The Institute schedule reflects a curriculum-based philosophy on assessment education: sessions build off one another and attendees learn assessment techniques within the context of pragmatic assessment questions and issues that are applicable on any campus.  All three tracks are facilitated by Assessment Institute faculty members and incorporate both instruction and hands-on experience.  


Pre-Institute Sessions

Assessment 101

This preconference will provide an introduction to assessment in student affairs and prepare you to actively engage in the institute. The purpose is to provide an introduction to those new to assessment, as well as a review for those of you who may are more experienced in assessment.  The faculty leader will provide a basic introduction to outcomes based assessment, why it is important, the common terms, benefits/challenges of conducting assessment, and an introduction to the topics that will covered in subsequent institute sessions, including planning, writing criteria, and methodology. Presenter will include both department and division level examples.   As a result of engaging in this session, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the importance of outcomes-based assessment in student affairs.

  • Define important assessment terms.

  • Articulate the difference between assessment and research.

  • Explain the basic steps of the assessment cycle.

  • Understand different types of assessment including; needs, tracking, usage, student learning.

  • Identify potential challenges and barriers to assessment.

  • Create an awareness of how your cultural assumptions and your worldview influence how you approach assessment work.

  • Outline the basic parts of an assessment plan and how they align.

  • Introduction to developing goals and outcomes.

  • Understand different types of assessment methodologies.  

Program Review  

Program review is an important holistic assessment tool for any student affairs professional and provides a big-picture evaluation of the health of a department. It is a process characterized by self-reflection and evaluation whereby one can critically assess all aspects of a department or functional unit. This process is designed to help departments identify areas of strength and opportunities for growth in order to make strategic and intentional plans for the future.  

During this Pre-Institute session, participants will receive an introduction to program review and the stages of a typical program review cycle. The session will also provide a more detailed introduction to using the CAS Standards as the basis for program review. 

As a result of engaging in this session, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the purpose of conducting a program review

  • Describe the role of standards, including the CAS Standards, in program review

  • Recall practical tips for organizing and completing a program review

  • Describe strategies for sharing and using review results 


Plenary Sessions

Ethics in Assessment

As we design assessments for our programs and services, it is critical that we consider the potential impact that assessment will have on the participants and how existing relationships with participants may influence the assessment results.  This session will guide participants to think about the potential ethical considerations in their assessments and how to minimize the potential for harmful outcomes.  

As a result of engaging in this session, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the basic principles of beneficence, respect for persons, and justice that undergird policies to protect participants in research

  • Apply ethical principles to the planning of assessment projects

  • Ensure that appropriate informed consent and participant protections are included in own assessment plans

  • Identify potentially vulnerable populations to be included in assessment and design plans to appropriately protect them 

Choosing the Best Method

This interactive session will engage participants through case studies on how to choose the best method for data collection.  Participants will learn the importance of choosing a method that answers that question – what do you want or need to know? Making the best match possible between your assessment question and methodology will ensure that you collect meaningful data.  This presentation will also introduce the various choose your own adventure sessions related to data collection and analysis and help you determine what to attend.    As a result of engaging in this session, participants will be able to:

  • ​Articulate the legitimacy, trustworthiness, and/or validity of various methods

  • Differentiate between various methodologies

  • Identify strengths for various data collection methodologies

  • Associate the assessment question with the methodology

  • Create an awareness of cultural variables that influence data collection procedures.  


Department/Program Track Sessions

Writing Success

Criteria Often defining success criteria is one of the hardest and most important parts of our jobs. It can be easy to articulate why we do what we do, but without distinct outcomes it can be hard to know whether or not these goals have actually been achieved.  Defining success criteria means starting with the end in mind. What do we want a program or service to achieve?  What do we want students or other participants to learn?  How will we know we have achieved our goals? This session will equip you with the tools to create purposeful assessment goals and a chance to practice writing outcomes that are in alignment with the mission, goals, and objectives of a functional area or department. 

As a result of engaging in this session, participants will be able to:

  • Explain the importance of goals, objectives, and outcomes in good assessment practice.

