University of Wisconsin-La Crosse |

Quality Assurance

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  • Assessment

     University-Wide Assessment

    The university collects assessment information at the campus-level in order to: 

    • Understand our students' campus experience
    • Measure our students' levels of engagement in meaningful learning activities
    • Study our students' ability to demonstrate specific college-level skills  

     UW-La Crosse has made regular use of two nationally recognized tools, the  National Survey of Student Engagement  and the Collegiate Learning Assessment , in our efforts to understand and improve student learning.  The results of these measures are utilized by faculty and staff to make decisions about how we can help students learn more effectively, what programming to offer, and the best structure for the general education curriculum.

    National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)

    The  National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)  assesses college students' involvement in curricular activities that are associated with academic achievement.  The NSSE is based on extensive research that shows that "the time and energy college students devote to educationally purposeful activities is the single best predictor of their learning and personal development."  The survey includes items "that are known to be related to important college outcomes" and encompasses a broad range of activities from such things as the number of papers student write and participation in class discussions to their involvement in experiential learning and extracurricular activities.  UWL is able to compare our results with those of the combined scores of the other comprehensive schools in the UW system, schools who hold the same Carnegie classification, and overall scores of all schools completing the survey in a given year.  The university has participated in the NSSE from 1999 to 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, and 2014. Our campus will complete NSSE on a three-year cycle as part of the entire UW system participation in the Voluntary System of Accountability.

    More information about UWL's performance on the NSSE can be found by reading the following executive summaries:

    In addition to these campus level reports,  customized NSSE reports related to specific departments or units on campus or specific questions of interest can be created.  Please contact the Assessment Coordinator for more information.  

    Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE)


    The Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) assesses the high school experiences and expectations for college held by students who have been admitted to UW-La Crosse but not yet attended during the summer before entry.  This tool is designed to capture information that helps staff understand the concerns students bring to their first year of college and their evaluation of how they might address difficulties, what they expect the college experience will provide them, and how they plan to use their time related to a number of activities (i.e. studying, socializing, working, co-curricular events).  UW-La Crosse administered the BCSSE most recently in the summer of 2014 during first year registration.  Additionally, the questions are used to form advising reports that can be used by staff to identify any important concerns of new students and address them as needed. The initial standard report is shared below and a summary of highlights is being prepared.  If you have questions about this measure, please contact the Assessment Coordinator.


    Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA)

    The  Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA)  analyzes students' written responses to a set of tasks that include analyzing complex materials to produce a response to a work like issue (Performance Task) or alternatively to a set of written arguments in which the student must both produce a logical argument related to prompt and then critique an argument presented to them to indicate its flaws.  Students' abilities to think critically, reason analytically, solve problems, and communicate clearly and cogently are assessed by these tasks.   Our students entering academic ability (SAT or ACT score)  is entered into an equation so that we can determine if our student performance is below, at, or above expectations.  Representative samples of first year and senior students are used in this project.  

    More information about UWL's performance on the CLA can be found by reading the following executive summaries:

    For additional information concerning CLA or NSSE assessment at UWL, contact University Assessment Coordinator  Dr. Patrick Barlow .

     General Education ASSESSMENT

     The assessment of student learning across the general education program is conducted at the course and university level.  Several data sources are used to present the overall pattern of achievement of the program's student learning outcomes.  The General Education Assessment Committee (GEAC) reviews and manages the course level assessment process providing summary reports each year.  The General Education Committee (GEC) is responsible for the overall course structure and review of student learning within the program.  The GEC members review the GEAC reports and other assessment information on a regular basis.  

    Student Learning Outcomes

    It is the University's vision that the core curriculum encourages students to demonstrate knowledge and abilities relating to:

    • Human Cultures and the Natural World
    • Critical and Creating Thinking
    • Aesthetic Perspectives and Meaning
    • Effective Communication
    • Interaction in Intercultural Contexts
    • Individual, Social, and Environmental Responsibility


    Course Embedded Process

    Each instructor of a course in the general education program assesses students' achievement of the learning outcomes the course is designed to support.  Each department chair or program coordinator submits a plan for when each general education course offered by that department will be assessed over the next two year cycle.  During the year that assessment of a course will take place, the assessment tasks and associated rubrics that will be used are submitted by faculty in early fall to the General Education Assessment Committee (GEAC).  The GEAC then reviews the tasks and rubrics for alignment with the outcomes and usability.  If a task or rubric needs revision, it is returned to the appropriate faculty member and then resubmitted.  Once approved, the instructors then move forward with implementing the task and rubric, reviewing results, and identifying ways to incorporate the information back into the course.  A summary of the results and analysis is reported back to the GEAC at the end of that same academic year in the summer.  Then, after implementing any proposed changes,  a second report is filed with the GEAC documenting the impact of those changes a year later in the summer. The GEAC produces summaries of each of the submissions and reports them to the General Education Committee.  

    University Level Process

    Relevant items from the National Survey of Student Engagement and the results of the Collegiate Learning Assessment are organized by student learning outcome and reported to the General Education Committee.  (See the University Wide Assessment Tab for more information on these two tools).  In this manner both direct (CLA) and indirect (NSSE) results are added to the direct information from the course level process to portray the nature of student achievement of the outcomes.  The NSSE and CLA are administered on a cyclical basis approximately every three years.  Reports are prepared by the Assessment Coordinator that combine these University Level data with Course embedded data for review by the General Education Committee.

    More information about the General Education assessment process and submission of forms by faculty members is available on the Faculty Senate Website.  

     Program and Course Assessment

     Program Assessment

    All academic departments and programs conduct assessment to better understand how student learning is taking place within each program and how it might be improved or sustained.  Each college at UWL (College of Liberal Studies, College of Science and Health, College of Business Administration) as well as the School of Education and the Murphy Library have developed policies and processes regarding learning outcomes assessment including the use of college-level committees to review and support efforts in the colleges, school, and library.  Assessment of student learning is also an expectation for the Academic Program Review process and many external accreditors of our degree programs. The effort is a shared task among the faculty members in the department or program.  The collection, analysis, and use of the results by departments and programs is reported on and reviewed via three interwoven processes.

    1. The university requires a  biennial assessment report  that is coordinated by college offices ( CLSSAH , &  CBA ), the  School of Education , and  Murphy Library .
    2. Departments/programs are reviewed by an external consultant  (every seven years) or accreditation body (dependent on the organization's cycle) in conjunction with a university-level review.
    3. Assessment plans and their results are a component of academic program review in the form of  biennial and annual reports .

    Illustrated below is a general timeline of the biennial reporting process.

    Biennial Assessment Chart

    Below are the reporting forms in Word and PDF formats:

    2012-14 Biennial Assessment College/Library Reporting Form

    (Word Version)  (PDF Version)

    2012-14 Biennial Assessment Department/Program Reporting Form  

    (Word Version)  (PDF Version)

    For more clarification on how to use this  department/program form, along with some model examples, please consult this  Information Guide     

    Course Assessment

     Individual faculty members are also active in the assessment of learning outcomes specific to their individual courses. This process may or may not feed directly into the process used for the major or program as instructors may often designate learning outcomes in their courses that reside as separate from either general education or program specific outcomes. Faculty may also desire to assess newly designed courses or use of new teaching strategies thorugh this level of assessment.  Assistance for course specific assessment is available from CATL  through the Assessment Coordinator  .

    For more information concerning programmatic and course assessment, contact University Assessment Coordinator Dr. Patrick Barlow .