Major Assessments

Sewanee assesses student learning outcomes in its major fields of study in order to identify expected student learning goals that academic majors struggle to master so that thought and resources can be focused to help improve student achievement of these goals. Departments are required to submit annual reports of their assessment activities.

This assessment program is designed solely for use by the faculty, departments, and programs that contribute to an academic major program and is neither intended, nor would it be appropriate, for groups or individuals other than the faculty and departments that generated this data to use this information for any purpose other than to assist faculty or departments in improving student learning when they request such assistance.

There are four parts to the assessment procedure (and report):

  1. Learning Objectives for the Major: State (list) the learning objectives for the program of study. These should also appear in the public information generated by the department (e.g., the official web page and on-line Catalog text).
  2. Assessment Tools: Determine (and describe in the report) the exercise(s) that you use to measure student achievement with respect to each objective. These tools may include the comprehensive exam but are not necessarily limited to the comprehensive.
  3. Assessment Results: Collect data on each of your assessment tools. In some cases, a five-point scale (essentially A-F or 1-5) will assist in clarifying the degree of student achievement, though a more detailed scale may be useful. A simple binary scale (e.g., "achieved/did not achieve") may at times be appropriate, but please do not overuse such binary scales. Data can also include anecdotal, interview, or survey responses.
  4. Use of Data: As a department, review the data and outline how your department will use the data to improve the educational experience for your majors. The report should describe what was done or is being done, whether at the course or curricular level, to address student learning difficulties and to respond to a dynamic educational environment. (For example, should new courses be offered? Others deleted? Concentrations re-structured?) This section is the most important part of the report, and not just from the point-of-view of SACS; this section should reflect the department's commitment to ongoing and honest self-review.

Assessment data must be used as the basis for some change no less frequently than once every three years. If you have not included a Use of Data section in any of your recent assessment reports, please be sure to review your past data, consider modifications for future courses, and detail what changes you intend to make and why.

Assessment reports for each major are due once a year, on or about September 30, (to allow for departmental conversations at the start of the academic year). Specific deadlines will be announced each year.