Assessment Resources

The Office for Institutional Effectiveness and Planning provides resources to the campus for the continued development of assessment and continuous improvement.  

Data Definitions and Flowcharts - An overview of the materials and processes that constitute a mature assessment plan. Data definitions are included to help provide a campus-wide common language for assessment activities. 

Assessment Rubric - A rubric for assessing the quality of the materials and processes that a program or unit has developed.  A detailed description of each stage of the assessment process allows users to gauge the quality of an assessment plan. 

Planning for and Reporting Assessment using Excel - These documents can be used in paper or electronic form (Excel).  They help users to see a program or unit's assessment cycle in a wholistic way and functions as a workbook.  These materials reflect the structure of Planning and Self Study (PSS) and can clarify how PSS is used for assessment. 

Nine Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning

Developed under the auspices of the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) Assessment Forum, December 1992.

  1. The assessment of student learning begins with educational values. Assessment is not an end in itself but a vehicle for educational improvement. Its effective practice, then, begins with and enacts a vision of the kinds of learning we most value for students and strive to help them achieve. Educational values should drive not only what we choose to assess but also how we do so. Where questions about educational mission and values are skipped over, assessment threatens to be an exercise in measuring what's easy, rather than a process of improving what we really care about.
  2. Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time. Learning is a complex process. It entails not only what students know but what they can do with what they know; it involves not only knowledge and abilities but values, attitudes, and habits of mind that affect both academic success and performance beyond the classroom. Assessment should reflect these understandings by employing a diverse array of methods, including those that call for actual performance, using them over time to reveal change, growth, and increasing degrees of integration. Such an approach aims for a more complete and accurate picture of learning and therefore firmer bases for improving our students' educational experience.
  3. Assessment works best when the programs it seeks to improve have clear, explicitly stated purposes. Assessment is a goal-oriented process. It entails comparing educational performance with educational purposes and expectations―those derived from the institution's mission, from faculty intentions in program and course design, and from knowledge of students' own goals. Where program purposes lack specificity or agreement, assessment as a process pushes a campus toward clarity about where to aim and what standards to apply; assessment also prompts attention to where and how program goals will be taught and learned. Clear, shared, implementable goals are the cornerstone for assessment that is focused and useful.
  4. Assessment requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to the experiences that lead to those outcomes. Information about outcomes is of high importance; where students "end up" matters greatly. But to improve outcomes, we need to know about student experience along the way―about the curricula, teaching, and kind of student effort that lead to particular outcomes. Assessment can help us understand which students learn best under what conditions; with such knowledge comes the capacity to improve the whole of their learning.
  5. Assessment works best when it is ongoing, not episodic. Assessment is a process whose power is cumulative. Though isolated, "one-shot" assessment can be better than none, improvement is best fostered when assessment entails a linked series of activities undertaken over time. This may mean tracking the process of individual students, or of cohorts of students; it may mean collecting the same examples of student performance or using the same instrument semester after semester. The point is a monitor progress toward intended goals in a spirit of continuous improvement. Along the way, the assessment process itself should be evaluated and refined in light of emerging insights.
  6. Assessment fosters wider improvement when representatives from across the educational community are involved. Student learning is a campus-wide responsibility, and assessment is a way of enacting that responsibility. Thus, while assessment efforts may start small, the aim over time is to involve people from across the educational community. Faculty plays an especially important role, but assessment's questions can't be fully addressed without participation by student-affairs educators, librarians, administrators, and students. Assessment may also involve individuals from beyond the campus (alumni/ae, trustees, employers) whose experience can enrich the sense of appropriate aims and standards for learning. Thus understood, assessment is not a task for small groups of experts, but a collaborative activity; its aim is wider, better-informed attention to student learning by all parties with a stake in its improvement.
  7. Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues of use and illuminates questions that people really care about. Assessment recognizes the value of information in the process of improvement. But to be useful, information must be connected to issues or questions that people really care about. This implies assessment approaches that produce evidence that relevant parties will find credible, suggestive, and applicable to decisions that need to be made. It means thinking in advance about how the information will be used, and by whom. The point of assessment is not to gather data and return "result"; it is a process that starts with the questions of decision-makers, that involves them in gathering and interpreting of data, and that informs and helps guide continuous improvement.
  8. Assessment is most likely to lead to improvement when it is part of a larger set of conditions that promote change. Assessment alone changes little. Its greatest contribution comes on campuses where the quality of teaching and learning is visibly valued and worked at. On such campuses, the push to improve educational performance is a visible and primary goal of leadership; improving the quality of undergraduate education is central to the institution's planning, budgeting, and personnel decisions. On such campuses, information about learning outcomes is seen as an integral part of decision making, and avidly sought.
  9. Through assessment, educators meet the responsibility to students and to the public. There is a compelling public stake in education. As educators, we have a responsibility to the publics that support or depend on us to provide information about the ways in which our students meet goals and expectations. But that responsibility goes beyond the reporting of such information; our deeper obligation -- to ourselves, our students, and society -- is to improve. Those to whom educators are accountable have a corresponding obligation to support such attempts at improvement.

At Buffalo State, the Assessment Advisory Board (AAB), chaired by the Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Planning, oversees all academic assessment activities in academic programs.  Using the instruments and structures below, the AAB conducts reviews and provides feedback to departments.  

Academic Program Data Definitions and Flowchart 

Academic Program Assessment Rubric 

Planning for and Reporting Academic Program Assessment using Excel (please email institutional effectiveness for this document)

SUNY Guide for the Evaluation of Undergraduate Programs (2012)

At Buffalo State, the Institutional Effectiveness Committee (IEC), chaired by the Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Planning, oversees all non-academic assessment activities.  Using the instruments and structures below, the IEC continuously assesses programs and provides feedback to directors.  

Functional Unit Data Definitions and Flowchart 

Functional Unit Assessment Rubric 

Planning for and Reporting Functional Unit Assessment using Excel (please email institutional effectiveness for this document)

At Buffalo State, the Institutional Effectiveness Committee (IEC), chaired by the Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Planning, oversees all non-academic assessment activities.  Using the instruments and structures below, the IEC continuously assesses programs and provides feedback to directors.  

Co-Curricular Program Data Definitions and Flowchart 

Co-Curricular Program Assessment Rubric 

Planning for and Reporting Co-Curricular Program Assessment using Excel (please email institutional effectiveness for this document)

Planning and Self-Study (PSS) is the cloud-based, assessment management system selected by Buffalo State to house assessment and reporting documents and data, and to assist in program improvement.  All academic departments, co-curricular units, and functional areas use PSS to manage assessment activities and data, and report progress on unit objectives and strategic initiatives.  

Login to Planning and Self Study (PSS ) (formerly Taskstream)

Planning and Self Study Resources Feedback Form


Individual Annual Reports for Faculty and Librarians are submitted online. Links to submit reports are emailed in April. Below is a template to assist in preparing a report.

Faculty and Librarian Annual Report Template

Individual Annual Reports for Professional Staff will be completed at the discretion of leadership in each office or department. Contact your supervisor with questions. Below is a template to assist in preparing a report.

Professional Staff Annual Report Template

Course Evaluations and Surveys (CES) by Watermark provides for the deployment, collection, and analysis of electronic course evaluations across the institution. The system is designed to streamline the entire student feedback process for our campus.