Writing Proposals - the Assessment Pieces

Assessment Related Policy and Procedures   

Effective Fall 2018, Revised Fall 2020

All new and revised courses, and all new and revised programs, that come to UCC are expected to include a short memo attached to each curricular proposal that addresses the following:   

  1. What data informed the decision-making to propose this new course or course revision?
  2.  A copy of the program-level curriculum map highlighting where this new course or revision fits into the map.
  3.  How does the new course or course revision fit into the program's assessment plan?  

More specifically for: 

    1. New programs, in addition to the required full descriptive rationale and check sheet, the program will be required to submit a curriculum map and an assessment grid (template) as prescribed by the Academic Assessment Council.  (See Documents in Table 3 of the UCC coversheet).   The college curriculum committee will be responsible for vetting this requirement before forwarding proposals to the UCC.
    2. Program revisions, only where the existing assessment plan is altered, have the same requirements apply as # 1 above.  Where changes to existing programs do not alter existing assessment plans, the above-listed items A, B, and C do not apply.
    3. New course proposals, the program will include a forwarding memo that must include the above-listed items A, B, and C to the college curriculum committees who will vet this requirement.
    4. Revision of existing courses, changes in any or all of the UCC course proposal items, the requirements remain the same as #3 above.
    5. Courses designed for the General Education program, the above-listed items A, B, and C do not apply.  

  UCC Cover Sheet Fall 2023 Revision

Guidance for Writing Assessment Memos -

Why does UCC require an Assessment Memo for some proposals?  And how can we write an effective one?  by Karen L. Rauch, Ph.D. , Kutztown University's associate vice president for accreditation, assessment and curriculum. 

Dunkin’ ™ may power our mornings, but assessment data should power our curricular changes. Those data, however, can take on many different forms. What are the types of evidence that lead faculty to revise a program’s curriculum? How can we make a strong case in an Assessment Memo in support of a UCC proposal? 

The UCC Assessment Memo contains three inter-related sections: 

1. Evidence of data-informed decision making

Direct assessment of Student Learning Outcomes can lead a program’s faculty to request curricular changes to ensure student achievement. If students don’t meet a benchmark, programs could begin the process by examining the current curriculum map. Does it scaffold student learning? Are all aspects of expectations for students covered in the curriculum? The answers to these questions may lead to a new course proposal. Or a renumbering/resequencing of a required core. All excellent ways to move the needle for our students.
Perhaps evidence stems from external sources, for instance, specialized accreditors or universities that are our competitors. Five-year reviews can give us valuable insights into our program when we carefully reflect on our curriculum and then receive feedback via the report of the external evaluators, recognized experts in the discipline. Additionally, marketing research can provide evidence as to how we might need to restructure our courses or sequencing. 
Finally, indirect measures, such as DFWI rates, results of student or alumni surveys, or student focus groups may help us determine that we need to update or revise a program’s curriculum.

2. Inclusion of a curriculum map with the new course or sequencing highlighted

If a new course, for instance, doesn’t make an appearance on your curriculum map, then how does it contribute to the program’s SLOs?   

3. How does the new proposal change your assessment plan?

For this section, many programs indicate that there is no change to their plan. Maybe a better way to ask this question is: how are you going to know if the change has the desired outcome?

In a well-known article in assessment circles, titled “A Simple Model for Learning Improvement: Weigh Pig, Feed Pig, Weigh Pig,” the authors discuss this very phenomenon: many institutions assess (=weigh the pig), create interventions (=feed the pig), but don’t ever know whether the intervention had the desired effect (=neglect to weigh the pig again). In short, we need to reassess to actually impact student learning. 

Bottom line for this section of the Assessment Memo: we need to explain how the program plans to evaluate the outcome of the change indicated in the proposal 

Work Cited

Fulcher, K. H., Good, M. R., Coleman, C. M., & Smith, K. L. (2014, December). A simple model for learning improvement: Weigh pig, feed pig, weigh pig. (Occasional Paper No. 23). Urbana, Il: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.