Office of Academic Assessment
Assessment at UNI:
Some Information for Students
At UNI, students are frequently asked to participate in assessment-related activities. The purpose of this web page is to provide some information about what assessment involves and how it benefits students.
The term assessment includes a range of activities and processes used to help the university gather information about student experiences and their learning outcomes. Those activities may take the form of surveys, standardized tests, program evaluation forms, focus groups, or any of a variety of other shapes. But whatever the shape they take, their purpose is the same—to gather information to help UNI continue to put Students First and to provide them with the best possible experience and education while they are at UNI. [Return to the top of the page]
Faculty, staff, and administrators at UNI want to know what students are learning, how well they are learning it, and what kinds of experiences—both inside and outside of the classroom—add to student learning.
For example, studies have shown that employers look for strong oral and written communication skills, ability to think critically and to work as part of a team, experience with diversity, as well as initiative, flexibility, and a well-developed work ethic, to name a few qualities they seek. UNI wants to make sure that graduates not only know the content in their academic field, but have the qualities required for success in their work, their communities, and their personal lives.
Some specific questions about students that assessment processes can answer include ones like these: How well can students write, speak, solve problems and use information sources, and what are the best ways to teach these skills? What kinds of internships and other hands-on experiences do students get and how satisfied are employers with their work? What kinds of international experiences are available and how do students benefit from them? What other services and programs are being offered and how satisfied are students with what they gain from them? What kinds of relationships do students have with faculty and staff? The lists could go on and on! [Return to the top of the page]
The list below indicates some of the strategies for gathering information about student learning and experiences at UNI.
•MAP-Works is a survey offered to first-year students during the early fall semester and early part of the spring semester. MAP-Works provides students with an individualized report related to factors affecting student success in college. Faculty and staff use MAP-Works results to help students connect with campus resources to help them make the most of their experiences on campus.
•Proficiency Profile, a standardized test from ETS, is administered to selected freshmen and seniors to measure growth in skills in reading, mathematics, writing, and critical thinking over the course of study at UNI.
•NSSE, National Survey of Student Engagement, is also administered to selected freshmen and seniors. This instrument gathers information on student experiences in and out of the classroom. For links to more information on NSSE, go to https://www.uni.edu/assessment/nsse.shtml. Students who are selected to participate in NSSE and complete the survey will be entered into a drawing for prizes. For a list of prizes available in drawing of NSSE participants, click here.
•The Student Satisfaction Survey and the Graduating Senior Survey, administered by the UNI Office of Institutional Research, provide information on student perspectives and preferences related to their experiences at UNI.
•Event evaluations (for example, after the Career Fair or after residence hall or Maucker Union programs), and surveys on usage and satisfaction with services provided by offices or departments—for example, Rod Library and other offices and departments also conduct satisfaction surveys, for example, Rod Library and Department of Residence dining operations—also provide insights into student experience at UNI. See the Assessment Calendar for information on some other surveys that help provide insight into UNI student experiences and perceptions.
•Assessment may also include collection and analysis of various kinds of data—for example, profiles of admitted student ACT scores, state of residence, gender, age, ethnicity; numbers of students living in residence halls or registering for CareerLink or pursuing specific majors or minors, and so forth. [Return to the top of the page]
Students, parents, employers, taxpayers, legislators, and many others have a vested interest in knowing how well UNI is doing its job in providing students with a strong education and learning what will serve its graduates and the state as a whole. Information from assessment activities can become part of reports to various constituencies; it can be used by faculty or staff committees to make plans for future programs or services or to develop new approaches to learning in the classroom; it can be used at department, college, university and state levels to determine budget allocations for educational programs and activities.
One thing that is important to know is that assessment-related data is released only in aggregate form—e.g., as averages or on graphs or tables for entire groups. Individual student information is kept confidential and does not affect students’ course grades or progress toward graduation. [Return to the top of the page]
•Take advantage of the opportunity to complete surveys and evaluations. The more students that respond to assessment activities, the more accurate a picture of student perceptions and experiences will emerge from these assessment tools.
•Whether you are taking a standardized test or filling out a survey, take time to do a thorough and thoughtful job. The information that is collected will only be useful and representative of UNI students if it is honestly done.
For additional information on assessment policies and procedures at UNI, feel free to browse the links on this web site or to contact the Office of Academic Assessment.