Student Affairs Assessment Plan

Schuh and Upcraft (1996) identified several types of assessment in their book, Student Affairs Assessment: A guide for practitioners, which are are listed below in order from basic assessment practices to more complex assessment practices. The last section discusses the foundation for supporting assessment activities. Under each section, we discuss the progress we have made since 2014 and our goals for the future.

Utilization of Events, Programs, and Services

Utilization assessment tracks program, service, and event attendance as well as facility usage. This information is useful for decision-making, requesting internal and external funding, and responding to university data requests (e.g., organizations which rank colleges and universities, accreditors, external reviewers, etc.). In order to support the tracking of attendance data, we have:

  • Asked staff to track all program attendance
  • Built more than 40 card readers for tracking attendance and offered individualized training
  • Developed automated attendance reports for staff who coordinate events
  • Replaced the equipment for tracking office visitors
  • Offered equipment for tracking office visitors to other student service offices
  • Created automated reports for office visits
  • Generated divisional reports on student involvement in programs and services
  • Categorized our programs, events and services into eight overarching themes

The next step involves creating a student engagement report that describes student participation in programs and services based on our eight themes.

Student Needs

These types of assessments measure students' needs at a specific point in time. The information can be used by staff to reach out to students who are interested in and in need of services and programs related to their department.

To date, we have identified a division-wide assessment that is used at another university and have started drafting needs assessments around each of our eight themes. Our next step is to continue working on the needs assessments, conduct pilots, finalize the instruments, administer the assessment and establish baseline results.

Student Satisfaction

The Office of Institutional Research conducts several surveys which measure satisfaction. The CWRU Student Experience Survey (CWRUSES) asks students how satisfied they are with several offices within Student Affairs. We strive for a satisfaction rate of 75% or higher.

Originally a senior survey, CWRUSES was expanded in 2016 to incorporate students from all class levels, including graduate and professional students. Although several Student Affairs offices have consistently received a satisfaction rate of more than 75% over the years, 2016 was the first year that all of the Student Affairs offices (that were rated on satisfaction) met this goal.

Campus Environments and Student Cultures

These types of assessments provide insight on the extent to which the campus environment and culture is welcoming, supportive, safe, and inclusive. Some of the climate surveys at CWRU are conducted on a cycle while others are administered on an ad hoc basis.

Surveys regarding the overall college experience are administered annually. In the past, CWRU has participated in the AAU survey on sexual misconduct and the Ohio Department of Higher Education Changing Campus Climate Benchmarking Survey. Programs related to the campus environment and student cultures are evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Outcomes Assessment

Outcomes assessment refers to measuring student learning. Although learning has been assessed in higher education for many years, it hasn't been until more recently that national and international associations have worked together to develop overarching outcomes related to the college experience.

  • In 2004, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and American College Personnel Association published Learning Reconsidered: A Campus-Wide Focus on the Student Experience, which emphasized the importance of faculty and Student Affairs staff working together to provide a holistic learning experience for students. This document outlined overarching learning outcomes, dimensions, examples of experiences, and related theories.
  • In 2006, Learning Reconsidered 2: A Practical Guide to Implementing a Campus-Wide Focus on the Student Experience was published with the support of seven national higher education associations.
  • In 2008, the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) adopted Learning Reconsidered 2 with a few changes (see Learning and Development Outcomes).
  • In 2012, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) published Essential Learning Outcomes for liberal education.

We have developed our own learning outcomes for the Division of Student Affairs and aligned them with the AAC&U and CAS learning domains/dimensions. Our initial assessment plan is based on existing and regularly collected institutional data.

Next steps include discussions with the Provost's Commission on the Undergraduate Experience regarding their new learning goals. Thereafter, we will review the list of programs and services under each theme, create a student engagement report, tie student engagement data to data collection efforts, and determine whether or not there is a significant difference in the learning, attitudes, and behaviors of participants versus non-participants.

Thereafter, we will begin exploring alternative assessment methods, benchmark co-curricular paths and best practices, and develop a program map based on our eight program and service themes. Throughout this process, we will continue to collaborate with the Office of Outcome Assessment and the Office of Institutional Research.


Benchmarking can be used as a starting point for determining whether or not to pursue an idea or how to solve a problem/issue. It involves a review of the activities and support provided for specific groups at peer institutions. The first level of benchmarking may begin with a review of websites followed by directors or staff contacting their counterparts at peer institutions for additional information.

To date, we have assisted with benchmarking gender-inclusive housing policies and procedures (spring 2015), women's centers (fall 2016), and LGBT centers (summer/fall 2017).

Over the next three years, we will benchmark Student Affairs departments in terms of programs, services, spaces, staffing, reporting lines, scholarships, and awards,.

Comparing Effectiveness to Professional Standards

Sources of professional standards include the following:

  • Accreditation
  • CAS standards and guidelines
  • Certificates and licensures
  • Peer reviews
  • Professional organizations
  • Reputational rankings and ratings

The Division of Student Affairs participated in an external review shortly after the Vice President, Lou Stark, arrived in 2013. The external reviewers consisted of three Student Affairs vice presidents from peer institutions. The division has implemented many of their recommendations. We also participated in the university's re-accreditation process with the Higher Learning Commission in spring 2015 and will contribute to the follow up accreditation document that is due in 2019.

Developing a Foundation for Assessment

As we are implementing the assessment initiatives above, we are also working diligently to build and maintain a solid assessment foundation. To date, we have done the following:

  • Established department assessment liaisons
  • Provided staff training/consultation based on individual needs and interests
  • Started an assessment handbook
  • Benchmarked assessment instruments
  • Implemented an assessment plan protocol
  • Reviewed and acquired new assessment programs/software
  • Increased the availability and use of assessment equipment
  • Explored data security practices
  • Developed a division-wide assessment schedule
  • Improved the number of staff with continuing research education certifications
  • Engaged in external professional development activities related to assessment
  • Created templates for assessment planning, benchmarking, and reporting
  • Increased staff knowledge of assessment activities within and outside the division
  • Encouraged the sharing of assessment results

Next steps include adopting a new student engagement platform, providing assessment training for staff and students, encouraging further collaboration on assessment activities across campus, and continuing to explore and adopt best practices in assessment.