropriate administration of the assessment.


  • Each department determines the outcomes for their programs.
  • Outcomes are clearly linked to the mission and goals of the department, student affairs and the university.
  • Outcomes are written in clear, measurable terms.
  • Outcomes address student knowledge, behavior/skills, and attitudes/dispositions and services offered to students.

Assessment Instruments, Methods and Measures

Each department determines the assessment instruments and methods used in assessing the outcomes established for their programs.

Different assessment methods and instruments may be appropriate for different programs, reflecting the diversity of our programs and their outcomes. What is important is that the instruments and methods used are appropriate for the outcomes being assessed.

Outcomes are assessed by a variety of direct and indirect measures and through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. The research methods selected should be tailored to the type of data to be gathered and the degree of reliability required.

When possible the assessment should include measures of "value added", such as pre- and post-tests.

When possible assessment should occur not only at the end of the experience, but also throughout the experience. Assessment that is conducted considering several stages of the experience may yield valuable information for program improvement.

Data Collection, Analysis and Dissemination

Effective assessment planning and processes include:

  1. Clear indication of who will collect and analyze data.
  2. Regular, frequent collection and analysis of data
  3. Clarity about who will get reports on findings and how the data collected will be used for program improvement

There should be annual assessment activity and dissemination of findings. Not every outcome has to be assessed every year, but all outcomes must be assessed at least once during the program review cycle (5 years) in order to provide data for that review.

Assessment activity should be focused on the enhancement of student learning and development, service provision and the student experience at MSU through the continual improvement of programs and services.

Disseminating data collected is essential in providing staff and the campus community with information useful to the improvement of programs and learning. Assessment is not an end in itself. Feedback from analysis of assessment data leads to conclusions about current program effectiveness. This, in turn leads to recommendations and plans to improve the program.

Students should understand the purposes of assessment. Some departments at MSU provide assessment information about their programs and services in a variety of student-oriented publications. Some include students on assessment committees.

Assessment information shall be used by the unit doing the assessment to improve student learning, student development and the programs and services which structure that learning. The raw data and findings that result from implementation of an assessment plan will be treated as the sole property of the assessing unit. Electronic submission of reports will be secure, with individuals outside the reporting department having read-only access.

Assessment information may not be used for personnel decisions (except for information provided by the individual), nor for program resource allocation decisions (except for information provided by the unit). Assessment information supplied by individuals or programs may only be for self-comparative purposes and may not disclose information about other individuals or other programs. Other uses not contemplated in this statement may be proposed to the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, who will determine whether a proposed use is to be permitted or prohibited.