The term assessment in higher education encompasses both academic programs and administrative support units, as Trudy Banta and Catherine Palomba describe in their book, Assessment Essentials, 2/e:

Assessment is the process of providing credible evidence of

undertaken for the purpose of improving the effectiveness of

in higher education.


Therefore, we can categorize assessment into two broad categories: process-oriented (administrative) and results-oriented (student learning)



This type of assessment is generally used by administrative offices.

  • Measures types of services/programs students want/need
  • Who are we serving? What do they need/like? 
  • Measures who is using services, what services are being used, & when services are being used
  • Scope - what is the reach of our program or service?
  • Measures to what extent students are satisfied with programs/services
  • Do students like what we have to offer?


This type of assessment is generally used by academic programs to measure student learning. 

  • Measures to what extent stated outcomes (what students know or are able to do) are met
  • What do we want to accomplish? Did we do it? 
What standards have been set by professional associations? Do we meet them?
  • Benchmarking, Best Practices, etc.
  • Evidence that resources are well spent


 Concerning assessment, the Higher Learning Commission's Guiding Values point to a culture of continuous improvement and evidence-based institutional learning and self-presentation.

A culture of continuous improvement
A process of assessment is essential to continuous improvement, and therefore a commitment to assessment should be deeply embedded in an institution’s activities. Assessment applies not only to student learning and educational outcomes but to an institution’s approach to improvement of institutional effectiveness.

Evidence-based institutional learning and self-presentation
Assessment and the processes an institution learns from should be well grounded in evidence. Statements of belief and intention have important roles in an institution’s presentation of itself, but for the quality assurance function of accreditation, evidence is critical. Institutions should be able to select evidence based on their particular purposes and circumstances. At the same time, many of the Assumed Practices within the Criteria require certain specified evidence.




Assessment Basics

  1. What is Assessment? 
  2. The Assessment Plan
  3. Assessment Misconceptions
  4. Review and Go! 

 Assessment Academy