Assessment at the University of Nevada, Reno
As an institution, the University of Nevada, Reno articulates as the cornerstone of its Mission Statement that well-educated and well-trained graduates "in the liberal arts, sciences, and selected professions in agriculture, medicine, engineering, health care, education, journalism, and business" will be prepared for meaningful lives and careers beyond campus.
To gauge the attainment of this campus-wide goal, which impacts faculty, staff, and students past and present in each college and division, and to measure the efficacy of such education and training across these disciplines on our campus, we rely on assessment. Assessment allows us to investigate how well we are fulfilling our educational mission and to make data-driven decisions in both identifying effective curricula and considering whether or not curricula should be revised. In its ideal practice, assessment is not a passing trend but an honest and reflective evaluation of the goals and objectives of our degree programs and of our students' success in learning, retaining, and integrating bodies of knowledge and skills encountered in the Core Curriculum, majors, and minors.
Assessment on campus involves three levels of review and analysis: institutional, program, and course. In outcomes-based assessment at UNR, we thus seek to document student learning in relation to the goals and expectations of degree programs, colleges and divisions, and the university, including the Core Curriculum, and to collect evidence at specific points in the curriculum for measuring student learning.
While the university expects degree-granting programs to measure student performance and seek improvement in curricular and pedagogical matters, departments have full autonomy in the design, development, and implementation of their assessment plans. All programs are expected to develop a plan to assess their learning outcomes and determine the current effectiveness of their curriculum or identify areas for modification. In addition, program assessment plans and reports are required annually. Programs should collect data to inform these reports and use all available information (i.e., from all three levels of assessment) in considering changes to their curricula. The role of the Provost's Office and the Assistant Vice Provost, Assessment & Accreditation is to ensure that programs and faculty members receive the necessary guidance and information to conduct this process, and to ensure as well that institution-, program-, and course-level assessment is completed in a symbiotic and holistic fashion.
The responsibility of assessment at the college level falls to the Associate Dean, who oversees in turn faculty Assessment Coordinators for every program within the college. Questions regarding the planning and reporting of program assessment may be directed to the Assistant Vice Provost, Assessment & Accreditation (firstname.lastname@example.org), who is also responsible for gathering and disseminating data relevant to the Mission Statement, Core Themes, and other educational objectives of the institution.