  • Identify the characteristics of SMART outcomes.

  • Differentiate between program and learning outcomes.

  • Construct program and learning outcomes that align with foundational elements of a program or department.

  • Recognize how taking an asset-based and student-focused approach to in writing success criteria supports culturally responsive assessment  

Sharing and Using Results of Assessment 

Communicating and reporting results and findings is one of the most critical aspects of the assessment cycle. However, it often gets short shrift as assessors are pressed for time or uncertain about the most valuable way to share results. This session will use concrete examples of effective assessment reporting and sharing strategies that target a variety of audiences. Participants will gain a better understanding of successful reporting and sharing methods to help ensure that assessment results are used to improve practice and inform decision-making. 

As a result of engaging in this session, participants will be able to:

  • Identify specific audiences and key stakeholders for sharing results

  • Articulate different options for result formats/delivery methods for both qualitative and quantitative data

  • Determine the appropriate format for conveying results to various audiences

  • Evaluate assessment reporting structure, format, delivery and language for bias, inclusion, and applicability for a diverse audience

  • Take a current assessment project at their institution and develop effective strategies to share or otherwise use the data to directly improve practice and/or decision-making 

Designing an Assessment Plan

It is important to have a holistic, annual assessment plan to drive programmatic improvement. In this session, participants will discuss the important elements of an assessment plan​ ​and strategies for implementing an effective plan for programmatic improvement. Participants will leave this session with an initial outline of an implementable assessment plan for their program(s).  

As a result of engaging in this session, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the steps of the assessment process/cycle

  • Articulate key elements necessary for successful implementation of each step in the assessment cycle

  • Identify stakeholders and integrate their needs into design and analysis

  • Incorporate culturally responsive assessment practices within department/program planning

  • Plan your department/program assessment cycle  


Division Track Sessions

Aligning Goals and Outcomes

Across the Division Assessment is most impactful when it is done strategically with a focus on how we can use it to both demonstrate the scope and impact of our work as well as improve our practice. This session will discuss strategies for strategically aligning our goals and outcomes in order to better guide our assessment efforts. Participants will be asked to apply the knowledge they gain to real world examples that look at how we align department/program level goals and outcomes within the division and how we align division goals and outcomes within the institution.  

As a result of engaging in this session, participants will be able to:

  • Identify how aligning goals/outcomes across the division is integral to assessment

  • List sources of accountability which could inform a division’s goals/outcomes and how they align

  • Explain 1-2 strategies for beginning this process in their division/work units

  • Explore potential obstacles and solutions 

Synthesizing and Using Results across the Division

An essential aspect of conducting assessment is synthesizing the data and developing reporting mechanisms that will be read and acted upon. This presentation will discuss why knowing your key target audience is so critical to know your key audience and best practices in relating information to key constituents. Additionally, a wide variety of reporting formats, tools, products, and techniques will be reviewed to ensure you are presenting your data in clear and compelling ways that will help translate your data into meaningful and actionable insights.  

As a result of engaging in this session, participants will be able to:

  • Learn key questions to determine the best reporting products for the assessment's purpose and primary audience  

  • Identify a series of appropriate reporting formats, tools, and products that are best for organizing and presenting results to persuade and connect with primary audience

  • Present data in clear, concise, and compelling ways that help translate data into actionable insights

  • Recognize strategies to utilize data strategically that advances the needs of all groups and advance inclusion 

Division Assessment Plans

Building a culture of assessment is a critical component to empowering your division to actively engage in good assessment practice. Whether you’re at a small or large institution, an assessment team helps build knowledge and promote a culture of shared ownership over how data are collected, shared and utilized in your division. This session will discuss strategies for and challenges to developing efficient division-wide assessment plans.  

As a result of engaging in this session, participants will be able to:

  • Identify common elements and barriers to division-wide assessment plans

  • Explain how to use different models of assessment teams to build assessment capacity throughout a division

  • Describe at least two strategies for implementing/improving division-wide assessment plans at their institution

  • Explain approaches for making assessment accessible and inclusive at your institution