This section provides a detailed look at how Ashford University utilizes an array of indirect and direct measures to analyze course and program effectiveness as it relates to student success. Assessment results are used to support curricular, programmatic, and institutional improvements with the purpose of enhancing students’ learning experience.
Assessing Student Success
Michael Reilly, Ph.D.
Learning assessment drives the continuous improvement plan of the College of Business and Professional Studies. Through regular assessment reporting and program review, our faculty develop methods and curriculums to advance student learning. Assessment also provides the valid and reliable measures of student critical thinking abilities. Assessment of this last factor assures us our students can solve complex problems and self learning for life.
Andrew Shean, Ed.D.
The analysis of assessment results is perhaps the most influential factor in the College of Education course development process and in refinement of instructional best practices. To be able to provide meaningful feedback, assessment methods must be varied and must align with the desired learning outcomes. The question is "Feedback for whom, and for what purpose?" "For whom," of course, is for our students. "For what purpose" is for the purposes of continual improvement—improvement achieved through better instruction and evolving curriculum that remains deep, relevant, and rigorous.
Throughout our courses, almost every assignment, every question, every action, has some form of assessment tied to it (Wiggins, 2004). These are meaningful assessments that have been crafted by dedicated faculty, instructional designers, and an assessment team committed to using the resultant feedback to rethink curriculum and to drive instruction.
All programs and courses in the College of Education at Ashford University have clear learning objectives that drive new learning and align to University outcomes. Additionally, all activities and assessment are aligned to the learning objectives of the course, which are in turn aligned with learning objectives of the program. This careful alignment ensures that, upon graduation, students have mastered the skills and acquired the knowledge necessary to be successful in their chosen profession.
Source: Wiggins, Richard J, (1994). Student-centered classroom assessment. New York: Macmillan College Publishing
Mihaela Tanasescu, M.D., Sc.D.
The strong assessment culture of the College of Health, Human Services, and Science, including advanced assessment technology, institutional commitment, and faculty-driven processes, contributes in an essential manner to providing high-quality learning opportunities to our students. We continue to assess the breadth and depth of our curriculum, its currency, and its alignment with program and institutional outcomes. We have also begun to systematically evaluate student learning using direct and indirect methods. Teaching practices are informed and aided by assessment tools and techniques, further contributing to the quality and the improvement of our programs. The College of Health, Human Services, and Science is committed to using continuous assessment and evidence-based approaches to ensure the achievement of learning outcomes and educational goals for students, during their studies and upon graduation.
Suzanne Power, Ed.D.
The College of Liberal Arts at Ashford University is committed to providing a rich education that develops each student's ability to think critically as well as master subject matter knowledge. Every reading, assignment, or activity for every course and program are carefully aligned to ensure that students meet those expectations.
In order to ensure that our programs, courses, and assignments meet their respective goals and maintain the highest quality, the academic team at the College of Liberal Arts engages in ongoing, systematic assessment of its curriculum, instruction, and student learning. These three components have specifically designed goals (outcomes) that exemplify best practices in the field for every learning experience.
Appropriate (and often multiple) assessments are conducted to inform us of progress toward our goals. However, the assessment results do more than just inform us of our progress, they drive our next steps. When we fail to achieve the goals we set, a thorough examination of data occurs among our academic team. Root causes are analyzed. Curriculum and assignments are examined for alignment by subject matter experts. Instructional practice is reviewed by faculty chairs. Through thoughtful conversations, revisions, and professional development, our curriculum and instructional practice are revised to enhance student learning. Through this continuous cycle of goal-setting, instruction, assessment, and evaluation, the College of Liberal Arts maintains a culture committed to the success of its students.