Assessment at UNI



(From the UNI Student Outcomes Assessment Policy, 1991 and 2007)


The process of assessing student outcomes at the University of Northern Iowa will be guided by a number of important principles.  The NASULGC [National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges] principles have been adopted by the Board of Regents and will apply to all three institutions.  Additional principles have been suggested by the Board Office in correspondence to those involved in setting institutional policy.  The remaining principles have been gathered from a variety of sources and are intended to apply to assessment at UNI.




  • 1.  Institutional, program, and student outcomes assessment should focus, primarily, on the effectiveness of academic programs and on the improvement of student learning and performance. 
  • 2.  States and institutions should rely primarily on incentives rather than regulations of penalties to affect student outcomes assessment and foster improvement.
  • 3.  Institutional programs for evaluation and assessment should be developed in collaboration with the faculty.
  • 4.  Assessment requirements should permit colleges and universities to develop institutional programs and define indicators of quality appropriate to their missions and goals and consistent with state-wide objectives and standards.
  • 5.  Colleges and universities should be encouraged to use multiple methods of assessment for improving teaching and learning and demonstrating achievement. 
  • 6.  Requirements for assessment should be fiscally conservative and avoid imposing costly evaluation programs on institutions or state agencies.
  • 7. Within an institution, assessment programs should be linked to strategic planning or program review, or some comprehensive strategy intended to encourage change and improvement.




  • *Assessment should involve both major programs and the General Education program on a regular basis.
  • *The focus for process development is on the department unit.
  • *Assessment is not necessarily student specific, although in many cases it may be.  In any case, the development of an effective outcomes assessment program depends on student involvement.




*Although teaching is a major element of assessment, student learning remains the primary responsibility of the student.


*Campus climate is critical to effective teaching and learning.


*There are two sets of skills and competencies that students must learn, a minimum set and an additional set of desired skills which enable the student to strive for excellence.  Assessment must accumulate data not only on these minimum basic outcomes, but must also measure the degree to which programs impart the skills required for excellence.


*For assessment to succeed students must:  see the value of the process, participate sincerely, and believe that the process will result in improvements.


*Data collected through assessment should be governed by recognized codes of ethics relating to human subjects research.


*Outcomes assessment requires resources, especially when faculty time and effort are required.

*Faculty will not participate effectively and outcomes assessment is unlikely to be successful if faculty suspect that assessment results will be incorporated in the faculty reward structure.  However, faculty must be rewarded for their [service] work on the assessment process.


*A major purpose of outcomes assessment is to build habits of inquiry and a culture of evidence about student learning.


*Successful assessment requires leadership and support throughout the university, as well as integrity and accountability from those administering the program.


*The assessment program itself must be evaluated periodically.


*Outcomes assessment may be based on either a census or a sample of students.

Interdisciplinary programs such as general education, the business core, and the professional sequence in education will be assessed by committees involving faculty from the affected departments.


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