Kathleen A. Martin, DPE
Historical Perspective on Student Learning Outcomes Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness at Bay Path University: 1995-Present
Since 1995, Bay Path University has been concerned about assessment practices for a variety of reasons: regional and professional accreditation and licensing bodies, accountability to parents, students, donors, and other stakeholders such as granting agencies, as well as national emphasis on the higher education environment and its accountability practices. Specifically in 2000, the president’s office commissioned a consultant to investigate the status of assessment at the University and work with the faculty to develop learning outcomes assessment plans for all academic departments. Just before the completion of the University's Vision 2001 (with an emphasis on communications, technology, and leadership) for the undergraduate women’s college and the advent of the Bay Path Graduate School for men and women, the president and the executive staff ensured that all systematic planning was in place and begun with regard to learning outcomes assessment as it was finding its way into NEASC standards of excellence.
In summer of 2003 the University purchased a software tool (TracDat) for electronically keeping records of observations of not only learning outcomes assessments but also of administrative and functional assessments to calculate institutional effectiveness. In both academic and administrative assessment practices, the electronic tool enables the University to record its assessment plans, objective by objective; provide remedies if the objectives fail to meet minimal performance criteria; and make dated observations about the assessment processes and results. Most departments have recorded these observations dating back to fall 2002. Thus the University began its electronic recording of evidence with the purchase of the TracDat system in summer 2003 and has ascended the learning curve to use the system more effectively with each new data entry hence forward. For example, the records hold planning and evaluation activities, specified assessment measures, and lists of observations with remedies and follow-up that are electronically accessed by department, division, and linked to internal and external standards. The whole system thus provides evidence of ongoing assessment and planning activities.
The Assessment Office has been functioning since June 2004 and working with individual academic department heads, directors, deans, vice presidents, and the president herself to administer and monitor the assessment activities including both academic learning outcomes of students and administrative functions of non-academic staff and officers of the University. These reports from 2002 to the present are available through the University's TracDat software.
In January 2011, Bay Path University submitted its 5th Year Interim Self-Assessment report to NEASC. In April 2011, Bay Path University received a letter from NEASC confirming acceptance of the self-assessment report and confirming the next on-site visit will be scheduled for the spring of 2016.